Guests Are Charmed with Artesian Homes Away From Home at the Casa Gallina in Taos
by Heather Cassell
It was dark and late when Super G and I drove into Casa Gallina (613 Callejon Road; 575-758-2306; CasaGallina.net) in Taos, New Mexico. It was so late that the Casa’s front desk was closed and we didn’t quite understand the message that was sent to us about a note at the front gate of the casa we were staying in and the door being unlocked.
The note must have become a part of the tumble weed that rolled away with the night wind as it was nowhere to be found. We weren’t sure if we were supposed to simply walk into the casita that was unlocked or if we weren’t the only guests arriving late after a long journey. After an attempt to get in touch with the owner, thanks to a kind guest whom we disturbed, with no other option we simply prayed that we weren’t taking someone else’s casita and made ourselves at home.
“Welcome to the country. You’ve officially left the city,” we say to each other as we quickly prepared for bed and instantly fell into a deep slumber beneath the New Mexico patchwork quilt.
Fortunately, the cute two story casita, the Bantam Roost, was our abode as guests of owner, Richard Spera, for the next two days. The casita was decked out with local artists’ works displaying old and new Mexican and New Mexico artwork and crafts to touches of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo with her cameo on the shower curtain. It was nuevo Southwestern style that made country life look chic in a New Mexico way. We loved it!
In the morning, Richard greeted us with homemade gluten-free muffins made by Quinoa Qookie, his partner artist and baker James Matthew “Matt” Thomas’ new company.
Casa Gallina started out as a humble guesthouse a little more than a decade ago with the casita next door, which was once Richard’s home, to the one we were staying in. A hospitality professional, Richard opened his home to guests for extra income alongside his massage therapy business, in 2003. It organically grew quickly as he acquired neighbor’s homes around the on the former farmland and transformed them into the beautifully stylized one to three bedroom casitas that make up Casa Gallina today, he told me.
Guests love the Casa, which is located just outside of the heart of Taos, and for good reason. Not only because of our charming host, but because the entire grounds with the five casa’s surrounded by Taos Mountain and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains are equally charming.
When we woke up our first morning to the rooster crowing, I wandered downstairs to see if there was any coffee or anything in the refrigerator. I immediately discovered fresh eggs and coffee on the counter and milk and cream in the refrigerator to get us started during our stay. The casita is equipped with essentials for cooking at home. However, we didn’t have to cook because Richard showed up at our front door with the muffins and made us coffee.
Super G stepped out for a morning run (Richard suggests jogging with a stick due to the dogs in the neighborhood), while Richard and I chatted over our coffee and muffins and took a stroll around the property.
The entire Casa is aesthetically pleasing to the eye showcasing local artists and antique pieces as well as sustainable retaining its functionality as a farm with gardens and fruit orchards along the Rio Fernando River.
First, Richard and I stop off by the chicken coup, where I spotted him earlier this morning, before I knew it was him, out the kitchen window in the hen yard feeding the hens and gathering up eggs from the hen house. We toss our breakfast crumbs into the pen and watch as the hens scurry over clucking and gobbling up the crumbs.
Every morning guests are encouraged to share their scraps with the hens or toss it into the compost.
We then stroll over to one of the studios. Casa Gallina offers guests five casitas that range in size with two studios, a one bedroom, one two bedroom and two bath, and one three bedroom and two bath quarters. Every casita has an adobe fireplace to keep warm by and its own patio (in our case we had a patio and a deck) to take in Taos’ mountains by day and stars by night.
One of the studios is easily converted into an art, dance (Richard is an avid Argentine Tango dancer), or yoga studio when available, but nearly every casita is filled throughout the year, Richard tells me. Guests love it so much that an estimated 25% return regularly, a hallmark since it opened 12 years ago.
If the studio isn’t available for on-site yoga and dance, guests can get centered with complementary yoga at Shree Yoga courtesy of the yoga studio and Casa Gallina.
Like our casita, it was adorned with art, this time Matt’s artwork as he was preparing for an exhibit. Richard, who lived in New York for a while, takes pleasure in exhibiting local artists’ works and the evolution of New Mexico through beautiful things at Casa Gallina.
He has found the perfect balance between beauty, serenity, and keeping up with technology. Each casita is fully equipped with Wi-Fi, cable, and other modern day entertainment and necessities, but the environment encourages guests to unplug and relax.
The ambiance of refined Southwestern living and home is complemented by the outdoor activities and art galleries, which Taos is known, that are at guests’ fingertips. Head in one direction out of Casa Gallina and you are on biking and hiking trails during the spring through the fall and a half hour from Taos’ famed slopes during the winter. Culture and find dining is found within a five-minute drive from Casa Gallina’s front door at Taos Plaza.
Casa Gallina offers guests a perfect escape that touches on all of the senses and refreshes the soul in the beauty of Taos’ countryside.
Casa Gallina, 613 Callejon, Taos, New Mexico 87571. 575-758-2306. . CasaGallina.net.
RATING: 4 = black
(5 best – 0 worst: color code: 5 = midnight blue; 4 = black; 3 = Aqua; 2 = orange; 1 = gold; and 0 = green)
TYPE OF LODGING: LGBT-owned, Bed and Breakfast
CHECK OUT: $$ = $100 – $175
(Lowest price for a single night in a standard room during high-season)
SWEET DREAMS: The artisan aesthetics combined with the New Mexico country and hominess and hospitality makes this one of the best places Girls That Roam has stayed.
WORTH THE SLEEP?: zzz = Like being at home
VIBE: Kick off your shoes, do a little tango, paint, or take a stroll along the grounds, whatever you do get comfortable and breathe in deeply the creativity and serenity of New Mexico country life and the artistry of Taos.
SCENE: Down-to-earth, mellow, and simply country in the best sense you can tuck yourself away or say hello to your neighbors BBQing in your patio, feeding the chickens, or doing yoga or join Richard, the owner, in a tango.
LOCATION: Five minutes by car from the heart of Taos, it’s close and a brief escape from the world of art and fine dining and adventure in the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains.
ROOM: It was a little home to call our own in Taos. Cozy, beautiful and simply wonderful.
BATHROOM: Spacious, beautifully appointed and we loved the added touch of the Frida Kahlo cameo shower curtain that brought the stone flooring to life along with the wood accents. The water heated fast and there was plenty of light without sacrificing privacy.
AMENITIES: Fresh eggs from the hen house, a rooster as your alarm clock (if you want an alarm), gourmet and gluten-free food, full kitchen, Wi-Fi, Satellite TV, and a ton of charm.
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