Owners Steve and Connie Segner have created a distinctive reimagining of a luxury hotel. Built of hand-formed adobe blocks, El Portal is designed to resemble a 200-year-old hacienda; it’s a monument to fine craftsmanship. The vine-covered courtyard is a lulling place to read, commune with the plants, or enjoy a fire in the evening; the dining room is high-end rustic, with enormous wood beams (salvaged from a railroad bridge) and all sorts of interesting art cluttering the walls. The whole feeling is an interesting blend of casualness and luxury. You won’t have a chatty bellboy nattering on as you tramp a hundred yards to your door, but you will have a gracious hostess give you a quick tour of the facilities and show you to your room—just steps from the lodge—with a minimum of fuss and bother. It’s perfect for folks who are happy to spend money on an elegant hotel but hate corporate pretension and officiousness. Each of the enormous guest rooms has its own distinctive character, from Arts and Crafts to cowboy chic. Bathrooms are huge, most rooms have whirlpool tubs, and many have private balconies with red-rock views. There are delightful snacks in the afternoon and exquisite breakfasts. The location is very handy, too, right next to the genteel Tlaquepaque shopping plaza and a 5-minute walk to Uptown.