San Miguel de Allende, the Heart of Mexico

A four-hour drive away from the restless capital of Mexico, there sits an authentic gem of colonial style in the highlands of Central Mexico: San Miguel de Allende, a charming and luxurious destination. Better yet, the Rosewood Hotel and its incredible garden form a beautiful symbiotic pair.

By Jean-Pierre Chanial
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

With over 400 years of history, the city of San Miguel de Allende stays true to itself and delights us. Forget all the fussing and snobbery. At the epicentre of the city is a beautiful cathedral, nestled in the heart of the historic old town, with its charming irregular paved streets shooting out in all directions from the plaza. Follow the streets down to the marketplace where you will be dazzled by all the colours and listen to the gossip of the residents. Nearby, there is a pedestrian street where leatherworking, ceramics, terracotta, glasswork, woodwork, and textile art converge. This uplifting and genuine city, tucked away in the mountains, also preserves a myriad of churches, chapels, and plazas abloom with flowers.

La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, the parish church of San Miguel.

A cerveza on the terrace

The Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel cathedral, with its pink stone façade and towers, is a sight to behold. This monument is at the very core of San Miguel de Allende – with its 70,000 inhabitants – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and emblem of the city. The church’s grandeur is breathtaking, though its interior is mainly a cool place to escape the sweltering July sun.

Friar Juan de San Miguel, founder of the city.

However, it is worth pausing a moment to take in the aesthetics of this edifice, with its high towers, its phenomenal façade, the tall statue of its guardian, San Miguel, and its garden plaza, always teeming with revelry. It is an ideal setting for a romantic getaway and a nice place to sip a fresh Corona.

An artist’s hideout

Established in 1592, exactly a hundred years after Columbus landed in Cuba aboard the Santa Maria, this stronghold of tranquillity sits at 1,900m high – watch out if you are short of breath. The Franciscan friar Juan de San Miguel raised a cross atop the hill, the first sign of a colony which would bear his name. Consciously established along the road leading from the silver-rich mountains – a Conquistador’s dream – and Mexico City, the city was later a seedbed of Mexican Independence. San Miguel de Allende certainly lives up to its motto ‘Hic Natus Ubique Notus’, or Born Here, Known Everywhere.

A stunning vista of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel.

Embracing its colonial heritage – a decision that would bear fruit – the city drew artists and adventurers from the neighbouring United States. And in snap, San Miguel de Allende became an artist’s hideout for a community of Yanks, just as Ibiza and Bali became the European hippies’ privileged destination.

Inventive craftsmanship

The city’s appeal hasn’t waned either. To this day, thousands of American artists, retirees, and staunch tele-workers live here, far from the everyday rush. This is manifested by the real estate ads for houses in dollars, the fancy windows of the charming houses in old downtown display the latest in trendy clothing and jewellery, and all around are art galleries, restaurants, and cafés. Granted, nothing here is cheap, but at least you can use your American Express anywhere. If you do want to spend your Mexican pesos – 1EUR for 18MXN – on some terrific traditional objects, head down to the Lucas Balderas Street. There you will find Mexico’s finest craftsmanship, from leatherwork, to woodworking, metalworking – silver above all – wool knitting, and semi-precious stones. Uniquely exotic objects with an irresistible appeal.

The best churros in Mexico

The best time to go to the San Juan de Dios covered market is in the morning. The atmosphere is electric, with the countless colours of the fruit stall, the neon religious knickknacks, and the cheap knockoffs of baseball hats and jerseys. Sinc we are in Mexico, it’s not unusual to see a towering statue of the Virgin Mary, as is the case here. Though the crowd is quite dense – beware of pickpockets – the townsfolk are cheerful and chatty. Take a minute to enjoy the best churros in all of Mexico, that’s a promise amigo.

The patio of the Rosewood Hotel.

Patios festooned with fountains

The harmonious city of San Miguel de Allende is worthy of a hotel that matches its rich heritage, and the Rosewood Hotel is the perfect fit. The 5-star establishment, with its 67 rooms and suites, its spa, pool, and restaurants – including a rooftop with a panoramic view on the cathedral – is flawless. Not to mention the bar with its selection of 70 tequilas. ‘Dos margaritas por favor!

The many properties of the luxury hotel and resort group are equally prestigious, be it in Paris, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, London’s West End, or Vancouver. Wherever it settles, it makes the extraordinary commonplace. The Rosewood San Miguel de Allende is housed in a picturesque hacienda, with a 16th-century Spanish Colonial feel.

With its high walls, spacious rooms, antiqued woods, monumental chimneys, patios with fountains, colonnades, subdued lights, heavy curtains, and canopied beds, not to mention the thousands of murals, paintings, sculptures, and crafted objects that adorn the walls and alcoves, it’s hard to believe this Rosewood was built in 2010.

Cudos to the architects who managed to expertly blend the traditional charm and the very best of modern comforts.

A hundred gardeners

In the gardens of Rosewood San Miguel de Allende.

The loveliest views of the hotel are in the gardens, behind its walls. A hundred gardeners tend to the exceptional and immense estate where cypresses, orange trees, jacarandas and palms grow alongside dahlias, yuccas, cacti, roses, and the aptly named birds of paradise. This marvellously colourful setting is a breath of fresh air and an ideal spot to sit back and relax. At the Rosewood Hotel, the 400-year-old city feels young and spry, and Friar Miguel can be proud of his heritage.

Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, Calle Nemesio Diez 11, Colonia Centro, San Miguel de Allende, GTO 37700 Mexico
+1 855 669 7774

From €500 to €1,000 per night depending on what room or suite you are booking.


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