San Miguel De Allende is a vividly coloured historic town that sits approximately 270 km north of Mexico City, and has been made famous at various points throughout the last centuries for events such as being the birthplace of Ignacio Allende, a freedom fighter and national hero of the Mexican people, and by virtue of the fact that in 1810 the municipality of San Miguel was the first to be freed from Spanish rule by the Mexican army. San Miguel is steeped not only in history but also in creativity, and has been a hub for artists throughout the last eight decades. We were venturing there to experience the whole spectrum of sensations that such a site offers, and to admire the town’s UNESCO world listed heritage architecture.
Our vehicle headed out at dawn, as the sun rose over the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt, a mountainous strata of land that sweeps east to west, featuring various snow-dusted peaks. As the jeep drew closer to San Miguel, a gap in the mountains revealed a cluster of hot air balloons floating peacefully eastwards. For those with an appetite for adventure travel, Mexico is a land of plenty.
We rumbled off the main freeway and trundled into the steep winding cobbled streets of the main city, at which point the atmosphere changed almost instantly. High walls painted in shades of ochre and umbre create a maze framed all around by views out over surrounding hills and mountains. Bougainvillea and Wisteria grow bountifully in trellises and along the tops of walls, while the usual suspects aloe, cacti and various ornamental succulents pop up in terracotta pots that dot the door frames and flagstones about the town. It has distinct old world charm and a relaxed pace that feels at once homely.
Our lodging, the Rosewood hotel, is a veritable palace that I was awestruck to learn has only been built, from scratch, in the last three years. Observing the fabric, and the style in which it has been constructed, you might justly suppose the building has been stood here for decades if not centuries. Stone has been quarried and timber felled locally. Fittings, fixtures and furniture are also from local craftsman and designers. This ethos of contextual and cultural awareness and empathy encapsulates the Rosewood mission: they set out to create hotels that are as much a part of the community and culture, as they are part of a global luxury group. To my mind they achieve it with flying colours. The art work that adorns the walls and the sculptures that line the corridors and atriums, are works by local artists, most of which are available to purchase. Cuisine is largely regional, and produce is sourced locally and grown in the surrounding countryside, which along with the highly tasteful decor and grand interior and exterior design, makes Rosewood San Miguel De Allende a unique offering. If what you want from a luxury hotel is a sense of place that is not far removed from the actual culture and fabric of the destination you’ve travelled to see, then Rosewood offers this in abundance.
Venturing out into town, we took our time to soak up the creative vibes in the art studios at a former textile factory Fabrica La Aurora, took a tram ride up to the vantage point at the pinnacle of the town to marvel at the vista, browsed a food market in the town square, then returned to the hotel where I managed a few lengths in their luxurious pool before donning finery to repair to the rooftop bar, boasting magnificent views across the city and directly across to La Parroquia, the ornate Gothic church for which the city is justly famous. A balmy breeze whipped up, sundowner cocktails glided down a treat and I felt immensely privileged to be in that place at that moment. High mountains behind the hotel which had been shrouded in darkness, slowly came to life as a towering silhouette, revealing the bright white moon that rose slowly and proudly over the crest. At the very peak, small date palms wavered, Jackals scratched in the dust whilst around us, camera shutters popped in unison as folk quietly delighted at the scenery. All in all the day had ended on a truly magical note.
Philip flew to Mexico City from London Heathrow with Aeromexico on a 787 Dreamliner. From Mexico City, Aeromexico operates interconnecting flights to 47 destinations within Mexico.