In the prettily colonial landscape of this central Mexican city, sleek and contemporary Hotel Matilda – with its elegant restaurant and engaging modern art collection – stands out beautifully. Among the Unesco-protected historic sites, the hotel’s modern façade hides a stylish hideaway with a perfect pool, renowned dining and a small spa that serves up some marvellous massages.
Get this when you book through us:
One 30-minute Hammam treatment for two and daily American breakfast
The Grand Deluxe has possibly the most private of all the hotel’s terraces, overlooking the pool; the bedroom itself is on the small side, but it’s unique and really lovely. The largest suite in the house is Owner's Suite C, with its enormous private patio ringed with saguaro cacti, lavender, lime and tangerine trees. It’s a peaceful spot, away from the pool.
This is definitely a place for leisurely lounging, not laps: the infinity pool is surrounded by a gently bubbling fountain, palm fronds and beautiful bougainvillea.
Don’t forget your sunblock – San Miguel de Allende’s about 6,000ft above sea level so the sun is strong. And, bring shoes in which you can comfortably navigate the historic town’s often steep cobblestoned streets.
Neither guest rooms nor common areas are easily accessible in a wheelchair.
Unlike the book and musical, this Matilda’s not for kids.
Solar panels heat water for guest rooms and the swimming pool; lights automatically dim to reduce energy use; organic waste is composted; and glass, plastic and paper are recycled. The Malin + Goetz toiletries in every guest room are in large, refillable bottles. Plants used in the hotel’s landscaping are all indigenous to this part of Mexico.
Request a table outside to make the most of the good weather.
Think, what would a modern-art collector wear? Aim for elegant but not stuffy: designer jeans are a safe bet.
In Moxi, chef Enrique Olvera serves up his own take on traditional Mexican dishes, such as huitlacoche tamales with Oaxacan cheese or octopus with pico de gallo sauce and coriander pesto. The menu changes seasonally, depending on the freshest harvest from top local producers.
There’s no official bar, but drinks can be served in the lobby, around the lounge and out on the terrace.
Moxi, the restaurant, is open 7am–10pm.
During restaurant hours, anything from the menu can be delivered to your room.
San Miguel de Allende is in eastern Guanajuato, central Mexico, about three hours’ drive from Mexico City.
The most convenient place to arrive by air is Guanajuato International Airport (www.aueropuertosggap.com/mx; commonly called Del Bajío), 170km from the hotel, which has service from throughout the country as well as several major US cities.
There’s on-site parking (drop your luggage at the front door first) and also valet service.
Worth getting out of bed for
San Miguel de Allende is a Unesco World Heritage Site packed with well-preserved colonial architecture as well as important sites from the Mexican War of Independence, so ask hotel staff about local walking tours if you’d like to learn more about local history. And if you fancy seeing more of the landscape, hot air balloons are the way to go…
La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, San Miguel’s parish church, is one of Mexico’s most photographed, thanks to its inspired Gothic facade – it’s also the town emblem. The laurel-shaded square in front of the church (‘El Jardín’) is a top spot for sitting and watching the world go by (Principal SN, San Miguel de Allende 37700; +52 415 152 0544).
Pick up one-of-a-kind ornaments, jewellery, furniture and other brightly coloured odds and ends made by artists from nearby and throughout Mexico at eclectic shop Mixta (Pila Seca 3, San Miguel de Allende 37700; +52 415 152 7343; www.mixtasanmiguel.com).
Run by Chef Emanuel Cervantes, Sazon cooking school offers market tours and classes in everything from traditional to cutting-edge Mexican cuisine, all held in the 18th century casa (Hospicio 42, San Miguel de Allende 37700; +52 415 152 7040).
Boasting probably the sleekest decor in town, bread-devoted bakery and restaurant Cumpanio has an elegant dining room as well as a terrace, where breakfast in the sun is almost unbeatable. The pastries are particularly fantastic (Correo 29, San Miguel de Allende 37700; +52 415 152 2984; www.cumpanio.com). Although the Restaurant's name might sound simple, the menu’s a fine-dining fiesta at this smart spot: the traditionally colonial-style setting is beautiful (there are charming tiles even in the kitchen), and chef aims to serve 'global comfort food' (Sollano 16, San Miguel de Allende 37700; +52 415 154 7877; www.therestaurantsanmiguel.com). The drinks, tapas and ambience at La Azotea are all wonderful, but the star attraction is the spectacular view of the city (Umaran 6, San Miguel de Allende 37700; +52 415 152 4977; www.azoteasanmiguel.com).
