While Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya have stolen everyone’s attention in Mexico, the chic colonial hideout has reinvented itself. While you won’t find an amusement park, you will find an abundance of quality, style and serenity. Here are my three picks:
Starting Rate: Deluxe rooms $280 per night; suites $355-480
Major travel publications like Travel & Leisure have been lauding this chic resort and spa among the worldâ€™s best since it opened in late 2004, for good reason. Picture a lavish colonial mansion with big, leafy walled courtyards in the heart of one of the most authentic cities in Mexico. Next modernize it. Touch the walls with spots of deep reds and blues to go with the whitewashed walls and hardwood floors and furniture. Add contemporary furniture and amenities like La Occitane bath accessories and Wi-fi. That’s Dos Casas. It doesn’t shy from its past, but accentuates it around every corner while only minimally breaking from the theme. For instance their lively little wine bar – added to the property in 2006 – isn’t exactly something you’d find three hundred years ago, yet it fits.
Starting Rate: Suites from $285 per night
Just four rooms make up this extraordinarily elegant Mudejar style boutique hotel built on top of a 17th century ruin in San Miguel’s colonial center. Designed by Mitu Atelier, it has the amenities of a finer resort with the character and personal attention of a bed and breakfast. Each of the bedrooms is unique, but all feature a similar mish mash of styles. At Casa Oasis colonial antiques and handcrafted wooden furniture like four poster beds, French doors, and pillow heavy daybeds are as common as flat screen LCD TVs and 1000 thread count sheets. Fireplaces and small plant filled terraces and patios adorn each room. Extras: rooftop patio, complimentary breakfast, Wi-fi and large wine celler.
Casa Sierra Nevada
Starting Rate: Deluxe rooms from $312 per night
Owned by the prestigious Orient Express hospitality company, Casa Sierra Nevada, both a hotel and prestigious cooking school embraces the colonial charm of San Miguel de Allende completely. Stone archways, hand carved wooden doors, tiles and cobblestone patios dominate the property. Even guest rooms feature Spanish colonial and Mexican antiques and period furniture. That’s not say they’ve left out the lavishness the chain is known for: DVD players, Talavera bathrooms, and suites with heated bathroom floors and rooftop plunge pools. Each guest room has either a wood or gas fireplace as well. Families more than anyone appreciate the range of cultural activities such as dance classes and languages lessons have been woven into the fabric of the hotel experience here, as have treatments at the Laja Spa and dining at their Andanza and Casa del Parque restaurants.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.