Colonial Delights in the Hill of Frogs
Ranked ahead of cities like Florence, Barcelona, and Cape Town in Travel+Leisure’s 2016 World’s Best Cities report, I stumbled across the name of a small colonial city in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico called San Miguel de Allende. Guanajuato translates to “hill of frogs” in the language of its indigenous people. Knowing that I had a pending business trip to the recently inaugurated Hampton Inn Irapuato, located just under two hours away from this gem, I could not resist the opportunity to discover what earned San Miguel the bronze in T+L’s ranking. Hello bleisure trip!
Indulge Your Senses
Let’s just say, this city does not disappoint; 24-hours is all that is needed to fall in love with San Miguel de Allende. Imagine a maze of cobblestone streets, ornate churches, temples, and a cathedral from centuries ago. Colorful artesanías are scattered in countless little shops. Enjoy the scents from a delicious fusion of authentic Mexican food from all over the country filling the air. If you’re a foodie like me, you will want to try some pozole rojo at La Alborada restaurant or some Nutella churros at Café San Agustín.
For adventure seekers, you can easily find 4×4 rentals, bike hikes, and hot air balloon rides. Of course, yoga classes, fish spas, and unique boutique shopping are also available for travelers seeking some R&R. Day excursions can be made to the Gruta Spa Mayan thermal baths and vineyards located just outside the city for some real relaxation and time in the country. At night, be sure to pass by the main square to hear mariachi bands serenade locals and tourists alike, while soft prayers echo from the San Miguel Archangel Cathedral’s evening service.
Get to the Capital
Concluding a visit to San Miguel, I suggest taking the hour-long drive to the capital of this beautiful state in the middle of Mexico. Considering it is the capital, this city is definitely action-packed with many great places to see, along with classic local dishes worth trying like enchiladas mineras. What is unique about Guanajuato City is that most of its main streets are actually winding stone tunnels underground!
Above ground are the most colorful two story buildings, decorated with vibrant flowers and array of cacti on their windowsills, as well as multiple historic churches and theaters. If you’re not afraid of heights, be sure to take the funicular up to the Cerro de San Miguel for an incredible panoramic view of the city. To capture a special moment with your loved one, stop by the Callejón del Beso to ‘kiss under the windowsills,’ according to the old legend of the young lovers Carmen & Luis (think Romeo & Juliet but with a Mexican twist). Also, dedicate a night to partake in the interactive tours called callejoneadas where you can learn more about the city’s history, watch a show, and drink all at the same time!
Let Us Welcome You
Let Hilton welcome you to these cities by staying in one of our five Hampton by Hilton hotels located throughout the Guanajuato region in the cities of Leon, Silao, Irapuato, Celaya*, and Salamanca. All five Hampton locations offer a complimentary breakfast buffet with a unique fusion of Mexican and American favorites and free Wi-Fi; shuttle services to & from the airport and the city of Guanajuato are also available at select hotels. San Miguel is approximately two hours away, but you can coordinate private transportation or a car rental with the hotel.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore these incredible colonial cities located in Central Mexico! My only regret? Not bringing a bigger suitcase. ¡Buen viaje!
*Hampton Celaya is opening in May 2017