Nemesio Diez 10, Zona Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto, Mexico
Hotel Nena and its incredible open-air restaurant, Nextia, might be the best kept secret among San Miguel de Allende luxury boutique hotels.
San Miguel de Allende is more popular than ever, with visitors from all over the world making yearly pilgrimages to see its cobblestone streets and gorgeous architecture. If the weekend hustle and bustle gets you down, just step in the cool and quiet entryway of the Hotel Nena for a break.
This six-room luxury boutique hotel is housed in an ancient colonial mansion, with five of the six rooms tucked under the arched hallways of a large central patio, in true hacienda style. Looking out over the sweeping space, you can almost hear mariachis serenading lovers in the dark.
This main patio is popular for weddings, now almost every weekend in San Miguel during the high season. Perfect for a party, Nena also has a front patio complete with outdoor bar under the shade of a giant mezquite tree. An upstairs rooftop bar has a stunning sunset view of San Miguel's parroquia and the city's multi-colored rooftops.
Hotel Nena only has two room categories, with four junior suites and two master suites. Both room types are large and comfortable. A few have massive walk-in closets (another bonus for wedding parties) and one of the bottom-floor junior suites has a tiny back patio with a hammock (none of the other suites have outdoor space beyond the common patios).
Of the two masters, Armida has a shower/steamroom en suite, and Pilar has a full kitchen, it's similar to a small apartment. Each of the hotel's rooms was named in honor of one of the co-owners' wives or mothers and if you like the concept, there is a sister Hotel Nena in Queretaro, 45 minutes away.
I stayed in Maria and while it might not have been as grandiose in term of space, my window opened up onto the main courtyard to a breathtaking view of the parroquia. It felt little like being Juliet if I had to be honest. With this one you are set apart from the other rooms, if only by a little, and that extra bit of privacy was nice.
All rooms have a lockbox, TV, bathrobes and slippers, high-quality linens and pillows, free WiFi, and air conditioning if you want it, but no minibar. Bathrooms are basic but lovely, with Mexican tiles and regular showerheads, and some of the suites have tiled bathtubs.
The rooftop bar and swimming pool are both a guest and local hangout with San Miguel residents coming up to toast the sunset in a cozy setting. The pool is small but refreshing in the central desert heat and there are various clusters of tables and couches for gathering. A welcome cocktail awaits you there when you arrive to the hotel.
The whole experience is one of comfort and luxury, but perhaps the pièce de résistance of the entire stay is dinner. Named by Travel and Leisure Mexico readers as one of the best new restaurants when it opened, Nextia is currently run by chef Alonso Domínguez, a baby-faced genius in the kitchen. Chef Alonso's family has a history of restaurateuring and he himself studied molecular cooking—but these dishes are much more than just smoke and mirrors.
I was able to try the chef's tasting menu (the al a carte menu is also fantastic), which was an incredible tangle of flavors, textures, and tones. The baby corn with cilantro sprouts and onion ash melted in my mouth, the scallop ceviche with citrus-infused oil and serrano pepper was endlessly refreshing, and I am still dreaming about the porcini and shitake mushrooms in a carmelized foie gras with pea sprouts, watermelon radish and beet powder. Every dish was intentional yet flirtatious, always with a tiny surprise that you weren't expecting. I was pleasantly overwhelmed.
The chef sources from local organic producers as well as cultivating his own organic garden to supply his restaurant with local, seasonal ingredients. The fact that this restaurant isn't packed every night of the week baffles me. Strangely enough, breakfast the following morning was totally mediocre.
Hotel Nena, while not the opulent showcase of its neighbor Rosewood San Miguel, is an intimate and luxurious stay for someone looking for a sense of place and some phenomenal food. The hotel is often booked full and I was warned that guests usually can't request the exact room that they want...but it never hurts to ask.
Web Address: www.hotelnena.mx
Total Number of Rooms: 6
Published rates: Juniors $191 / $247, Masters $211 / $266 (weekday/weekend rates) including taxes and breakfast.
Review and photos by Lydia Carey.