Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel, San Miguel de Alle – a Sensational Relic of Colonial Mexico
Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel, San Miguel de Allende, is a romantic Spanish-colonial property in the heart of Mexico’s idyllic town San Miguel de Allende. Embraced and refurbished by the prestigious Belmond group, the long-established hotel comprises of five 18th-century colonial mansions linked by cactus-filled gardens. One of the best preserved colonial little towns in all of Mexico, San Miguel is known for its baroque Spanish architecture, shrouded by a churrigueresque facade. I had the pleasure of experiencing the ethereal beauty and solitude of this stunning property, whilst being immersed in the local culture simultaneously.
A favourite weekend spot for the well-heeled Mexican traveller, the hotel offers luxury and exclusivity with classic comforts and some of the most impressive views over this picturesque city. Within a short walk of the town’s central plaza, the hotel is a smart choice for those seeking convenience, but also exclusivity. Despite the central location, the hotel still feels far away enough from the hustle and bustle of people and cars, the only sound being the ringing bell from the Cathedral. The Belmond’s exterior gives little indication of the sensational courtyards tucked behind the walls, shaded by a wall of Mexican greenery. Highlights include bewitching views of the idyllic San Miguel skyline from every nook of the terraced gardens, dining spaces and the west-facing rooms.
The suites are spread through two separate buildings – Casa Limón and Casa Palma. Rooms are layered in equestrian luxury, with bespoke wooden headboards, local Mexican tapestry rugs and storied quarrystone fireplaces. We stayed in Belmond’s Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite, housed in the main Casa opposite the breakfast area.
The rooms are a subdued medley of antique chairs, polished-wood writing desks, leather-bound books, terracotta-tiled floors and deeply comfortable beds skirted with classic fabrics. The overabundance of Mexican art – sewed animals, merry Mariarchi men and flower pots – staring at you may be unnerving at times, but it’s all part of the ambiance. Well-thought-out details include old-fashioned porcelain light switches, traditional blown glassware, and a flatscreen TV above the fireplace, with the tall windows opening out onto reverie-inspiring views of the scenes below.
Images courtesy of Eva Piskadlo
The bathroom is a design triumph – a departure from the ubiquitous common areas. A stone floor meets royal blue Talavera wall tiles, all of which were painstakingly applied individually by local artisans – the same enrobing the hotel’s cavernous entrance hall. Their glaze and colour recall boiled sweets, while the copper taps, rails and frosted wall lamps set an equestrian tone. The smaller rooms still enjoy the same scrumptious spec of design as the slightly pricier options. Our bathroom also came with a gorgeous copper freestanding bath. I was very thankful for the luxuriously long soak after a day of horseback riding in the plains of Guanajuato.
Never underestimate the power of a plunge pool. Our terrace suite came fitted with one of these on the private rooftop terrace, with sun loungers and a dining table – great for those evening sundowners. Standard in-room amenities, well-stocked mini-bar, reliable wifi, and in-house organic and eco-friendly bath products all are perks.
A surefire crowd-pleaser, the latest addition to the dining choices is Restaurant del Parque, a variation on the mini-Mexican empire of traditional fare, with a menu of terroir food. The kitchen serves up classic local and national dishes made from fresh produce sourced locally. All meals are usually served with corn or flour tortillas warmed in a traditional clay oven and salsas made from 12 types of chilli. And don’t miss the cocktails: the mezcal-based Desierto Silvestre has salt, anise, cinnamon, rosemary and honey.
Breakfast is served in the hotel’s main courtyard Andaza. Spoilt for choice with an array of international and Mexican favourites, there is something for everyone’s palate. This is also served all the way until 12 noon, which I strongly believe should be the standard time range offered at every hotel. This allows for long lie-ins, or a morning walk before settling down for mealtime. This is a massive tick in my book. The property also has an on-site pool, gym and sauna for in-house guests.
The adventures and experiences are the selling point of a stay at Casa de Sierra Nevada. Touch up your Mexican culinary skills at chef-led cookery school a short walk away from the main Belmond property, or attend an art workshop at the in-house studio.
Images courtesy of Eva Piskadlo
I had the chance to experience the hotel’s bespoke wine tasting on our own private rooftop at twilight, with a selection of sharing boards and crudites with our pairings. Whilst Mexico is not typically renowned for its wine, San Miguel offers optimum weather for wine country. We sampled a range of fabulous grapes from Dolores Hidalgo, and wines from the local wine producer Cuna de Tierra – I adored this. The Rosato I was less fond of, but the velvety Merlot I took a better liking to. The concierge service is also able to organise tequila and mezcal pairings, if this is preferable. It was a magical evening, with great wine, and the fiery backdrop of the San Miguel skies gradually moving into dusk.
San Miguel de Allende attracts a chic international crowd in the summer – bronzed American industrialists with stubble beards, Panama hats and linen shirts; regional Mexicans with a penchant for local culture; retired European couples who are diehard history snobs and own holiday homes in the area. There really is the whole spectrum, but one thing is common is the good taste.
With activities, facilities and the luxuries for every member of the family and traveller type, we were well and truly spoilt. You'll want for nothing here, for every request is not too small or too large. I cannot thank the staff enough for the world-class hospitality and yearn to return very soon.
Belmond Casa de Sierra, A Belmond Hotel, San Miguel de Allende, Hospicio 35 San Miguel de Allende Guanajuato Mexico 37700