A Design Lover's Guide to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Photo: Katelyn Perry
The Weekender

A Design Lover's Guide to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

We teamed up with El Camino Travel to create the trip of an aesthete’s dreams.

Welcome to The Weekender, Coveteur’s travel series where seasoned globetrotters share their insider guides to top destinations across the world. Read on for the best spots to eat, stay, and enjoy.

It’s 1:30 a.m. and I can hear the Mexican trumpets blaring in unison not far off in the distance. The streets of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, are still buzzing with the residual excitement from the town’s annual parade that took place earlier that afternoon. I’m sitting on a rooftop, two (maybe three) glasses of orange wine deep, surrounded by people I’ve known for less than four days. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a conversation that made me both laugh and think this hard at the same time. All is more than well.

Coveteur’s inaugural trip in partnership with El Camino—a travel community organizing itineraries for women who want to travel off the beaten path—is what brought me to San Miguel de Allende. Known for its vibrant colors and abundant art and design, the city is an aesthete's dream, and the trip's itinerary allowed the group to explore it in ways we never could have done on our own. We visited local galleries not open to the public, met with some of the city's top chefs, and set foot in some of San Miguel's most beautiful private homes. Similarly to El Camino’s other trips, our itinerary brought us behind doors that would otherwise remain closed to tourists, introduced us to some of the town’s most authentic and impactful characters, and left us with a feeling of true discovery of the city. Unlike El Camino’s other trips, our itinerary honed in on the art and style that makes the city a vibrant destination—a true mix of travel and design.

When I first learned about the trip, I was hesitant to join. I wasn’t sure I could see myself booking a trip to a place that I’d never been before, with people I’d never met—it seemed like a lot of trust and control to relinquish compared to my usual travel style, which involves excessive research and meticulous planning. Boarding my flight, I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into, and my expectations couldn’t have been more wrong. El Camino brings women together in places they may otherwise not travel to alone, and the sense of community I found within this group was unparalleled. I should have known that it takes brave, empowered women to book a trip like this. Each woman had a strong sense of self and was eager to discover the aesthetic of the city, which is exactly what Coveteur readers embody.

While I could wax poetic about the impact Coveteur's partnership with El Camino, as well as the city of San Miguel de Allende, had on me for a few more paragraphs, I’ll cut myself off here. If my emotional recap didn’t already sell you on the experience, a guide to the city’s best aesthetic and cultural gems, below, definitely will.

Cobblestone streets lined with colorful homes and storefronts run throughout the city.

Photos: Katelyn Perry

Lush greenery that grows throughout the city streets.

Locals enjoy some shade in the town square.

Where to Stay

Casa Hoyos

Hallways to the rooms are vibrantly decorated with yellow tile and mirrored planters.

Photos: Katelyn Perry

The main sitting area, located in an atrium near the lobby of the hotel.

The outside dining area of the hotel, where the group had happy hour and snacks.

I arrived in San Miguel de Allende a bit delirious after more than a few travel hiccups and a 4 a.m. departure time, but setting foot in Casa Hoyos, a boutique hotel in the heart of the city designed by Mexico’s self-proclaimed design darling Maye Ruiz, immediately lifted my mood. The vibrant yellow tiles amid an atrium are an aesthete’s dream—I could spend all day just photographing the hotel alone. The building was once a bank in the 1950s, and much of the original architecture has been left intact, adding to the hotel’s unique charm.

BOOK IT

Meson Hidalgo

Our group leader for the week, Natalia Auza, gives closing remarks at the dinner that took place in one of Meson Hidalgo's rooms.

Photo: Katelyn Perry

The reception area at Meson Hidalgo.

Photo: Pepe Molina

Our last day in San Miguel ended with an elegant dinner at Meson Hidalgo, a boutique guest house and design lover’s dream. It had been on my bucket list for over a year and I was chomping at the bit to peek inside. Comprised of only three rooms, nearly every wall in Meson Hidalgo is hand-painted in vibrant hues and designed to a T, no detail spared. The hotel converted one of the downstairs guest rooms into our dining room for the evening, where our El Camino guides gave closing speeches that nearly had me in tears—both from laughter and sentimentality. The hotel’s store is also a must, with everything from handbags to tablecloths made by local artisans and curated by the hotel's owner, Lara Kirar. You definitely won’t leave empty handed (I certainly didn't).

BOOK IT

What to Do

Trail Ride at Rancho del Sol Dorado

One of the seating areas of Rancho del Sol Dorado.

Photos: Katelyn Perry

Our trail guide for the day, La Suki Armendariz, with one of the ranch's horses and embodying the concept of "western chic."

Fresh pajaretes, a drink made from tequila, cacao, and goat's milk (sourced from the ranch's very own).

On our first morning of the trip, we set out for Rancho del Sol Dorado to take a trail ride with renowned equestrian (and my new style icon) La Suki Armendariz. The ranch is nearly as beautiful as the ride, with luxury casitas and "equestrian glamping" just outside of the city. The countryside of San Miguel is nearly as beautiful as the city itself, and there’s no better way to see it than by horseback. After the ride, celebrate not falling off your horse with a traditional "pajaretes"—a combination of tequila, cacao, and goat’s milk. They milk the goats right in front of you!

Visit Mestiz Studio

A selection of pottery on display in the studio.

Photos: Katelyn Perry

Mestiz's owner, Daniel Valero, playing around with one of the straw lanterns in the studio.

It’s hard to believe the Mestiz studio itself, owned by Daniel Valero, is not a work of art as it looks more like a curated exhibit than a functioning studio. The pieces, from hot pink straw lanterns to bright collages and ceramics, are whimsical and unique. The studio distills the eclectic aesthetic of the city’s culture into a singular space, and is definitely not to be missed.

Take a Cocktail Class at Bekeb

Mixologist Fabiola Padilla hard at work.

Photos: Katelyn Perry

One of the drinks we created, which I'll definitely be re-making at home.

A seating area at the rooftop bar, which boasts 360-degree views of the city.

Head to Bekeb, a buzzing cocktail bar on the rooftop of Casa Hoyos, for fresh cocktails by renowned mixologist Fabiola Padilla. She’s collaborated with New York City favorites like Cosme and the Public Hotel, so you won’t be disappointed. Take in the 360-degree view of the city while sipping on a drink you’ve definitely never had before, likely involving Casa Dragones (the tequila company is headquartered in San Miguel). If you’d like to take a class with the mixologist, call ahead or check in with El Camino to set it up. Padilla will give you the tips and tricks you need to remake the cocktails at home.

Where to Shop

The exterior of Fabrica la Aurora, which used to be a textile mill.

Photos: Katelyn Perry

The interior hallyways full of work from galleries and shops inside.

Some of the El Camino guests wandering the pathways before hitting the shops.

A former textile mill turned booming cultural center, the tens of galleries, jewelers, and antique stores at Fabrica la Aurora will lure you in from every direction. Local artists of every style have works on display, and the shops are the type you can wander for hours. I somehow managed to bring home a good-sized sculpture in my carry-on. When you need a break, grab a quick bite at the cafe before heading back out...you’ll definitely want to stop into a few places twice.

The entryway of the shop with beautiful tiled floors and a Virgin Mary from the original building's interiors.

Photos: Porter Simmons

The shop wraps around a courtyard with merchandise both inside the surrounding rooms and outside of them.

Mixta translates to "mixed" in English, which is a perfect way to describe this eclectic store. Set in a lush courtyard with gorgeous Mexican tiles, you’ll find a little bit of everything—jewelry, ceramics, linens, dresses—the majority of which are made by local artisans and designers. The store is as beautiful as the merchandise, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

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