Destination Spotlight: San Miguel de Allende
Spend any time in San Miguel de Allende, and you’ll quickly see why so many people expatriate there. Soon enough, you’ll want to move there too. By day or by night, the place is a work of art. Colonial charm emanates from the town center and spills onto green hillsides. At just over 6,000 feet of elevation and with an average temperature in the 60s Fahrenheit, walking into San Miguel feels like stepping into a dream. Fair warning, though, if you’re driving in -- especially at night -- navigating the narrow and sharply angled cobblestone streets can be more of a nightmare.
Stroll through town, however, and you’re awash in colorful buildings, colorful people and friendly dogs. In such a picturesque place, it’s no wonder there is a thriving artistic community. The Mercado de Artesanias (Artisans’ Market) is the perfect venue to sample the work of talented craftspeople hawking paintings, serapes and handmade jewelry.
In such a beautiful setting, it’s a welcome challenge to turn your day into its own work of art. There’s a certain craft to drawing the hours out lazily while savoring every moment, but the locals seem to have it down pat. The entire fortified town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so just wander around and you’re bound to run into such architectural marvels as the San Francisco Church, Church of the Immaculate Conception or Ignacio Allende House. And you can barely make it a block without hitting a gallery.
Time moves slowly in San Miguel, so there’s nothing wrong with spending an afternoon sipping small-batch tequila with an expert from Casa Dragones, either in the eponymous casa when it’s available or in the new six-seat tasting room, “The Smallest Tequila Bar in the World.” Learn the history of the casa, which once housed the stables of the queen of Spain’s bodyguard and played a key role in the Mexican Revolution, and of the spirit, which was the brainchild of MTV founder Robert Pittman and Bertha Gonzalez Nieves, the first woman certified as a tequila master by the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters. In 2013, Casa Dragones’ Joven earned a 96 score from Wine Enthusiast, the magazine’s highest mark for a tequila.
To put the finishing strokes on your masterpiece of a day, get to a rooftop in time to watch the sun dip the below the hills and the sky fill with stars as a cool breeze wafts in. The day fades to night, and suddenly, there you are in that dream again.
WHERE TO STAY:
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende: Set in the heart of this charming artists' village, the 67-guestroom Rosewood San Miguel de Allende promises a stay fit for dignitaries. All visitors appreciate its fine Mexican craftsmanship. The rooms are decorated with stunning wood-beamed ceilings and a private balcony or terrace, and most have fireplaces. Taste innovative cuisine from 1826 restaurant's open artisan kitchen, then whip up your own in on-site cooking classes. Relax poolside or at Sense, A Rosewood Spa, while the children are entertained with daily hands-on activities at the kids' club.
Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada: A stay at Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada is not just a hotel visit, it's a beneficial experience, leaving you with an understanding of this enchanting region. This boutique hotel and cooking school caters to the world's most discriminating travelers with resplendent guestrooms and suites; 37 bedrooms are scattered throughout six mansions and the Casa del Parque. Each room is individually decorated with antiques, lush fabrics and vibrant Talavera tiles. As expected, the restaurant is one of the country's top dining establishments; you can also dine in the privacy of your room or on the romantic terrace.