Story and Photos by Lee Daley
For a soul soothing stay in San Miguel de Allende, Hotel Matilda, the “hotel different,” is an eye-opener. When you travel to a Mexican colonial city that has been designated a World Heritage Site, you might expect to stay in a well-preserved restored mansion turned hotel. And, in San Miguel, you would have your choice of some of Mexico’s finest examples of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture.The city’s historic center is filled with buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries, many lovingly restored.
On the other end of this spectrum, Hotel Matilda, a boutique hotel, is utterly counter to the city’s past and yet is so elegantly reminiscent of its reverence for art and architecture, style and substance, it has become a haven of serenity and a gathering place for many.
Style: Looking out over our 2nd floor balcony past the pool at bougainvillea-covered walls, we were repeatedly reminded of the architecture of the Greek isles: all sleek white Cubist shapes softened here and there by flowering vines in brilliant hues and intriguing staircases leading to mysterious doorways. While the exterior of Hotel Matilda with its inviting entry was completely different from the surrounding colonial Mexican haciendas, once we entered the inner courtyard, the visual atmosphere, artwork and overall ambiance uniformly bespoke of a different time and place that was refreshingly clean, clear, uncluttered and uniquely enjoyable.
Service and Ambiance: After an overnight flight, we arrived exhausted. Passing through the small courtyard to the reception desk and into the Library Lounge beyond, an intimate space with its fireplace, sofas and chairs in soft neutral tones, coffee table stacked with art books and soothing candles, we felt we had arrived in the private sanctuary of a gentle soul, a collector and connoisseur of fine art. During our visit one of the front desk staff, Carlos, gave us a tour of the hotel’s art collection. Staff, overall, were extremely gracious, attentive and helpful, even offering to run out to a local pharmacy to purchase toothpaste when we inquired.
Artworks: Diego Rivera painted the portrait of the hotel’s namesake, Matilda, (the owner’s mother) which is on permanent display in the Library Lounge. Books turned with their spines to the wall invite investigation. Views of creative photographic art, murals and eclectic pieces, while contemporary in theme, seem to evoke the feel of a bygone era, resembling the elegance and decadence of the Roaring Twenties.
Restaurant and Bar: Mexico’s most famous chef, Enrique Olvera, oversaw the Hotel Matilda Restaurant Moxi, (translates to “cravings” in the local Otomi lingo.) Echoing the contemporary theme and adding natural elements with a waterfall and greenery, diners can choose from well-spaced indoor seating or al fresco patio tables.The upstairs bar boasts a showcase of collector tequilas. Off to one side, an adjoining patio provides a lively evening scene mixing quality wines, appetizers and multi-cultural exchange with locals and visitors from the US, Europe and Mexico. Exhibits by noted artists, gourmet dinners, art festivals, DJ dance parties, and tequila tastings add to the mix.
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Location: Hotel Matilda is located on Calle Aldama, close to San Miguel’s central plaza and the Parroquia San Miguel, is walking distance to shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants as well as the shaded Parque Juarez. On any given day or evening, one festivity or another takes place here, with wood flute players or mariachi musicians serenading those out for a stroll.
Hotel Matilda, Aldama 53, Centro, San Miguel de Allenda, Mexico. www.hotelmatilda.com