Sazon is both a cooking school and a shop that sells homeware from local artisans. // © 2014 George Mucalov
“Your suite is just across the street,” we were told when checking in. Say what?
It turned out that Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada’s 37 rooms and suites are within a collection of Spanish colonial casonas (mansions), clustered together in the heart of UNESCO-listed San Miguel de Allende. We almost felt like established residents in this delightful Mexican colonial town, rather than guests staying in a hotel.
Built in traditional style between the 16th and 18th centuries, each casona is different in its design. Most, however, have outdoor courtyards with fountains, lush greenery and purple bougainvillea climbing up the stone walls.
Casa Palma, the historic casona where we stayed, also features a 60-foot swimming pool nestled in its courtyard, available to all guests.
Though the rooms and suites are individually decorated — no two are alike — all are irrefutably charming. Elements such as Talavera-tiled bathrooms, high wood-beamed ceilings, hand-woven textile rugs and stone, tile or hardwood floors wake up the unique interiors.
Most rooms feature quarrystone gas fireplaces, a welcome touch in winter months when night temperatures in San Miguel de Allende (higher than 6,000 feet above sea level) can dip into the 50s. Clients will appreciate LCD televisions, free Wi-Fi access and, in select rooms, Nespresso coffee makers and Bose iPod speakers as well.
Some of the newest and largest suites in Casa Palma even have their own outside plunge pool in a small walled garden courtyard. We loved relaxing in the privacy of our sunny courtyard after poking around the local art galleries and exploring its botanical cactus gardens.
There’s more: Our suite’s bathroom boasted a free-standing tub, in addition to an outdoor shower. Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada treats the bathroom like a mini-spa with its assortment of organic Mexican bath products on display.
Clients will enjoy the hotel’s cooking school, Sazon, located around the corner and near the rose-colored Church of San Francisco. First, guests will shop with Chef Emanuel Cervantes for nopales (cactus paddles), chilies, chorizo and other ingredients at the neighborhood market. Then, they will learn how to make regional Mexican specialties such as tortilla soup, chicken mole and margaritas from fresh-squeezed limes — before consuming it all, of course. The Boutique at Sazon also sells beautiful tin-glazed pottery, table linens and other culinary items.
To get to Andanza, the hotel’s restaurant, we had to cross a narrow cobblestone road (while watching out for slow-driving cars that grudgingly stop for pedestrians).
Under the restaurant’s soaring glass roof and surrounded by potted palms, we tried a salad with jicama and panela cheese, poblano soup and — for a taste of home — beef tenderloin.
Then, under the golden glow of San Miguel’s streetlights, we headed back “home” to our suite residence.