Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada isn’t just a single casa – there are five colonial mansions linked by cactus-filled gardens in the heart of the artistically-inclined San Miguel de Allende. Stuccoed terraces overlook the ample open-air pool, and a secluded spa completes the feel of an inner-city sanctuary. The rooms are layered in luxury, with carved wooden headboards, antique tapestry rugs and storied quarrystone fireplaces. Top up your tortilla skills at the chef-led cookery school, or attend an art workshop at the in-house studio. Then push open the centuries-old doors, and explore the carnival of colour and culture outside.
Noon, check-in 3pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £276.26 ($358), including tax at 30 per cent.
Rates don’t include breakfast; it’s $20 for the continental, or you can choose from à la carte options such as pancakes ($6), chilaquiles ($8) and eggs Benedict ($11).
At the Sazón cookery school, the pro chef invites you into his 18th-century mansion kitchen for courses in Mexican classics, healthy cooking, and deep-dives into regional specialities.
At the hotel
Gym, free WiFi. In rooms: Minibar, tea and coffee, Primavera bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Never underestimate the power of a plunge pool – each of the Deluxe Studio Suites in Casa Palma and Casa Limón has one, as well as a private terrace. Or plump for the Presidential Suite, which has postcard views of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel.
City-centre hotel pools are often on the small side, but not this one – it’s a lap-able lagoon of turquoise water, flanked by colourful flowers, colonial stonework and luxurious loungers in the courtyard of Casa Palma.
The spa has a local flavour: it’s named after the nearby Laja River, has airy, colonial-style treatment rooms flooded with natural light, and Mexican botanicals go into the fragrant creams and oils. Choose from a range of holistic beauty therapies, like the signature ‘Exclusive Massage’ – 80 minutes of muscle-soothing bliss that will leave you relaxed and radiant.
Bring a pocket Scoville scale, so you know what you’re getting yourself into with the local chilis.
This hotel isn’t set up for wheelchair users.
Pets under 25lbs are welcome to tag along, for $24 a night. You’ll have to keep your four-legged friend on a leash though, and they’re not allowed in the restaurant, bar, pool or spa, even if they ask really nicely. See more pet-friendly hotels in San Miguel de Allende.
All ages welcome. Foldaway cots can be added to all rooms. Ask the concierge to book a babysitter, just give at least 24 hours’ notice.
There are no winners or losers here. At Andanza you’ll be by the storied stone arches on the patio; at Restaurante del Parque, the tables are clustered around talavera mosaics and a trickling fountain.
Patterns and prints to fit in with artsy San Miguel; in winter, something to keep you cosy on cool evenings.
There are two. Open-air Restaurante del Parque looks over the lavender garden, and serves a menu of Mexican classics with a contemporary twist – signature dishes include roasted steak with arriera sauce, corn truffle bread and epazote, as well as soft shell crab tacos with purple cabbage, pico de gallo and chipotle sauce. Andanza is a more formal affair, where chef Mariel Beiza concocts dishes such as duck magret in a crust of fresh spices, and beef fillet with meat reduction, butter sauce and mushrooms.
The Blue Bar is intimate and authentic, with indigo stools at gnarled wooden tables and artisan tequilas stacked on golden shelves. Kick back with a cocktail on the sun-drenched patio, or snuggle up by roaring log fire.
Both restaurants are open all day, from 7am until 11pm. The bar is open from 5pm until 11pm.
Take your pick from light bites and main courses on the extensive room service menu.
Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada is in the historic heart of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico.
The closest major airport is Guanajuato International, 90km from San Miguel de Allende (an hour and a half in a taxi); Aeromexico fly regularly from Mexico City in an hour, and there are direct routes to Texas and California, too. Or, fly to Mexico City (11 and a half hours from London with British Airways), and proceed by car from there (the drive takes three hours). Querétaro Intercontinental Airport is a third option, 70km from the hotel, with direct flights from Mexico City (one hour), Houston (just under two hours) and Dallas (just over two hours). Transfers can be arranged on request.
It’ll be useful to have your own car to explore Mexico’s Central Highlands. Hire from the airport, and drop your set of wheels with the valet at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Join an early morning market tour, and pluck seasonal ingredients from the stalls, ready to be transformed into spicy salsas and ultra-fresh salads for lunch. Coax out your inner Kahlo with an art workshop in the Casa Parque studio – visiting experts lead painting classes using everything from beginner-friendly watercolours to advanced-level oils. You can never have enough pool time (especially at one like this), and the Laja Spa awaits for stress-busting holistic treatments.
Complete your SMA (San Miguel de Allende) initiation with a walking tour of the city – the hotel offers one focused specifically on art, tracing the stories of Rivera, Siqueiros and Kahlo along the cobblestone streets. Stop at La Casa Dragones for a private tequila tasting in the 17th-century house, and at Fabrica La Aurora to browse antiques emporia and design shops inside the converted textile mill. Take a hot-air balloon high above the city for a whole new perspective on that the pointy pinnacles of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. Hire bikes and pedal out to the pottery-crazy village of Dolores Hidalgo, stopping to gawp at the frescoes of the Unesco-approved Sanctuary of Atotonilco on the way. For rural rough-and-tumble, explore by ATV, or do it the old-fashioned way with a horse riding hack to a traditional ranch. Ramble through 2,000 olive trees at Finca Luca Serena and taste the oil over a farmhouse lunch, then move onto Hacienda San Jose Lavista for Mexican merlots and malbecs. All that activity calls for a soak in the hot springs – drive 20 minutes to local-favourite La Gruta, or book in at the private Maya Baths.
Get your artisan mementos at the sprawling Mercado de Artesanias (and go on a spontaneous street-food crawl while you’re at it).
Chef Donnie Masterton made it in Manhattan before moving to Mexico – now he serves up brunches to boast about at The Restaurant (the name might lack imagination but the menu doesn’t – go for the sauté asparagus with white truffle oil, poached eggs and parmesan crust). Cevicheria la Muy Muyis a specialist in seafood, assembling plates of zesty ceviche along with tempura prawn tacos. On the open-air terrace at the Rosewood hotel you’ll find tapas and cocktails at Luna Rooftop, along with conveniently jaw-dropping views of the city. Moxi has state-of-the-art swagger, and a menu featuring pork belly in red mole sauce, and marinated octopus risotto.
There’s no shortage of margaritas in San Miguel de Allende, but there are none better than at The Bar at Dôce 18 – as it happens, it’s also something of a creative hub, so check out the galleries and boutique shops too.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury boutique hotel in Mexico and unpacked their painted pottery and tequila tasting sets, a full account of their Guanajuato break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende…
Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada has got some seriously historic street-cred – the colonial architecture dates back over 300 years, and is filled with original features and antique design pieces. But while it successfully showcases the past, it’s also forward-thinking. Rather than a traditional hotel housed in a single structure, this is a cluster of once-residential casas, each with its own story and its own particular charm. Between them, the gardens are dotted with cactus plants and agave trees, stone mosaics and fountains twinkling in the sunlight. Rooms have unifying themes (clay tiled floors and indigo fabrics), but individual features too – a hand-carved antique mirror in one, a Frida Kahlo portrait in another. There’s no shortage of upscale hotel perks – butler service is standard and there’s a spa menu to work your way through – but this is a place where you can’t fail to feel at home.
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