Of all the places I traveled to virtually for my meetings with Virtuoso partners last week, the destination that caught sparked my wanderlust most was San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I can't wait to pair it with the monarch butterfly migration sanctuaries I also learned about - very close by! The entire 64-block historic center of this enchanting town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's become a haven for artists from all around the world, drawn by the Baroque/Neoclassical Spanish colonial architecture and vibrant art scene. Wandering the cobblestone streets you'll discover colonial homes turned into art galleries or museums. Check out the ceremonial masks at Museo de la Máscara (Mask Museum), and Fábrica La Aurora, an old textile factory now filled with galleries of antiques, decorative items, sandstone handicrafts, glass, and jewelry - plus restaurants and cafés.
So when are we going? Anytime! The weather feels like an eternal spring, and there's no real bad time to go. High season is winter with clear skies and cooler nights. Summer is rainier with mild temps and verdant foliage, and fall is filled with fiestas, parades, and fireworks. The Art Director of Virtuoso Life just traveled to San Miguel de Allende, and I thought you'd like to hear her impressions too. Enjoy!
I’ve had many memorable Mexican beach vacations, but as a photographer, what really gets my heart racing (and shutter clicking) is immersing myself in the day-to-day life of a Mexican city. The UNESCO World Heritage site of San Miguel de Allende drew me for its arts scene, artisan traditions, and Spanish colonial architecture. About 150 miles north of Mexico City in the Mexican highlands, its low skyline is dotted with colorful buildings, green palms, and slender cypress. Golden hour glows a peachy pink, fitting for a town whose most iconic structure is the rose-colored Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. San Miguel’s arts institute, the Escuela de Bellas Artes (a former convent), is integral to its pull as an artists’ community.
Travel right now is, of course, a personal decision. After weighing the options late last year, I masked up for a flight to SMA and arrived to find a city where Covid protocols were taken seriously, including a mask ordinance and QR-code checks to prove hotel reservations for nonresidents. I checked into the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, which feels like a luxe hacienda – and welcomed me with a personalized Casa Dragones margarita-making kit.
The city of 76,000 is small – smaller than I’d imagined. The cobblestones are no joke (appropriate footwear is a must), but well worth navigating for finds at the many cool boutiques, galleries, and markets. I discovered a new tajín spice blend for sprinkling on jicama and brought some back as a souvenir, made my own mini mojiganga (San Miguel’s traditional giant papier-mâché puppet) at a local artist’s studio, and returned home with photos that reaffirmed my love for Mexico’s cities.
San Miguel Hotels
The best vantage point at the 67-room Rosewood San Miguel de Allende in the center of the city is its Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar, for 360-degree vistas of the city’s skyline. The property’s gardens burst with lavender, bougainvillea, and hibiscus, a rich complement to the hotel’s interiors, which are filled with Mexican art, handcarved wood flourishes, and locally made pottery. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 spa credit.
The 37-room Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada is spread throughout several Spanish colonial buildings, including a seventeenth-century fortress. Perfect for a travel pod: standalone, multiroom houses (some with private plunge pools) that groups can reserve in their entirety. Talavera tiles and free-flowing palomas complete the vibe. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 spa credit.
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