San Miguel de Allende.

February 1st 2018

SMA is SO cute!

It’s charming, folksy and traditional (think: cobblestone streets and artisan markets) with a dash of the ultra-modern and cosmopolitan (and an unsuspecting number of high-end boutiques, restaurants and experiences). The shopping is awesome (especially for interior design and homewares), as are the sights (Jardin de la Union, Parroquia, etc.)

Cons: It’s not easy to get to (it’s an hour and a half from the closest airport(s) or four hours from Mexico City) and the temperature is erratic. Nighttime was literally 30 degrees when I was there, an daytime was in the 70s.

Hotels:

We loved the Rosewood! We were a group of 14 (7 couples), so we rented 2 side-by-side villas there and they were perfect. The service was top-notch and the rooms were spacious with a rustic hacienda vibe. There’s also a beautiful pool and tennis courts. I had read that it’s on the outskirts of town but it most definitely doesn’t feel that way. It’s a 5-7 minute walk from most everything.

I looked quickly at Hotel Matilda while we were there…I’d still choose the Rosewood. L’Otel I saw from the outside (the one @ Doce 18 Concept House) and it looked beautiful. Belmond is also a staple there (thought I’ve heard it’s tired).

Bars:

Go to Luna on your first night there for sunset drinks. It’s the perfect welcome to the city with an epic view and great margaritas/guacomole. If you can make it ’til midnight, go to Mama Mia and salsa dance. The bar next door has a fun cover band for while you wait. Pro tips: Slip the singer a $20 and he’ll play Despacito for you. Also, do not order a single thing to eat at Mama Mia. Not even the bread. You’re welcome. Quince is another nice rooftop bar.

Restaurants:

Aperi = Fantastic. Disclaimer, we didn’t actually go to the restaurant but the chef cooked us a private meal and it was amazing. RE: the private meal – if you go with a large group, try and reserve a tequila tasting at Casa Dragones (the actual Casa of Casa Dragones) and see if you can organize a dinner in their beautiful garden.

Moxi at Hotel Matilda is good, certainly not as good as everyone says.

The best meal in the entire town is the breakfast at Lavanda. I went on my last day and would fly back just to eat every single meal there. (Though they are famous for their breakfast and coffee).

The Restaurant is another spot that’s on everyone’s list. It’s fine. The vibe is chic and the food (American) is a solid B+ which, if you live in NYC and only have a few days in Mexico, isn’t a must. (Though I’ve heard they have a pretty legitimate burger night on Thursday’s).

On the burger note – and being a total hypocrite – I did go to Birdie’s Burgers in the Doce 18 Concept House. It’s a cute little stand in a lovely food court with A+ burgers. Taco Lab, in the same food court, has great fish tacos, burritos, etc.

If you want a legit, old-school bakery, find Panaderia La Purisma. We ordered one of every single cookie – highlights included the pink icing one and the elephant ear thingamajig. The old woman who owns it is delicious, too.

Kibok for coffee.

Sunday brunch at the Rosewood Hotel is also a thing.

Recommendations from my crowdsourced list that I didn’t get to: Los Milagros (casual Mexican dinner), La Alborado (for lunch, popular local lunch spot), El Correo (for tortilla soup), Baja Fish Taquito (best fish tacos), Jardin Rama

Shopping:

Casa Armadi: We joked it’s like the Restoration Hardware of Mexico…but way cooler. Buy ALL the candles.

Chaskis: It’s quite overwhelming but if you’re prepared to sort and dig you can find some great stuff. The kid’s stuff is especially adorable. Plus I picked up a few Isabel Marant-y, boho vibe tops.

Mixta: Chic, well-curated concept store. The jewelry is eh but there’s great bowls and blankets. I bought funky coasters. There’s a lot of Australian + foreign brands so less “authentic” than other stores in town.

Tao: Funky studio gallery with high-end items all made in Mexico.

Plar: Cool ceramics + a lot of other things (the space itself is beautiful, too).

Agua de Coco: Easy, breezy clothes + accessories.

Makamah: Awesome hammock store, if you happen to be in the market for one.

Eclectica: Great interior design store.

Kingsley Market: I found this via a Vogue write-up…it’s interesting because everything is made by Mexican artisans though it’s pricey and not really my style.

Sollano 16: Worth seeing – beautiful store filed with lots of things they have in America and some things that they don’t.

Mercado de Artesenias: This is the actual market. Make sure you start at one end and go all the way to the other end (it’s 4 separate markets in one). I have mixed reactions about it…there’s a lot of junk to sift through but also opportunity to buy beautiful napkins (which I did) and sweet toys.

Wabi: Cool interior stuff.

Doce 18 Concept House: Lots of little stores, food stands, restaurants. Very LA vibe. Lots of American stuff, nothing really for me here but definitely worth seeing.

Fabrica La Aurora: An upscale conglomeration of art and furniture galleries in an old fabric factory about 15 minutes outside of town. Worth going if you have an extra day though the wares are hit or miss (mostly miss IMO).

In the market opposite the jardin there’s a whole row of ladies making fresh, beautiful flower crowns. Buy one, pretend you’re Frida Kahlo.

Other stuff (that I didn’t do for lack of time or availability):

Bullfight @ Plaza de Toros Oriente bullring (check schedule)

Horseback riding at Xotolar Ranch

Golf @ Ventanas (my husband recommends)

La Gruta or Escondido Hot Springs

Cooking Class

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Atoetonilco (They say it’s the Sistine Chapel of SMA)

Important Info:

To/From airport pickup we used Daniel: daniel@hernandez-tours.com, http://hernandez-tours.com, 521(415)1051907

Don’t pack heels or even wedges. It’s all windy and cobblestone. Booties + sneakers are all you need.

Night is cold, day is hot

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