Ibarra # 15 Col. Centro, Pátzcuaro, Michoacán. México
Occupying a 17th–century mansion near the main plaza, the best luxury hotel in Patzcuaro heads into its second decade as the clear top choice in this magical town of artisans.
Once upon a time, an American woman from California sat on a bench in the Plaza Grande and wrote a goal in a notebook. "Some day," she decided, "I am going to own a historic hotel and restaurant here in Patzcuaro."
Eventually, she bought this 17th–century mansion, a house that was once owned by Antonio Ibarra — the street out front bears his name — then changed hands in the 1800s and remained a private home until its conversion into a hotel from 1999 to 2001. The labor of love restoration resulted in a colonial hotel that has been recognized by the IENA historical registry, but one that delights upscale travelers from around the world.
Just a block from the beautiful main plaza, Mansion de los Suenos is a typical colonial mansion in the sense that you could walk right past it without noticing it's there. Once you are inside, however, you come into an inviting garden space with outdoor seating and original columns, surrounded by an iron railing from France that was installed during the brief French colonial period in Mexico's history. A commissioned mural graces one wall. Since the climate seldom gets very hot here, most guests have their breakfast here in the open air.
Perched above the main courtyard, facing the street, is the formal international restaurant, Priscilla's, which continually wins kudos as one of the best in the city. It is housed in the main salon room of the home and has its original wood doors and ceiling beams. With a fireplace on one end and chandeliers overhead, it's a romantic spot for dinner or cocktails. (And when itApos;s time to check your make–up, there's even a crystal chandelier in the women's bathroom.)
Befitting a colonial mansion hotel, all rooms at Mansion de los Suenos are different. Each employs a different mix of color schemes, themes, and furniture. The owner has been dedicated to utilizing the craftsmanship this region is known for and some pieces are simply astounding—like hand–carved beds that took someone a whole year to complete. Most rooms have a fireplace and except for one with twin beds generally used for children or a nanny and a child, they are romantic quarters with big, comfortable beds. Baths vary in size and layout, but all have a deep combo tub and Mexican tile vanities.
Rooms have a strong sense of place, with beamed ceilings, arches, heavy wood doors with iron latches, and custom murals on the walls or fireplaces. Sofas and chairs are billowing with throw pillows and beds have strong reading lights. Most luxury hotel amenities you would expect are in place here, including fine linens, minibars, satellite TVs, complimentary Wi–Fi, coffee makers, and a good range of toiletries. His and hers robes in different colors are a nice touch.
The master suites feature double the space, a full living room with a sofa bed, and larger baths. #6 opens to a small furnished terrace and #5 has a double vanity.
The main downside, which is typical of colonial hotels arranged around courtyards, is that the only sources of natural light are the doorways and windows that open to public spaces. Thankfully there are few lines of sight from other rooms and the interior lighting is ample enough to avoid any gloominess.
Feeling stressed? Rates here, which can be even better in off-peak times with package deals, include a welcome drink upon arrival, a 15–minute head and neck massage, and full breakfast.
In a magical city of atmospheric inns filled with local crafts, Mansion de los Suenos stands above the others in nearly every respect. Mexican millionaires mix with savvy upscale international travelers throughout the year. With excellent food, a bilingual staff, and attention to every detail, this is the clear top choice in Patzcuaro.