The cobbled streets and cosmopolitan culture of Mexico's San Miguel de Allende have drawn creatives for almost a century. Today, the artistic community flocks to the design-led L'Otel at Dôce 18 Concept House.
Once a quiet colonial town, San Miguel de Allende is today quite the creative haven. Artists and artisans first flocked here in the 30s, and three-quarters of a century later we're, somewhat sheepishly, following suit.
While we're in town, "home" is L'Otel at Dôce 18 Concept House, a colonial-era, pink-stone casa that packs a punch. It's a hub for the city's artistic community, so if you arrive before check-in (3pm onwards) take time to explore the ground-level shopping and food arcadia. Post runaround - and once you've had your passport scanned and credit card swiped at the front desk - head upstairs to L'Otel's guest-only, design-led den.
Furnished with artistic flair, all 10 rooms (including five suites) at L'Otel are distinctive in their design. Linen-swaddled headboards, puttied surfaces and walls displaying delicate floral etchings play to peace-seeking-but-pernickety types. While most rooms - each kitted out with a flat screen TV and chic cut-out fireplaces - sleep two, the Double Deluxe Suite sleeps four (five at a push - the chaise lounge can also be converted into an extra bed). In fact, the space here is so inviting you'll likely want to spend your evening in, so why not spring for the sprawling Owner's Suite, complete with private garden? Order room service from the streamlined food court downstairs - tacos, pizza, rice pudding…
What's for breakfast?
As experienced buffet navigators, we recommend starting with to-good-to-resist conchas (a traditional sweet bread). Follow with a selection of seasonal fruits - mango and papaya - and partner with a festive smattering of yoghurt and granola. Turning your attention to the à la carte menu (included in your room rate in addition to the continental spread), have your eggs made to order and served up on hand-thrown crockery. Wash down with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and pat any crumbs away with your swish cornflower-blue linen napkin.
How about lunch and dinner?
Jacinto 1930 is the resident fine-dining restaurant (although, strictly speaking it's not part of the hotel). Also on the ground level you'll find the Kitchen and Pantry food court, which has another 12 eating options. Opt for a casual lunch of tacos, gourmet burgers or classic Italian comfort food.
Is there a bar?
Whether you're after a midday spritz or a sunset cocktail, the small, wood-and-marble-topped bar on the mezzanine level of the hotel can cater to both your tastes and time schedule. For a wider selection, consider downstairs as your roving drinks cabinet - for fine tequila, stroll over to the Casa Dragones outlet; oenophiles you'll be best catered to at La Selección de la Casa.
There's a small pool ideal for cooling off before lounging on the checkerboard tiled patio with cloud-filled frescos in plain view. If you're nearing a meditative state, why not book an in-room spa treatment at the front desk. The hotel runs regular yoga and pilates classes, or if shopping is your preferred sport, head downstairs, for your fill of art, fashion and design boutiques.
Things I should know
Don't over pack - San Miguel de Allende has great shopping potential. Valet parking is available (which should prove helpful when the time comes to pack up your purchases and head for home).
Within a short walk I can find…
San Miguelle de Allende is a very walkable city. With the historical centre as your starting point, peek inside the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel before venturing to Fábrica la Aurora - a refurbished textile mill populated by cafés, artist's studios and antiques shops. Pick up authentic Mexican crafts at the Mercado de Artesanias, a covered market that opens daily.