Lopez Cotilla 1739, Co. Lafayette, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
As the local hotel with the strongest dose of character, this fine boutique hotel makes up for its small size with attentive personal service and an intimate setting.
Located in the area of Guadalajara that has many of the city's best restaurants and nightlife, Villa Ganz is the top choice for guests in the know. It attracts a wide range of guests drawn to its personalized feel, which stands in stark contrast to the large business hotels that dominate the choices in this city.
"We don't really have breakfast hours," the front desk clerk at Villa Ganz tells me. "When you wake up, when you're hungry, you just tell us what you want. Seven in the morning? Noon? It's okay with us."
That personifies the attitude at this beautifully designed hotel in Mexico's second–largest city. That breakfast can be in a breakfast nook, on a terrace, or next to flowering bushes in the garden. Place settings are next to some continental breakfast items in indoor and outdoor locations, but there's a feeling that they'll probably let you sit on the front steps eating a muffin if you really want to— and they'll come refill your coffee with grace.
The ten suites of Villa Ganz are in a grand 1930s home lovingly decorated with antiques and quality crafts from around the region. The first impression at Villa Ganz has improved greatly, with the old steel gate replaced by a brick and black wrought iron one. It's just as secure, with guests buzzed into the entrance, but you can see the attractive entrance from outside. Stepping inside it's a welcoming atmosphere, checking in at an antique desk amidst candles, area pottery, and original paintings.
The comfortable lobby is in the original living room of the house and serves as the social center. Here guests can read from a large collection of books, play games, or put on a CD. A public laptop supplements the complimentary Wi–Fi access throughout the grounds. Tea, wine, and snacks are laid out each evening and a small two–table room works as an honor bar in the evening, a breakfast nook in the morning. French doors lead to a quiet garden space outside, where meals and drinks are offered when weather permits.
A covered outdoor terrace is the favorite location choice for meals or drinks, with its large rustic fireplace, equipales wood and leather chairs, votive candles hanging overhead, and oil lanterns providing a warm glow. With a bit of advance notice, a chef can whip up dinner of your choosing and they'll serve it at a spot of your choice on the premises, with a nice tablecloth and candles.
There are no recreational facilities on site, but you have access to a large gym nearby and the owners and staff know the city extremely well. They are happy to make helpful recommendations for sightseeing or adventure and to set you up at the best local restaurants.
The bright guest rooms are full of personality and each has a different character. All feature quality materials, good bedding, a smattering of regional antiques, and wood furniture. All have cable TV, mostly king beds, safes, and closets with quality wood hangers. Bath layouts vary from room to room, with the smallest being shower–only affairs. Decorated with colorful Mexican tiles, all contain hair dryers, robes, slippers, and upscale toiletries. Turndown service is a nice touch for a hotel this size.
The three Gran Master suites are worth the minimal upgrade cost. They provide more space in an additional room, plus a stereo and a selection of books. Reserve number 14 or 15 for French doors opening to a garden view. Room 13 has its own terrace. The next best choices are 11 and 12, also facing the garden. The other rooms are also attractive, but although the owners have done an amazing job of insulating the windows, light sleepers may notice some traffic noise.
Groups or guests who are looking for a long–term stay should visit the property's website below as they also run several upscale area rental apartments. If you want a full–service hotel, Villa Ganz can't compete with the better–equipped Quinta Real as the top hotel in Guadalajara, but this well–run inn is a favorite of discerning travelers looking for personality, attentive service, and historic charm.
Web Address: www.villaganz.com
Total Number of Rooms: 10
Published rates: $200 to $280 BB
Review and photos by Timothy Scott