When people ask me about my favorite place in the world, somewhere I could go back to 1,000 times and not feel one bit of fatigue, I immediately say San Miguel de Allende. Located in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, the picture-perfect town is an enchanting fusion of well-kept Spanish Colonial-style edifices housing charming boutique hotels, independent boutiques, artisan studios, ambrosial restaurants (many set in courtyards of old aristocratic mansions), and traditional markets vending local folklore-esque crafts. So, without further ado, we present our “San Miguel de Allende Destination Guide” below.
Casa Hoyos is a 16-key boutique hotel brimming with a juxtaposing Mexican-inspired design: Its interior pairs the feel of a traditional hacienda (think yellow-tiled walls and an open central patio) with a contemporary appearance made possible via punctuated exposed concrete. The rooftop pool serves as a great place to catch a tan with a cityscape view.
Hotel Matilda is a contemporary gem with an unrivaled art collection: Bosco Sodi, Aldo Chaparro, and Nacho Rodriguez Bach are just a few of the talented masterminds behind Hotel Matilda’s wealth of masterpieces. It gets better: There’s even a Diego Riviera — a portrait he painted of the hotel owner’s mother — hanging in the lobby. Onsite Spa Matilda is exceedingly rejuvenating with its emphasis on energy, recovery, focus, radiance, and decompression. Elect to try the Decompress Treatment, which suffuses coconut, vanilla, and lavender scrub.
Atrio is a vibey rooftop restaurant proximate to San Miguel de Allende’s locus and cathedral. In addition to its two-story courtyard blueprint and beguiling second-floor terrace lined with potted plants, the modish lunch & dinner spot serves up a winsome variety of shareable dishes imbuing international fare.
Italian food in San Miguel de Allende? Absolutely — reserve a table at Casa Nostra, which hosts a menu featuring a breadth of Italian dishes. Another plus is the rooftop terrace. When here, order the Ravioli Casa Nostra, comprising flambee beet, caramelized pears, blue cheese, nuts, and white wine sauce with a dose of mascarpone.
Cocktail sipping is best done at BEKEB, which occupies Casa Hoyos’ rooftop. Master mixologist and former leader at famous NYC restaurant & bar Cosme, Fabiola Padilla, curates a multi-dimensional cocktail menu. Cityscape views, olive-toned furniture, and a slim-lettered neon sign saying “I want us to love each other,” are the setting. Among many other fantastic imbibe concoctions, the Carajillo Allende — made up of espresso, cacao liquor, and banana liquor — is a must-order.
Located on the outskirts of the main town, Fábrica La Aurora is an art lover’s haven replete with local and expat-run galleries, boutiques, and cafés. From 1902-1991 the site was an active textile mill — now, even though it has taken on a new life, remnants such as looms, controls, and engines still exist throughout the premises.
Shop San Miguel de Allende’s Many Independent Boutiques
San Miguel de Allende is chock full of modish boutiques and concept stores carrying the wares of independent Mexican designers. Concept store-wise, Doce 18 Concept House and Casa R Concept Store stock a wide range of trappings, from casual wear to handbags and embroidered shirts. A few other places to put on your shopping agenda: Recreo for upscale clothes; Mixta for home goods, jewelry, clothes, and accessories; then Mojingangas 62, an artisanal shop selling traditional Mojingangas: giant puppets made out of paper maché.
Mercado de Artesenías
Jewelry from the south of Mexico, rugs woven in Oaxaca, colorful handmade toys assembled in Oaxaca, and Guanajuato-molded pottery are just a handful of the culturally rich artisanal work found throughout this several-block market. You can find lots of traditional art here, from hand-painted skulls to colorful plates.
Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel
This historical neo-gothic church is a San Miguel de Allende architectural icon in the city’s central square, Jardin Allende. After you mosey through the church, if you have some time, sit on a tree-covered bench and observe the town’s enchantment: Local vendors, denizens, and tourists fill this gathering spot.
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