Astride a string of fashion boutiques, art galleries and enticing eateries, L'Otel atDôce 18 Concept House is a window onto San Miguel de Allende’s creative scene. The colonial-era casa is the former home of Isaac Cohen, a legendary local businessman who arrived from Syria with barely a penny to his name. In keeping with his entrepreneurial spirit, the pink-stone building has now become the Concept House, a hub for the city’s artistic community. On the ground floor, you’ll find everything from fine tequila to homegrown fashion; upstairs, you’ll bed down in cool, cotton-coloured rooms furnished with artistic flair. On the roof, you’ll discover a sun-trapping terrace and pool clad in checkerboard tiles – a dreamlike retreat from Centro’s bustling streets.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £275.39 ($380), including 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 10% per room per night on check-out.
Rates include breakfast. There’s a buffet with freshly-baked bread, fresh fruit, yoghurt and healthy toppings, and an à la carte menu that includes hot and traditional Mexican options.
The casa had just one partially-finished floor when entrepreneur Isaac Cohen moved in, housing his family and running his store from the premises. As his business blossomed, he built a second story and added an ornamental façade of stone animals, earning the casa the nickname ‘Noah’s Ark’.
At the hotel
Art, fashion, food and design boutiques; library; café; coffee shop; free WiFi throughout; laundry. In rooms: flatscreen TV with Netflix; minibar; Nespresso coffee machine; free Euroté tea and bottled water; Ablu bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Even the entry-level rooms have balconies and outdoor showers, so you can expect to be spoiled even if you’re on a budget. If you’re in the market for unrestrained indulgence, swing for the sprawling Owner’s Suite, the only room with a private garden – planted with fragrant fruit trees, no less.
The pool is on the roof terrace, clad in eye-catching checkerboard tiles that make it look like a vast chessboard. It’s surrounded by tall windows, old stonework and a sky-blue wall flecked with painted clouds, protecting it from the bustle of the streets. Sip your drink on one of the sunloungers or small tables arranged along the terrace, or catch rays from the cushions strewn across the set of oversized steps.
In-room spa treatments can be arranged, and the Concept House hosts regular yoga and pilates classes.
Don’t overdo it – with everything from customised leather jackets to silky smooth tequila available in the building, you’re bound to need some extra packing room on your return journey.
There is a lift, but the hotel doesn't have any adapted rooms and isn’t particularly well laid out for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome, but the hotel’s better suited to older children and teens. The Deluxe Double Suite can sleep up to four, working well as a family room.
At Jacinto, go for one of the banquettes that run along the sides of the room.
Be bold – bright colours and striking patterns will hit the mark at Jacinto 1930.
Although it’s not strictly part of the hotel, Jacinto 1930 is the resident fine-dining restaurant. As the name suggests, it pays tribute to Mexico as it was in the Thirties, when the art deco movement swept through the cities, adding a new, glittering chapter to the country’s history. The sense of a gilded era is echoed in the dining room, where Thirties features like a mosaic-tiled floor (typical of restaurants at the time) sit among more industrial details that recall the building’s days as a copper factory. Every inch in tune with this history, chef Israel Loyola has gone back to the country’s culinary roots, taking Mexico’s most famous foodstuff, maize, as a source of inspiration. Expect colourful and creative dishes built around some of Mexico’s most prized ingredients, which sometimes appear in new and novel forms. If you’re after something more casual, the Kitchen and Pantry have another 12 options between them, including food stalls and pint-sized restaurants serving tacos, gourmet burgers and classic Italian comfort food.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to drinks, whether you’re after a midday spritz, sunset cocktail or agave nightcap. The bar is the place for all things shaken and stirred, manned by skilled mixologists who work from a wood-and-marble-topped bar. For fine tequila, stroll over to the Casa Dragones outlet, where you can always try before you buy. Select wines can be found at La Selección de la Casa by La Santísima Trinidad, a partnership between two esteemed local vineyards. Many of their bottles can be drunk by the glass, and you can pick up a bottle of your vintage at the end.
L'Otel at Dôce 18 Concept House is in San Miguel de Allende’s centro histórico, famous for its baroque architecture and flourishing arts scene.
