View public sculptures at the Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres. // © 2017 Getty Images
Feature image (above): Guadalajara is famous for its historic cathedral. // © 2017 Getty Images
During a recent trip to Guadalajara, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, I spent most of my time in the city's upscale Colonia Lafayette neighborhood, where I was reminded of hip communities around the U.S., such as West Hollywood in Los Angeles and Greenwich Village in New York City. Not only is Guadalajara Mexico's second-largest city, but it's a university town, which is perhaps why it has an artsy edge. Here's why art lovers will find Guadalajara to be a fascinating destination.
The first thing that guests will see upon arrival to Magno Brasserie is the huge wall of ceramic bottles displayed in a decorative fashion. An award-winning restaurant located in Colonia Lafayette, Magno Brasserie specializes in Mexican cuisine that has been transformed by European influences. The kitchen is overseen by Australian chef Paul Bentley, who has honed his skills over the course of 20 years in kitchens in New York City and throughout Europe.
The menu includes Bentley's creative take on French and Italian dishes such as beef tartare, fresh pasta, goat-cheese ravioli and roast duck. And although Magno Brasserie is a restaurant famous for its foie gras, the staff makes a real effort to accommodate vegetarian diners. If your clients enjoy seeing a restaurant kitchen in action, suggest they reserve one of the tables with a clear view of the open kitchen, where they may catch a glimpse of the chef at work.
Travel can be complicated, which is why I have an affinity for minimalist hotels — they help keep things organized. Hotel Casa Fayette, where I recently stayed, is a perfect example of a hotel that combines functionality with quality design.
The 37-room hotel was originally a 1940s art-deco mansion and is now a Grupo Habita property and a member of Design Hotels. Opened in 2015, the property has been completely redone by Mexican architectural firm Estudio5, which utilized concrete and steel warmed up by brass, marble and glass details. The rooms have large beds and functional headboards; these should be a hit with millennial travelers who favor the bed as digital communication central.
While the hotel has a fine restaurant, bar and cafe, part of the charm of staying in Colonia Lafayette is venturing out to explore the neighborhood's restaurants, boutiques and art galleries.
While there are excellent museums and galleries in Guadalajara, my recommendation for art lovers would be to first explore the public sculptures, all within a stone's throw of the city's historic cathedral.
The Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres occupies a small park-like space. The rotunda has several statues of Guadalajara's heroic men and women — many of them cultural heroes — including Jose Clemente Orozco, one of Mexico's most celebrated muralists.
A brief walk to the Palacio de Gobierno, or Government Palace, brings travelers to a mind-boggling mural Orozco painted in 1937; it's a masterpiece depicting the political turmoil leading up to World War II. Advise clients to hire a guide or do some online research about the mural before they go — they'll be richly rewarded.
Top off the tour of public art with a look at the belle epoque-style sculptures in the plaza right outside the cathedral. A handful of the sculptures are of nude women, which caused a scandal back in the day, especially for the holy folk heading to Mass at the cathedral.