The El Rancho Hotel in Gallup has probably seen more movie stars over the years than any other hotel I can think of outside Hollywood. It is one of the classic old hotels in the southwest...

"The El Rancho Hotel here in Gallup, New Mexico," says Armand Ortega, "was built in 1936 and it opened December of 1937."

Armand Ortega is best known for his fine Indian Jewelry stores across the west...but when he was about 13 years old he used to wander into the El Rancho and think, someday he'd like to have a place like this. Well, now he owns the place, he still likes it and so do a lot of the traveling public...

"When they come in the door they look and they really like it. It's something different, you know. If you're traveling through, it's just like you're seeing something different."

John Wayne walked these stairs and so did Lucille Ball and Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster...over the years more than 300 of some of Hollywood's most famous stayed here while they were making movies nearby. The lobby, with it's dark, heavy wood and quiet ambience is the centerpiece of this fine old hotel, but spend the night, too. We stayed in the Presidential Suite, pretty nice digs for about 85 dollars, and bragging rights for a whole list of people who might have slept in this room before us.

"It's different. It's not a Holiday Inn or a Marriot made out of steel. It's something that's still a part of history and people can see that when they come in and enjoy that."

The hotel also has one of Ortega's Indian Jewelry shops, and Armand sits in the restaurant every afternoon buying crafts from local Indians.


Gallup is in west central New Mexico on Interstate 40. It is located at 1000 E Highway 66. That's on the main drag through town and just east of downtown. Walk in and take a look around. Take a suite for the night, otherwise their rooms are pretty much just...rooms. The suites are big and rambling and fun to stay in.

The bar is dark and friendly.

The food in the restaurant is not anything you're going to rave about and the service can be a little spotty. Come in after 5 PM and maybe chat with Armand about the Indian jewelry market. He usually sits at a table just to the side of the cash register counter.

Room rates are from about $43.00 to $76.00.

They have a website at www.elranchohotel.com. They have never responded to an e-mail I sent them. Their Phone is: 1-800-543-6351 in the U.S. and 1-505-863-9311 outside the U.S.A

Gallup is centrally located to a number if interesting places in thios part of the Southwest: Acoma Pueblo; Zuni Pueblo; El Morro National Monument; and the Navajo Reservation, to name a few.