Calle Ramón Corona 86, Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico
For the first time, the heart of tequila country in Jalisco has a hotel good enough to make travelers want to savor the town and not just its best spirits.
Most foreign tourists are dumbfounded when you tell them that a Mexican town exists called Tequila. Who knew that the distilled spirit was also a place on the map?
Well, not only is Tequila the town a quaint colonial gem that has had new life breathed into by the Jose Cuervo company and their headquarters there, but it is also home to Solar de las Animas, a top–notch luxury hotel that is part of the Cuervo dynasty.
Solar de las Animas greets you with a colonial charm and age–old hospitality. The hotel sits on the 1758 tequila distiller's former loading and unloading zone, known as “las animas.”
Solar's restaurant, La Antigua Casona, is open to the public and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu consists of classic regional delights like birria, tortas ahogadas and carne en su jugo as well as the chef's modern Mexican interpretations of local ingredients and seasonal produce for the 4-course chef's menu. Don't you dare miss the requesón flan; the region is known for its excellent dairy products.
One of the most decadent places for lounging is the bar Chucho Reyes, named for the Jalisco native son painter Jesus Reyes Ferreira, whose paintings cover its walls. With a handful of tiny tables each with leather and wood chairs and a few couches to lounge in on the central patio that it borders, the bar is a great place to relax after a hard day of tequila tasting and ambling through the miniature main plaza of the town of Tequila.
While its rooms vary little in style and size, each is classically decorated in period-appriopriate art and furniture – dark wood accents, ornately carved writing desks and headboards, and tiled mosaics. The heavy stateliness of the décor is balanced by white backgrounds, tall balcony windows that allow for lots of sunshine, and a light touch on wall decorations. The Superior Doubles and Superior King rooms are basically the same, with either two queens or a single King size bed in them, which does affect how spacious the room feels. The Master King suite is only slightly larger than a Superior, but has a bathtub.
The Luxury category is the same size as a Superior but with a tiny balcony and a bathtub as well (the only option in the Luxury category is two Queen beds). The Suite Real is the only drastic upgrade in room size as it adjoins two Master King rooms with its own kitchen, living room, and optional personalized butler service.
Rainforest showerheads, L'octianne bath products, and high quality linens make your stay just a little bit sweeter and in your room you will find a selection of Cuervo tequilas in case you simply can't get enough (unfortunately everything available in the mini bar including snacks and sodas comes at a charge). The 4th floor sky bar is a nice stop for a cocktail or dip in the whirlpool that looks out over the mountains surrounding Tequila, but is liveliest on the weekends when more tourists are in town.
On the same level, nay, right next to the bar, is the glass-enclosed gym, with a handful of machines and weights. Although the view is great, the location is odd, especially if you want to work out any time after happy hour. Downstairs there is a small outdoor pool surrounded by high walls giving you the greatest sense of privacy but only a window of full sun.
No one stays at Solar without experiencing at least a few of the activities that can be arranged for guests on–site or nearby. Lots of folks come out on the Cuervo tequila train from Guadalajara, spending the day luxuriously touring the countryside while taking advantage of the open tequila bar. The day trip includes a tour of La Rojeña, the oldest distiller in the country, and a chance to see rodeo performers and escaramuzas—beautifully adorned women that preform complicated horseback riding routines. There are also visits to out to the countryside to see the stunning blue agave fields or the nearby archaeological site Guachimonteones.
Outside of excursions, the hotel offers a quiet retreat settled in an even quieter setting, with only about 42,000 people, the biggest excitements in Tequila are the national holidays that ignite the town with fireworks and parties. At the daily blessing at 9pm, townsfolk stop whatever they are doing at the sound of three church bells and cross themselves.
The staff of Solar will go out of their way to help you if you ask, providing information, delivering extra water, and arranging visits and pick–ups.
In the next several years, the Cuervo company plans to expand their spaces in Tequila to include to two more luxury hotels and a cultural center that will feature local artists. They already have a sweeping hacienda that can be rented for weddings or other functions and their master tequila mixing facilities where guests can bring home their very own blend of Mexico's most famous spirit.
Solar de las Animas was made for tequila lovers looking for a slow–paced stay in a beautiful small town. It's a place where guests come to relax and learn about one of the country's oldest industries. If you come during the week, you will have the place even more to yourselves. A visit to nearby Guadalajara, while still a city flying under the radar for many international tourists, is an excellent pairing for a Tequila experience at Solar de las Animas.
Web Address: http://www.hotelsolardelasanimas.com/hotel-tequila
Total Number of Rooms: 93
Published rates: $250-300
Review and photos by Lydia Carey.