Mr Smith and I arrived at Leon airport after a few days in Tulum, feeling refreshed and ready to swap the sand for the city. Having recently discovered that aside from being a Unesco world heritage site, San Miguel de Allende had also been voted the ‘best city in the world’ by Travel + Leisure readers, I had high hopes for the weekend.
Bumbling along a cobbled lane we pulled up at Hotel Matilda and were welcomed by two friendly porters who, in their crisp tailoring and matching Converse, looked far less dishevelled than we did. A discrete sliding gate peeled back to reveal a serene patio where, at the centre, stood a huge jacaranda tree, all purple and blooming with lanterns hanging from it. So far, so beautiful.
Beyond the patio and through glass doors we entered the lobby area, which was vast yet inviting, filled with velvet sofas and armchairs, immense bouquets of flowers, church candles, a fireplace and books...so many books. They lined the walls and peppered every coffee table. A wide selection too; from modern Taschen titles to obscure, vintage finds and niche magazines.
Elegant yet bold, with a charming sophistication, Hotel Matilda is a refreshingly modern hideaway. Eschewing the colonial roots of its location, the 32-room boutique hotel offers a present-day take on the art scene which San Miguel has long provided a hotbed for. It houses an extensive collection of works by renowned artists including sculptures by Javier Marin and photography by Spencer Tunick. My favourite stand-out pieces were the large-scale mixed media wall hanging by Bosco Sodi which occupies the lobby-meets-library and a portrait by muralist Diego Rivera of the hotel’s namesake and owner’s mother, Matilda.
Everything feels relaxed and sophisticated and the service we encountered was unfussy, efficient and warm. Our Grand Deluxe room was modern, functional and beautiful in its simplicity, outfitted in a neutral palette of grey and beige with a concrete feature wall and yellow armchair providing a pop of colour. I loved the industrial-looking bedside lamps hanging from silver chains and small touches like iPod docks and automatic dimmer-controlled lighting made the room feel homely.
Some say it’s the bed, others say it’s the minibar; I think the true indicator of a fabulous hotel room is the bathroom. In this respect, Hotel Matilda didn’t disappoint me. Sliding wooden doors revealed a spacious double-sink bathroom, plush robes, Malin & Goetz products in full supply and full length mirrors behind the doors (I never understand a hotel room which lacks these).
By 3pm the room became a lovely sun trap and the small balcony overlooking the courtyard and outdoor pool area was a delightful place to soak up a few rays while planning our afternoon. In terms of practicality, you couldn’t ask for a better location. While tucked away in one of the many narrow cobbled streets of the city centre, it’s still very much in the mix of it all – less than a five minute walk from the hustle and bustle of the main square, Jardin Allende. I was pleasantly surprised at just how walkable the entire centre was – there was never any need to get a taxi, except for when venturing further out of the city or if wearing heels, which were no match for the ancient cobblestones.
After spending most of the day perusing San Miguel’s endless art galleries, admiring the gothic steeples of La Parroquia, wandering through market after market and peeking in to pretty much every other nook and cranny of the city, we retired back to our hotel room for a pre-dinner siesta.
Dinner at Enrique Olvera´s Moxi restaurant boldy presented Mexico’s finest, freshest ingredients with some deliciously modern touches. While the portions were on the smaller side, the rich flavours left us feeling satisfied with just enough room for some cocktails. The hotel makes the most of the year-round warm climate with plenty of outdoor space and so we enjoyed prickly pear margaritas al fresco on the upstairs terrace of Mui. While Mui bar was well stocked and beautiful, the vibe was a little too tranquil for us, so we slipped out to explore some of the local rooftop hangouts instead.
The next morning we tucked into breakfast back at the poolside terrace. The complimentary spread was simple but sufficient: toast, juices, coffee and yoghurt with granola. You wouldn’t want to fill up anyway, as there is far too much street food to try in San Miguel – tacos, churros, mango chilli ice-cream…
A fleeting visit to the spa that afternoon provided the perfect way to unwind and relax after another busy day of exploring. It’s a little cocoon of subterranean serenity, with a single person hammam and steam bath and generous menu of massages, treatments and therapies. After my invigorating deep tissue massage and Natura Bissè facial I took a peek into the gym, which is compact but perfectly formed, before heading back upstairs to the lobby, which turned out to be a great little spot to get a few hours of work done before heading to the airport.
Our stay at Hotel Matilda was truly special – it was the perfect little sanctuary within the bold and beautiful San Miguel de Allende.