Av.Ignacio Rayón 434, Colonial Centro, Zacatecas
The world’s only hotel situated around a historic bullfighting ring, this intimate showpiece of the Quinta Real chain offers a unique experience near the UNESCO-recognized historic center of Zacatecas.
Where else can you dine overlooking a 19th century bullring, then have a drink among the stone arches of the ground level, next to where the bulls used to charge forth into the ring?
The Quinta Real chain is Mexico’s top home-grown luxury hotel group, with only eight hotels in business centers, Acapulco, and Huatulco. Each hotel follows a very similar room plan, but employs a different design for the public areas. In this case the public areas are the main attraction and naturally this dramatic setting in Zacatecas attracts plenty of domestic weddings and executive retreats. Hallways lined with historic photos of the area go in a circle around the bullfighting ring, with a three-level restaurant and a dramatic wood–beamed lobby commanding great views of the structure.
Note, however, that only the Presidential Suite actually has a view of the bullring. The other 48 suites are in a separate building that was once a boarding house. Rooms are sumptuous and spacious, however, with the main difference between the classes being space, an extra chair or two, and a bigger bath. The 36 Master Suites are the lowest level, but come with flat–screen TVs, iPod docks, tiny safes, minibars, robes, slippers, and a shoeshine machine. The furnishings are similar to other rooms in the chains, with scalloped arches, oil paintings, fake fireplaces, and lots of regal fabrics. All rooms have some kind of sitting area and the chain’s superlative array of excellent toiletries, but closets are limited to wardrobes. Internet access requires a hefty extra fee in the rooms, but Wi–Fi is gratis in the lobby.
The Grand Class Double rooms add a whirlpool tub, while the Grand Class King suites have a separate living room separated by columns and a separate bath. The Presidential Suite here lists for under a grand, making it a relative bargain compared to similar digs in other countries or even on Mexico’s coasts. It is situated on two stories, with 11 windows, a furnished terrace, and two balconies—all looking down on the bullring and with views of a historic aqueduct and the city. Two full bedroom suites are on the send level, while the lower level has a living room, dining area, Jacuzzi tub, and half bath.
One restaurant serves all meals and is designed to give every diner a view. Tables are situated on three levels, similar to luxury boxes at today’s sports arenas. The prime seats are on a few outdoor terraces with unobstructed views, but there’s not a bad spot anywhere and attentive waiters bound up and down the steps bearing attractive platters of local specialties and international dishes. High beamed ceilings, a large chandelier, pottery in alcoves, and large paintings create interest inside as well.
The Botarel Bar is set up where the matadors and bulls entered the building and you can still see the original massive wood doors, wax from the big candles that used to light the space, and the original stone work. A small outdoor area serves as a cigar bar. Naturally there is an excellent tequila selection, but a good wine list as well. A staffed business center and an upscale silver and jewelry shop are on site.
While the hotel is not right in the center, it is next to a leafy park and is only about a 10–minute stroll to the main plaza. While service is friendly and professional, English is not a strong point here. Zacatecas has plenty of great attractions for tourists, but most visitors are domestic. If you are not conversant in Spanish, search out the person with the best language skills (probably the concierge) upon arrival.
Web Site: QuintaReal.com - Zacatecas
Total Number of Rooms: 48
Published rates: $153 to $1,000
Review and photos by Timothy Scott