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Casa Linda–San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Mesones 101, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato State, Mexico

Occupying a position between intimate Dos Casas and sprawling Casa de Sierra Nevada, Casa Linda is a whimsical medium–sized hotel (by San Miguel standards) that offers a luxury experience without any stuffiness.

Casa Linda is the result of a Texan transplant's dream to transform a 16th century mansion and accompanying buildings into a small luxury hotel that wouldn't take itself too seriously. With spacious rooms––all different––and a personality that's far from sedate, it's an excellent choice for upscale lodging with a twist right in the thick of things.

A series of five courtyards and gardens make up the center of the property, with rooms on two levels around the perimeter. By the small reception desk is the hip Nirvana restaurant, with minimalist indoor/outdoor furniture and a well–stocked bar. Skylit during the day, it turns into a dramatic space at night and serves up fusion food created by a chef who got his master's in culinary arts in New York.

If walking the streets of San Miguel de Allende at 6,800 feet isn't enough exercise, you can work out in one of the best–equipped hotel gyms in town or swim in the lap pool equipped with resistance jets. A custom mosaic–tiled hot tub tucked away in a corner of the main courtyard is built for a crowd, holding up to 12 people. Surrounded by plants and murals of plants, it's a good accompaniment to the jungle lounge––a fun space with a fireplace housed in a leopard's mouth and animal skin stools that look like large bongo drums.

Each room here has a different theme. The Angeles Suite features a carved headboard filled with angels, angel tiles in the bath, and a few colonial era religious sculptures. Las Rosas Suite gets the carved roses treatment and a bright red whirlpool tub in the bath. The Gardenias Suite follows the vines and flowers motif, with two terraces to take in the real versions climbing the walls. That one has a full kitchen and all come equipped with gas fireplaces, satellite TVs with DVD players, minibars, coffee makers, and plenty of substantial, comfortable furniture. Very Mexican tile baths are stocked with an ample selection of Lord & Mayfair toiletries.

The suites here are all large, but the Maya Suite is as big as an apartment, with a kitchen, dining table for six, a full sofa, and two queen beds with iron headboards. Two separate blue tile baths each have their own whirlpool tub and a walk–in closet will house the belongings of even the heaviest packers. As with the other rooms, colorful bedspreads, embroidered pillows, and local artwork remind you that you are not in Kansas anymore. The Fiesta Penthouse is no humdrum affair either: it is decorated with hanging piñatas has party dinner dining for eight, and two terraces for sundowners.

Room service runs from morning until 11:00 p.m. (from a neighboring restaurant), there's an in–house water purification system, and valet parking is a nice touch for those arriving by car. If you prize originality, whimsy, and communal gathering space, Casa Linda is a standout.

Web Address:
Total Number of Rooms: 10
Published rates: $275 to $370

Review and photos by Timothy Scott.

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