Morelos Sur 39, Morelia, Michoacán
An eclectic colonial gem right across from the city's grand cathedral, Los Juaninos offers a sense of place and magical views in a prime location.
If you've seen a stunning magazine photo of Morelia's cathedral at night, chances are it was taken from a guest room or the restaurant at Los Juaninos. On a prime spot of real estate across the street from an open plaza, it faces one of the most striking churches in central Mexico—and that's saying a lot. At night when the edifice is lit from all angles, it's hard to imagine a better restaurant view.
The hotel was originally built as a grand bishop's house and after several uses was converted to a hotel in 1998. It follows a standard colonial boutique hotel blueprint to a point: grand hallways, high beamed ceilings, and heavy original wood doors are all in place. A few things feel a bit off from the get-go though, especially the boxy glass elevator that dominates the lobby. Looking down through glass from the second floor, you realize that apart from that small lobby, the hotel is situated over a bank.
Avert your eyes from these two elements, however, and you'll find plenty of interesting details more in line with the architecture. Then head to the top floor for those stunning views from the rooftop restaurant and bar. The colonial touches fall away completely here, with the sleek bar containing modern furniture and an airy style befitting its mostly open–air configuration. The decision to stick with the modern age on the roof apparently works: on weekends the bar is a favored spot with local upscale 20– and 30–somethings showing off their new outfits and jewelry.
In a city known for its cuisine, food in the La Azotea restaurant doesn't quite live up to the vistas, but it's popular with a wide range of diners—from three–generation families celebrating a birthday to hotel guests cozying up in a booth, camera in hand.
Of course you could experience all that while staying elsewhere, so the main reason to book here is the evocative rooms. They have 20–foot ceilings, brick and stone arches, and antique wood doors with period latches. Large desks, wardrobes, and headboards of solid wood complete the feel of integrity. Stucco–textured walls are adorned with oil paintings. Number 106 is the most popular, but all the rooms on the side across from the plaza have a great view.
Rooms have air conditioning, which isn't needed often in this temperate highland climate, and a powerful ceiling fan. Duvets, quality cotton sheets, and abundant soft pillows ensure a good night's sleep. Two layers of shutters—one with windows, one solid—also make the rooms surprisingly quiet. Even those facing the street don't get noisy. Baths have oval–shaped combo tubs and good toiletries. Robes, slippers, minibars, and turndown service with local sweets keep this hotel above most of the competition in the service department. During my visit the front desk staffers were bilingual, which is never a given in cities like this that don't get many foreign tourists.
There is not a whole lot of diversion in this boutique hotel: no room for a pool, spa, or fitness center. For those who like to spend their vacation strolling the city center, however, seeing the sights and sampling Morelia's food and sweets, this is a great spot in the heart of a fantastic city.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott