Artistically and culinarily dynamic and ever-evolving, San Miguel de Allende (around 170 miles from Mexico City) is one of Mexico‘s most exciting and photogenic cities. Between the wonderfully wonky cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, baroque to neo-gothic architecture and bougainvillea-covered walls of the city, there’s innovation bubbling. The city is UNESCO-protected, but it’s much more than a historically significant place. Inventive architecture, concept shops, thoughtful stores, incredible food, luxurious accommodation and beautiful public spaces make this city feel as ancient as it does electric. And, whether hosting the MAG Festival or celebrating religious holidays, San Miguel de Allende offers a sense of community and connection that’s welcoming for visitors. Here, we highlight some of our favorite places in this wildly alluring city.
The 32-room (including nine suites) Hotel Matilda has plenty to offer. Tucked behind a historic but unassuming façade is a modern and luxurious oasis. With a bar, indoor/outdoor restaurant Moxi, and pool, Hotel Matilda is a cleverly designed property that never feels too busy. The spa—entirely hidden from view—is a tranquil refuge offering lavish, personalized treatments. While the hotel is high-end, it’s also laid-back—there’s a distinctly friendly and familiar vibe from the reception through to the backyard. A word of warning: when lounging by the pool, keep in mind that San Miguel de Allende is some 6,000 feet above sea level, making the sun’s rays—and many say, hangovers—extra-strong.
Conceived by Bruce James and the Australian chef behind Magno Brasserie, Paul Bentley, Bovine is a brasserie-style restaurant located inside the Post Code Design building. While there are options for vegetarians, Bovine is really for meat-eaters—predictable, considering its name. The food is rich and incredibly flavorful, but steers clear of overt heaviness. Regardless of one’s main course selection, we suggest trying the grilled leeks with gribiche sauce, cured egg yolk and chives. Make sure to take time to enjoy cocktails through dessert in this lush, sophisticated restaurant—with its opulent gold tabletops, jewel-toned seating and contrasting outdoor space.
Ideal for an afternoon cocktail and snack, La Unica is an airy and colorful space, found via staircase and ivy-wrapped corridor. Be sure to get a table on the bougainvillea-covered terrace, overlooking the main square—complete with views of the neo-Gothic church Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. If you make it for sunset, the church’s pink spires make for some especially photogenic moments.
A CH favorite for some time, small-batch tequila brand Casa Dragones has its home in San Miguel de Allende—right off Plaza Principal. Once the stables of the city’s legendary Dragones cavalry, the “spiritual” home of the tequila (the liquid itself is made in Jalisco) is now a glorious private house. While it’s tricky to find, once inside the historic headquarters, visitors will learn all about the luxury tequila’s process while tasting the various iterations. Be sure to book your tour ahead of your visit.
Whether hanging out in Mixta‘s cactus-covered courtyard or wandering through the many rooms filled with carefully selected items from San Miguel de Allende and beyond, the feeling of discovery is strong. Hidden behind a fairly modest doorway, Mixta is home to plenty of plants as well as clothing, artwork, homeware, jewelry, trinkets and tchotchkes that are several steps above most souvenirs. With incredibly friendly and helpful staff, this spot—complete with its original frescoes—feels akin to a sanctuary.