Casa Hoyos is a hip urban hideaway set amid rose-pink spires and terracotta domes in the beguilingly baroque Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende, a block from El Jardin, the verdant main square.
Guanajuato airport, about 90 minutes’ drive from the hotel, is served by direct daily flights from a number of major US hubs. It’s about an hour from Queretaro airport and just under four hours from Mexico City. Taxis and bus services to San Miguel are available from all three airports.
Adventure-seekers are in for a treat as the expansive landscape of Guanajuato state – arid desert one minute, rainforest the next – lends itself perfectly to road trips. Hire a car at the airport in Mexico City and meander gently north via the ancient Aztec ruins at Teotihuacán, the city of Guanajuato, and Bernal’s monolithic volcanic boulder, one of the world’s largest. There’s free valet parking for guests a block from the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
The pleasing quietude of the paved courtyard and sunkissed roof terrace make the casa hard to leave. You could easily spend entire days eschewing the cultural wonders beyond the front door in favour of shuttling gently from massage room to patio to rooftop pool. Step outside though, and you’ll soon discover why San Miguel de Allende is so in vogue with in-the-know LA and NYC hipsters right now: colourful buildings in turmeric yellow, sky blue and pomegranate red showcase magnificent Mexican and colonial Spanish architecture along wonkily-cobbled Unesco-listed streets, meaning snap-happy – and high-heeled – visitors won’t get anywhere fast.
The city’s main square, El Jardin, more than lives up to its name. Here, perfectly manicured laurel trees provide shade for an afternoon of high-quality people watching, and mariachi bands add a festive atmosphere on weekends. The square is also where you’ll find the city’s most photographed building. Best snapped at dawn or dusk, Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel is a fine Gothic confection in pale pink stone, its soaring towers often earning it not unreasonable comparisons to a wedding cake.
San Miguel de Allende morphed into something of a cultural mecca when bohemian artists and artisans gravitated here in their hundreds in the wake of the Mexican War of Independence. You’ll find evidence of this everywhere, but no more so than in the thriving markets where colourful handpainted ceramics, woven tote bags and unique silver jewellery are yours for a song – assuming you barter like a pro. The covered Mercado de Artesanias is open daily, while Tianguis Organico in the Instituto Allende art school is the place to go for artisan foodie treats on weekends – trust us, that fresh-off-the-grill chicken quesadilla oozing cheese will do wonders for your mezcal-cocktail hangover.
A short stroll in the direction of the Parroquia brings you to Cumpanio, a French-Italian restaurant, brunch bar and bakery that lays claim to a menu of over 120 dishes. Good luck deciding what you’re going to eat… Will it be the ricotta and pumpkin flower ravioli? Or perhaps beef braised in beer, with polenta and asparagus? In the unlikely event you’re still hungry after that you can drop by one of their three dedicated Panio bakery outposts to pick up a cheeky cruffin or cronut on the go.
Also just off the square is the Restaurant. The contemporary fare here is way more imaginative than the unassuming name might suggest, with dishes like braised coffee-and-ancho-chilli ribs and ricotta cavatelli with spicy fennel sausage served in a sunny Moroccan-style courtyard with climbing vines and neoclassical pillars.
Aficionados of churros and Mexican soap operas will find much to enjoy at San Augustin Chocolate & Churros, where owner and star of countless telenovelas Margarita Gralia serves up the sweet doughy treat alongside a variety of hot-chocolate dipping sauces. A galaxy of photos and posters of Margarita through the ages adorns the walls. We’ll leave it to you to decide which of these two national treasures – Margarita or her churros – is the main attraction here.
You don’t have to be a semi-celebrity to run a café in this town…but it helps. US artists Cheryl Finnegan and Jaime Shelley’s Café Rama is part taco joint, part pop-art gallery, part jewellery store and – in a city that loves its food and wears its art on its sleeve – 100 per cent San Miguel.
It doesn’t get much more Mexico than sipping tequila in a 17th-century stables, home to the Dragones of San Miguel regiment’s horses during the Mexican War of Independence. Now a small-batch tequila producer with a tiny six-seater tasting room tiled in black obsidian, Casa Dragones offers tours and intimate tasting sessions of its trio of tequilas. Because one is just never enough.
Set in a colonial building behind a colourful red-and-yellow facade La Adelita is a real slice of old Mexico, where locals huddle round small tables sipping tequila and mezcal, and punch-packing mojitos keep the atmosphere lively until well after sundown.