Discerning travellers in search of the real Mexico will fall in love with thepueblo mágico of Valle de Bravo and its boutique hotel La Casa Rodavento. This seven-room stay on the edge of Lake Avándaro is not one for sombrero seekers: instead, guests who make the two-hour drive west from Mexico City will find cobblestoned charm, lively locals and an altogether more authentic Mexican experience. The hotel's buzzy rooftop has a Jacuzzi and views of Valle de Bravo’s cathedral; plus, there’s also another pool in the central courtyard, right next to the Nuestro restaurant, where you're guaranteed a feast of moreish Mexican meals.
1pm, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm, also flexible.
Double rooms from $145.97 (MXN2,800), excluding tax at 16 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of 4% per room per night on check-out and an additional service charge of 15% per room per night on check-out.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast (from 455 pesos a person).
Tourism is pretty new on the Valle de Bravo agenda, but if you want to experience an authentic Mexican community in a crowd-free way, this is the destination to do it.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, car park. In rooms: TV, Nespresso coffee machine, Bose speakers, iPod dock air-conditioning, free bottled water and L’Occitane or Bannik bath products.
Our favourite rooms
There are only seven and each has its loveable bits. We particularly admire Room Seven’s two balconies, valley views, private patio and garden-facing bath tub; Room Four’s outdoor shower; and Room Two’s private rooftop terrace. If your needs are modest, Room One’s the smallest. Four of the bedrooms are in a more modern building at the back of the existing house.
There are two: a heated pool in the hotel’s central patio and a Jacuzzi up on the roof.
There’s no spa at La Casa, but guests can access the one at the sister property nearby, Hotel Rodavento. Pilates, yoga and other fitness classes can be arranged.
Bring your quad-bike-friendly clothing and cobblestone-friendly footwear.
There are no specially adapted rooms, but the lobby, pool and restaurant are accessible for wheelchair users.
This grown-up getaway is for guests aged 18-and-over only.
Outside, listening to the trickles of the fountain by the pool.
The hotel attracts a cool crowd – make it minimalist but don’t be afraid of a vibrant flash of colour.
Nuestro serves top-drawer Mexican food in a gloriously laid-back setting. The ingredients are all hyper local and hyper seasonal, which means the menu changes all the time – the only given is that it will taste delicious (and look pretty darn amazing, too). Food is also served on the rooftop. Breakfast is set up in your room (suites One, Three, Four and Six), in your living room (Suite Five) or on your terrace (suites Two and Seven).
The mixologist was lured from Mexico City and is a master of the mojito, along with everything else – ask for their choice and you won’t be disappointed (especially if it’s mezcal based). Drinks can be served in the bar by the restaurant and on the rooftop, as can tacos, tostadas and gazpacho.
Breakfast is from 7am until 1pm. Food and drinks are served any time you want them, provided it’s between 7am and 11pm.
Food from the restaurant can be served in your room 24 hours a day, but it’s a reduced version of the menu between 11pm and 6am.
La Casa Rodavento is in Valle de Bravo, west of Mexico City.
It’s a two-hour drive to Mexico City’s airport; Toluca’s airport is 80 kilometres away.
Mexico City is a headache to navigate by car, and the winding cobblestone streets of Valle de Bravo won’t be much fun either (though there is a valet for the brave).
Valle de Bravo’s aerodrome welcomes incoming helicopters and private planes can land at Toluca airport.
Worth getting out of bed for
Once you’ve tried and tested every cocktail on the mixologist’s menu and admired the cathedral from the rooftop, head out to find the magic of this pueblo mágico (a government-bestowed honour upon particularly miraculous Mexican towns), which features the largest Buddhist stupa in the west, as well as a craft market. The Monte Alto reserve is a haven for hiking, biking and paragliding; the concierge at sister property Hotel Rodavento can also arrange zip-lining, kayakingand archery. It’s a good idea, especially if you don’t speak Spanish, to leave the activity arranging to the hotel, who will guide you to the best vendors. Lepidopterology lovers will find sanctuary at the Monarch Butterfly Reserve. You might be able to see its towers from your room, but check them out up close by walking down to the Parroquia de San Francisco de Asís church.
For a Mexican town, there are a lot of Italian restaurants around, but the real bounty is its street food – ask the hotel to guide you to the best carts. Try Italik Cafe or one of the resident bakeries for brunch. Soleado, Cocina del Mundo on Avenida Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza labels itself a kitchen of the world, and sure enough you’ll find international dishes (but with a subtle Mexican makeover). Tasty tapas awaits at VE Cocina Espanolaon Avenida Rosales.
Join the lively local cocktail crew at La Mezca de Valle on Avenida Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza.
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 boutique hotel in Mexico and unpacked their mezcal, a full account of their countryside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside La Casa Rodavento in Valle de Bravo…
Ah, Mexico. Land of mariachis, mole and mezcal… but much as we love all three, it’s good to escape the tourist trail. Thankfully, we’ve found and fallen in love with Valle de Bravo and its boutique bolthole La Casa Rodavento. This small town on the banks of Lake Avándaro, two hours west of Mexico City, is a secret sanctuary away from the crowds. Its winding cobblestone streets are decorated with attractive low-roofed villas, one of which is La Casa, once a private mansion belonging to the owner of neighbouring Hotel Rodavento, and now yours to borrow. The chef and mixologist are the creative kind: both the drinks and dinner menus change all the time to keep up with local produce, but you’re in for some unforgettable tacos and cocktails whenever you stay. The Mexican government thinks it’s magical – the town has been awarded pueblo mágico status – and so do we.
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