Patzimba 201, Colonia Vista Bella, Morelia, Michoacán
Believe what you hear about Villa Montaña (and you will hear good things): it’s all true. From exquisite regional cuisine to genuinely friendly staff, this hillside retreat embodies the charm of highland Mexico.
Perched above the colonial city of Morelia, capital of Michoacán and an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Villa Montaña is a lush, Mediterranean-style labyrinth of 36 secluded “cabañitas,” many of them secreted away behind archways draped with bougainvillea and shaded by lavender jacarandas. Mind you, the diminutive term cabañitas is an understatement: picture instead massive carved wood doors, stonework walls impressively decked with regional antiques and art, high ceilings run with vigas, great fireplaces, private terraces, and windows large enough to do justice to sweeping views of Morelia.
More specifically, Villa Montaña’s assortment of rooms ranges from spacious standards to junior and master suites (two of the latter have an additional bedroom, making them ideal for families traveling with children) and culminates in the grand presidential suite with its commanding views and secluded terrace. Every room has a fireplace; some of the suites have two. Note that standard rooms have garden views only, and if you are booking a suite and prefer a city view, be sure to say so when you reserve.
Overall, the Villa Montaña is a place in balance with itself. In individual rooms and across the grounds, obvious attention has been paid to natural light and shade, warmth and cool, exterior and interior spaces, as well as old (antique tapestries) and new (immaculate linens and snappy Wi–Fi). At the same time, Villa Montaña does not have the sanitized feel of sleeker establishments. Compliments of the thick stonework and verdant gardens, and perhaps embellished by the presence of legitimate antiques, there is a slight, although not unpleasant, churchlike dankness to some of the rooms. The effect is that you feel a bit like a guest in an elegant old home, and indeed, the resident owners are themselves members of the French aristocracy.
In Morelia, Villa Montaña’s kitchen enjoys some celebrity (bolstered by the annual feria de comida michoacana hosted by the hotel) for its creative renditions of regional dishes. Its wide–ranging menu includes local delicacies such as creamy corn soup with huitlacoche (a rich, musky mushroom grown on corn) and ethnic fusions such as raviolis made with squash blossoms, Oaxacan cheese, and epazote oil (derived from an Aztecan herb). Even the Villa Montaña’s new spa serves up regional selections, including a chocolate body treatment. Don’t be too generous with the tips though: a 7.5% service charge will be tacked onto your bill when you check out.
Other on–site amenities that make this inn a satisfying reprieve from reality include tennis court and swimming pool, steam rooms and saunas, massage and other spa services, and even a mineral flotation tank for more intensive stress–relief — assuming you are not claustrophobic.
Whether your travels bring you to Morelia to observe the region’s colorful, if macabre, Day of the Dead celebrations, or to tour the nearby artisanal and Purépecha villages, or to witness the magic of Michoacán’s wintering monarch butterfly colonies (two hours away, November–March(, Villa Montaña makes an excellent base. This is particularly true if you prefer a little tranquility at the end of your day, or if you travel to escape rather than be in thick of things. While Morelia boasts a few good high–end hotels around the Plaza de Armas in the city center, Villa Montaña is a ten–minute taxi ride and many decibels removed from Morelia’s bustling historic center.
Put another way, if you don’t feel compelled to stand directly beneath the fireworks display that Morelia launches over the cathedral every Saturday night, the shimmering spectacle is at least as pleasant (and the acoustics far gentler) when accompanied by cocktails and live piano music at Villa Montaña’s terrace bar.
Web Address: www.villamontana.com.mx
Total Number of Rooms: 36
Published rates: $210 - $490 (+ 25% taxes and service charge)
Review and photos by Molly Beer