Miramar 336, Col. Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
The Vallarta lifestyle may seem more all-inclusive than stone archway, more high-rise than haloed angels. Tucked into the heart of downtown, however, is a colonial gem you might be less surprised to find in San Miguel de Allende than in this tropical paradise.
A sparkling fountain at its center, the Hacienda San Angel is a complex of four different homes renovated to exude colonial decadence and romance. Public spaces are lush with tropical vegetation and religious art—stone statues of saints, a wooden archangel ready to defend against the devil, wall niches with antique crosses. The furniture is also rich in texture and detail—armoires, rolltop desks, candleabras—what might feel a bit to hefty for someone looking for the light touch of a beachside bungalow.
The house is famous as part of the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor legacy in Puerto Vallarta, Burton bought this house—just around the corner from his former home with Taylor—for his third wife, supermodel Susan Hunt. Burton married Hunt less than a year after his second divorce from Elizabeth Taylor. Why so close to his ex-wife? Juanita, the hotel's manager tells me that this was simply the best place in Puerto Vallarta to own a home at the time because of the stunning views of the Bay below.
If you're looking for romance on your Mexican vacation, you can't go wrong with Hacienda San Angel. In particular the Celeste room with its feathery linens draping a four-poster bed and a breeze on every side of you. There's even a private, palapa-covered porch if you need that beachy feel. The room used to be Burton's when he lived in the original villa.
The hotel is home to 20 rooms, divided up among the four conjoining buildings that circle the central patio. Each former house has its only small pool (for lounging, not big enough to swim laps) and the restaurant at the end of the property looks out over the Banderas Bay and up the mountainside at the same time. On the first floor there is an expansive lobby-lounge with comfortable couches, reading material, and art in every corner. Antique furniture abounds and the smells of the kitchen waft across the courtyard.
Rooms with a view are definitely what you want to go for if you have a choice, while the other rooms are cozy and luxuriously furnished. Many on the first floor have that dark and deep colonial feel that while cozy, doesn't create much of a beach ambiance. Each room comes with mini-fridges for storing cold beers for the end of the day, lock boxes, TVs with satellite and Netflix, Bvlgari products in the bathrooms, high-thread count linens and plenty of fluffy white towels. There is also free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, remote-controlled air conditioning and ceiling fans, free international calling from room phones, and ice-cold purified water on stand-by.
Unless you need access to your own private beach (which many properties in the hotel zone offer) this hotel's location has those all-inclusives beat. It’s right in the heart of town, close to all the restaurants and attractions of downtown Vallarta with enough residentialness to provide silence and a certain neighborhood friendliness. The only drawback for the out-of-shape or physically challenged is that the quickest way in and out of town is ascending and descending a few dozen stone steps. On the other hand, the stairs, like many of the back alleyways of Vallarta, give the feel of discovering a secret passageway.
On all sides of the hotel are great views of the ocean, the mountains, the rust-colored clay-tiled roofs of downtown and the stunningly crowned Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The hotel is often host to weddings and other special events and has its own private wedding chapel called Puerta del Cielo (“The door to heaven”), with a view of the church.
The hotel staff is small and therefore provides extremely personalized service on all levels. They will most definitely call you by name throughout your stay. At check-in you will be provided lots of information about the hotel (including its history and explanation of various art pieces), along with a long list of information about Puerta Vallarta, what to do and how to do it. The hotel can arrange any kind of tour or excursion that you are looking to experience and several turquoise-water beaches await you only minutes by taxi.
For a more romantic and colonial vibe to your stay in Puerto Vallarta, Hacienda San Angel provides luxury, excellent personal service, and enchanting views of Puerto Vallarta. San Angel, along with its sister property Casa Kimberly, are two of the town's best boutique hotels in Puerta Vallarta's downtown.
Web Address: www.haciendasanangel.com
Total Number of Rooms: 20
Published rates: $250- 825 BB.
Review and photos by Tim Leffel.