The best place to touch down is Queretaro Airport, an hour’s drive from the hotel. It can be reached directly from Mexico City and select US airports, including Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta and Chicago Midway.
The hotel is right in the middle of the action, so you won’t be needing a car unless you want to explore the surrounding countryside. You’ll be able to walk to most of the sights and taxis are cheap and plentiful. If you do want to hire, the Smith24 team can arrange it.
Worth getting out of bed for
With a pool on the roof and all the diversions of the Concept House beneath your feet, you can entertain yourself for hours without even leaving the building. Browse boutiques selling ceramics, tequila and bespoke leather jackets or sample coffee, cocktails and Mexican snacks. Leaning towards lounging? Kick back with a book in the library or on the sun-trapping roof terrace.
In the Thirties, an influx of artists and artisans transformed San Miguel from a quiet colonial town into a cosmopolitan and creative haven. This legacy is still clearly visible in its thriving markets, where traders peddle everything from hand-painted porcelain to jade-studded bracelets. One of the best places to pick up authentic Mexican crafts is the Mercado de Artesanias, a covered market that’s open daily and chock-full of handmade goods. On Saturdays, don’t miss the Tianguis Orgánico in the Instituto Allende art school, selling organic cakes, chocolate, cheeses and more. If you want an experience similar to the Concept House, pay a visit to Fábrica la Aurora, a refurbished textile mill filled with cafés, art studios and antique shops. For a slug of national history and fine drinking rolled into one, book a tour and tasting at La Casa Dragones, a famous cavalry stables turned small-batch tequila producer. Dating from 1671, the stables were once home to the horses of the Dragones of San Miguel, an elite cavalry regiment enshrined in history thanks to their decisive role in Mexico’s independence campaign. Today, the place is entirely given over to the production of their crystal-clear tequila, a spirit as smooth and sippable as an aged Scotch.
On your first visit, it’s worth braving the crowds to peek inside the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, the parish church that soars over the skyline like a giant pink wedding cake.
For brunch, book a table in the refined dining room at Moxi, serving Mexican cuisine with an international lean. On Saturdays, they serve a fixed brunch menu that usually runs to several courses. For a laid-back lunch, try Cevichería la Muy Muy, a stripped-back, modern restaurant serving simple seafood dishes and craft cocktails. For something a little smarter, try the The Restaurant. The tables at this enigmatically-named eatery are spread between an 18th-century Moroccan courtyard and an elegant dining room, where American chef Donnie Masterton serves his high-end comfort food, made with the best local produce he can get his hands on. Stylish fine dining can be had at Aperi, helmed by Franco-Mexican chef Olivier Deboise. Both the à la carte and tasting menus are a treat, with the fish and seafood winning particularly high praise.
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 creative-hub hotel in San Miguel de Allende and unpacked their custom leather jacket bought from DanCassab, a full account of their Mexican city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside L'Otel at Dôce 18 Concept House in San Miguel de Allende…
When shopkeeper Isaac Cohen first bought the long, low house on Relox 18, it was only one storey high – and unfinished at that. Part of the building was given over to his shop, and there was no garden to speak of, only space for horses and a vegetable patch. It was not, then, one of those palatial casas that often become hotels – but his ceaseless entrepreneurialism would change that. A Syrian native, Isaac had learnt the art of selling long before travelling to Mexico, and he had a knack for sourcing just what his customers wanted. As his business expanded, so did the house, eventually sprouting a second, more decorative storey topped with stone animals.
More than a century after the Cohens moved in, the casa became the Concept House, once again playing host to visionaries and entrepreneurs. Echoing San Miguel’s artistic leanings, it’s now filled with small shops, eateries and ateliers showcasing the talent of some of the city’s brightest creatives. Anyone staying in one of the stylish rooms – which are decorated in cooling whites and have alfresco baths or showers – have a host of diversions to keep them entertained, and access to buzzy areas like the Library and sun-soaked roof terrace. If you’re coming to the city with the hope of rubbing shoulders with San Miguel’s creative community, you couldn’t be staying at a better place.
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