Positos 33, Zona Centro, Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
Repurposed from a 19th century rectory home, this impressive renovation with an eye on preserving the past is a gorgeous addition to central Guanajuato in Mexico's heartland.
For quite a few years there were no upscale hotels in Guanajuato directly in the historic center. Now Casa del Rector is the latest addition to a growing scene. Located near the former home of Diego Rivera (now a museum) and a few blocks from the university in one direction and the Alondiga museum in the other, it's walking distance to all the historic attractions.
The Mexico City owners clearly invested heavily and chose their architecture team carefully: the restoration work is thoughtful and the new additions only go completely modern when necessary. In that category would fall the glass elevator transporting guests up to their room in the back building, as well as the infinity pool with a city view installed on the roof. Where possible the design team worked around the good bones rather than breaking them and where they renovated they kept the original spirit of the architecture in place.
The unassuming entrance is easy to miss as you stroll down the hill on a narrow sidewalk from the University of Guanajuato and the triangular shady park in the center. Once inside there's a check-in lobby that's small in square footage but makes up for it with very high ceilings.
Doorways lead to a restaurant and lounge split into several sections, ranging from formal colonial in the dinner restaurant to bright artistic in Cafe 33 for breakfast and lunch. If they can keep up a consistency of service and fine food here, Las Vieyras Restaurant will easily rank as one of the best dining options in the city. They had yet to really get the word out though when we visited five months after opening, so time will tell. Nearly everything on offer here is a step up from the norm, however, from local craft beer to well-executed pastries to fresh-roasted coffee.
Upstairs there's another dining room that's suited for meetings or privage dinners, while the courtyard between buildings has an inviting open-air bar area that's used all year in Guanajuato's "eternal spring" climate.
Yet another bar area is at the top of the back building, with a stupendous view of the city that's magical at night. The architect kept the boulder protruding into the bar area from the hill behind and a local artist used it as a canvas for a Frida and Diego mural.
Adjacent to the rooftop bar and lounge is the heated infinity pool, which is hands down the best pool with a view in the city. While it's not large enough for laps, it really makes you feel like you're in Guanajuato and part of the lounging area is protected from the sun. (A wise move in this city situated at more than 2,000 meters (6.500 feet) of altitude. At night the pool glows while the city lights gleam.
Guest rooms range from a rather standard double suite category containing two queen beds to a sprawling Presidential Suite. In between are junior suites and master suites going up in size and the amount of furniture. All of the rooms are a bit different, though they retain an overall aesthetic of mixing historic elements (reproduction furniture, beamed ceilings) with tasteful contemporary touches that brighten things up. A room may have a handmade wood desk, hardwood floors, and an oil painting, but then have a modern floor lamp and bright blue or red accent wall. The designer had a good eye, however, and the elements work well together. Comfortable beds have padded headboards and most rooms have some kind of sitting area. The master suites are worth the upgrade, however, and the sprawling Presidential Suite has the best view of the city through two window walls and a balcony.
The baths are thoroughly modern, containing quality fixtures and an array of good toiletries. Each room has a cable TV, minibar, coffee maker, and complimentary Wi-Fi. If you drive here you can take advantage of free valet parking. You won't find any sofa beds or rollaways though: this property is for adults only.
A few staffers speak English well—never a given in this city dominated by domestic tourists—but enough to get you what you need. Unfortunately the website is only in Spanish at this time.
Until this opening in November of 2016, Hotel 1850 was the only full-service luxury hotel in the historic center. So Hotel del Rector is a welcome addition for those who like to explore this pedestrian-friendly city on foot without depending on taxis. When you want to stay put, there are plenty of choices on where to lounge.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.