Nemesio Diez 11, Colonia Centro, San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
The third Rosewood hotel in Mexico--and the first located away from the coasts--simply had to at least attempt to be the best hotel in San Miguel from Day 1. In more ways than not they succeeded, in part by having far more land to work with than any other property, yet still being a short walk from the center.
The seed for San Miguel's newest and most impressive hotel came about when one of the city's oldest and largest hotels declined and then went bankrupt. The neglected buildings weren't worth saving, so after getting the proper permissions, the new developers razed what was there and started with a blank slate. The result was around 14 acres of real estate that other central San Miguel de Allende hotels can only dream about. This led to a huge outdoor pool complex, a spacious gym, a full spa, a massive lobby, and large rooms with new plumbing and state-of-the-art electrical systems.
Apart from the immature landscaping though, it's hard to tell this new hotel hasn't been here all along. It was constructed in the style of historic grand colonial administrative buildings that grace the main plazas across Mexico, with wide stone staircases, arches, covered breezeways, and fountains in open courtyards. Public spaces and rooms are filled with new furniture, but most of it gives a nod to colonial designs and everywhere there are reminders of where you've landed: locally made light fixtures, pottery, and artwork abound. The mirrors have even been made to look antique and the type of stone used in the contruction will get darker over time.
The architectural effect of Rosewood San Miguel is unusual here: one of space, of openness, light, and breeze. The restaurant and bar both take advantage of the pleasant climate in San Miguel de Allende by devoting almost as much space to outdoor dining and drinking as they do to the inside. Then on the roof is the favored hang-out spot at sunset and into the night: Luna Bar. This romantic spot looks over the rooftops to hfhf church, the inconic centerpiece of the city. Here bartenders whip up margarita samplers served in hand-blown Mexican glasses arranged in a rack and offer a local microbrew on tap--a real treat anywhere in this country. Mouth-watering snacks and small plates offer a twist on Mexican standards and seafood flown from the coast makes its way into ceviche and other dishes.
The main restaurant, 1826, is named after the year when the city's name changed to add "de Allende," honoring one of the main heros of the Mexican independence fight against Spain. It's a dramatic space, anchored by a huge light fixture made up of the punched tin lights sold in local markets and craft shops strung together, all styles blending into one impressive glowing bronze whole hung from a rack and projecting designs onto the ceiling. The open kitchen adds to the flair and in a welcome change from most hotel restaurants, there is a food bar set-up where single diners can sit and watch the chefs in action. The cuisine gets progressively fancier at each meal, starting with tried-and-true breakfast items (including well-prepared Mexican specialties). Lunch gets more imaginative and even the soup and hamburger plates arrive looking like a work of art. At dinner the chef goes all out, dazzling diners with high Mexican cuisine and a few international fusion dishes that are some of the most interesting and tasty in town. A somelier is on hand to help with a wine list that stretches to 1,000 bottles, most of them stored in a cellar that can host tasting dinners.
The bar across the hall is a comfortable lounge, though it's hard to stop watching the giant flat TV screen that is always on so you can concentrate on your companions. Otherwise it's a sedate, clubby space, the commanding bar set up with some 180 brands of 100 percent blue agave tequilas. A certified tequila master hosts regular tastings.
Compared to any other swimming pool in town, just the main olympic-length one here is superior. Flanked by lounge chairs and complimentary cabana spaces, it's just the start, however. The terraced complex includes two more heated smaller pools, a huge kiddie pool by a Rosebuds kid's club, and a whirlpool. You don't have to call room service to get a drink or a snack either: a dedicated snack bar is open all day and a wait staff circles to take orders.
The gym is similarly outsized compared to any other in town, with a dozen aerobic machines and as many weight machines. A studio space has scheduled yoga, Pilates, and exercise classes with an instructor. The Sense spa is easily the best in town, with only the one at Hotel Matilda coming anywhere close. Everything is first class, from the greeters to the bathroom attendants to the masseuses and beauticians using Sense products. With spa showers, saunas, steam rooms, and a large relaxation area, this spa is more on par with a beach resort one than one in a city hotel.
Despite the large footprint of the property (part of it taken up by villas for sale), there are only 67 guest rooms. They go into 11 different categories, however, ranging from attractive standard rooms loaded with amenities ("Colonial") to huge suites with private roof terraces big enough for a party. Most of the differences are in size and view. All are of ample size, with hardwood floors, furnished terraces or balconies good lighting, and pillow-top mattresses dressed with fine Rivolta Carmignani linens. Huge sliding wood doors open to baths with soaking tubs, spacious separate showers, and WCs behind a door. Most of the furniture, doors, and fixtures were custom made for the hotel and are of impeccable quality. A separate desk area has easy-to-reach outlets, flat-screen TVs are mounted on the wall. DVD players and movies are available by request in suites that don't have them already and the clock radios have iPod connections. Wi-Fi is complimentary everywhere and works well throughout the property.
Nightly turndown service follows fruit plates upon arrival and room service runs 24 hours. Many rooms come with a gas fireplace.
Each level of suite adds more space for lounging, with the two top suites coming with a kitchen, dining room, roof terrace, and a whirlpool tub with a view. Nothing else in the city compares--apart from private villa rentals without hotel facilities.
With so much room to work with, meeting and function space are both abundant and the roof terrace alone is big enough to host destination weddings. The ballroom can host banquets for 250 and a small amphitheater brings in local musicians for intimate concerts. An art gallery in the stone-arched basement next to the wine cellar is a nice touch and can serve as a cocktail party space.
Those looking for a true colonial feel with history may prefer the grande dame Sierra Nevada from Orient-Express and those at the other end of the spectrum may be happier at the ultra-hip (and almostt as new) Hotel Matilda. For Rosewood fans and those willing to pay a premium for the newest and the best, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende is in a class all its own in not just San Miguel de Allende, but all of central Mexico outside the capital.
Web Address: RosewoodSanMiguel.com
Total Number of Rooms: 67
Published rates: $325 to $1,750
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.
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