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By Samantha Skidmore

San Miguel de Allende is a beautiful artist community nestled in the mountains of central Mexico. An ethereal, old world inspired gem, San Miguel sticks out of the dry terrain like a bright cactus flower. Walk the cobblestone streets and experience the colourful dream of this bohemian city.

Drenched in artistry and radiating poetic energy, San Miguel was once a favourite destination for artists such as Jack Kerouac and Frida Kahlo. Come enjoy everything this magical city has to offer.

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Mojitos at the Rosewood Hotel; if you fancy a day by the pool, grab one of the Rosewood’s many cabanas and try the huauchinango tacos.

Where to Stay:

The Rosewood Hotel is by far the most luxurious and biggest hotel in San Miguel. It’s beautiful coral exterior is practically drowning in the lush greenery and ivy that twist and wind around the building. The traditional “open roof” style of the hotel is both refreshing and exotic. Rooms are dotted around the focal point of a dramatic fountain and open sky. With over five bars and restaurants within the hotel, there is no shortage of wonderful food and drinks. If you fancy a day by the pool, grab one of the Rosewood’s many cabanas and try the huauchinango tacos. If you are in the mood for something else, try the Massage de Allende at the Sense Spa located in the hotel. After dinner, check out the Rosewood’s gorgeous wine cellar, then head to the rooftop bar for the best view in the entire city.

Although there is no shortage of wonderful boutique hotels in San Miguel, one of them most popular accommodation options is to rent a house. Most of these houses are occupied by their owners certain months of the year, but are up for grabs on the off months. If you can find one close to the Jardin (center of town), this is ideal. One of the most popular houses to rent in San Miguel is Casa Valentina. This indulgent house comes fully staffed and sleeps up to ten. It is also rumored this is where Johnny Depp often stays.

One of the best boutique hotels in San Miguel is the Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada. The most unique aspect of this hotel is that it hosts its own cooking school, Sazon. So sign up for a lesson in traditional Mexican cooking if you get the chance. The Sierra Nevada offers numerous patios often dotted with amazing art work from local artists. At nighttime, the hotel and it’s various courtyards are illuminated by lanterns and the moon. Don’t miss out on this romantic hotel. Even if you are not able to stay here, definitely stop by for a drink in their bar. Craft cocktails are served alongside rich wood furnishings and comfortable cow hide chairs.

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Where to Eat:

If you don’t mind driving a little out of town, the Coyote Flaco is a must. This outdoor restaurant is famous for their wood fired pizzas and grilled fare. Try the lamb chops or grilled octopus. Whimsically decorated with various art pieces and colorful glass spheres hanging from trees, Coyote Flaco looks like a fairy courtyard. Vibrantly colored place mats, a chalkboard that acts as the restaurant’s menu and the organically curving tree structures that shade the tables are truly unique. Ask for a tour into the Vampire Cave and climb underground into a 100 year old tunnel that once acted as a way to smuggle people, and now serves as a wine cellar. Look for the mammoth remains at the end of the Vampire Cave- they are both eerie and fascinating.

If you want to try some of the best traditional Mexican food in town, head to La Posadita located on Calle Cuna de Allende. Don’t bother with the tables downstairs and head straight up to their rooftop patio. Amazing views, Tamarind Margaritas and tasty Lengua tacos. Tourists and locals both enjoy this cozy spot.

If you get tired of Mexican food, then you have to try the Italian at Antigua Trattoria Romana. This tiny restaurant is located on the elbow of Zacateros. The quaint exterior is charming but it does not do the food justice. Try the Chicken Limone and check out their extensive wine list.

Lunch at Cayote Flaco

Where To Go Out

El Grito is the most hip and the most exclusive nightlife destination in San Miguel. Characterized by the screaming stone Gargoyle at the forefront of the building, El Grito is the place to be for thumping bass and a sophisticated crowd.

The rooftop Luna Bar at the Rosewood makes for a serene and intimate night out. Lovely tapas, fresh drinks, warm blankets, heat lamps and the view make up this enchanting space.

If you want to be like a local, then order a Michelada (beer of your choice mixed with spices, tomato juice and lime) in the Jardin. This is the center of town and it is always bustling with tourists, locals, vendors and performers. It is characterized by the stunning gothic style cathedral that juts into the night sky. This is one of the most beautiful churches inside and out so don’t miss it. If you come during the holidays, this is where all the processions, fire works, parades and posadas take place. Ornate christmas scenes, nacimientos, take centerstage in December.

If your looking to leave your hotel and adventure during the day, San Miguel offers dozens of beautiful art galleries and art schools strewn about the city. Stop by the Instituto Allende to view amazing local art and sign up for an art or Spanish workshop. The space itself is a piece of art- open ceilings and fountains fill the grounds.

The New Years Eve Bull Fight

Where To Shop

This city is a shoppers paradise. If you have an eclectic taste and want to sift through some of the best and most interesting silver jewelry in San Miguel, head to El Mercado. This is the cities’ market and it is enormous. Get lost in the winding pathways and tiny stalls, check out the beautifully decorates matchboxes. There is something here for everyone.

You cant leave San Miguel without buying some amazing art. Galeria Atenea, at Jesus 2, is one the cities oldest galleries. They sell original sculptures by Sergio Bustamante along with various other pieces done by locals and foreigners alike.

San Miguel is famous for leather. Talula de la Luna is a tiny boutique that specializes in handmade and hand painted leather purses and belts. Nearby there is also Prison Art. A contemporary shop with purses and other trinkets designed and hand painted by Mexican prisoners. Prison Art is a shopping experience truly unique to San Miguel.

Matchboxes of San Miguel

 

All images taken by Serena Skidmore for I AM MARIE

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March 30, 2016