Before Hotel Matilda opened a few years ago, there was no such thing as a design hotel, artsy hotel, or hip hangout place in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. This is a Spanish colonial city with a deep history and most of the hotels and B&Bs reflected that. For the majority of the clientele visiting the city—retirees and those coming to visit them—that was fine.
The owners of Hotel Matilda envisioned a different type of customer though. In a true manifestation of the “build it and they will come” philosophy, they set out to open a lodging space that would bring in the young creative types from abroad who were skipping this small town and the moneyed class from Mexico City looking for contemporary design, not an homage to the past.
It was a resounding success. For the creative class and design-conscious, this modern and artsy hotel in the midst of a city known for colonial architecture has been a magnet for a new type of clientele.
It doesn’t hurt that the restaurant, Moxi, claims Enrique Olvera as its executive chef. He’s one of Mexico’s most famous chefs, running Pujol in Mexico City—frequently touted as one of best restaurants in the world. The dinner tasting menu allows you to sample a whole range of his creations, described as “a Mexican soul but with an international palate.” Or order what looks enticing from a menu that makes use of Mexican ingredients like green pumpkin seed mole, chochoyota soup, chilacayota squash, and various dried peppers combined with non-traditional cooking techniques and presentations.
The other dining and drinking space is up a flight of stairs to another indoor-outdoor space taking advantage of the (usually) temperate weather in this region. With well-prepared cocktails and whimsical decor—including small tables resting on arms coming from the wall—this is one of the city’s best see and be seen spots.
The heated pool is inviting, with the sun hitting it most of the day and fluffy towels waiting on lounge chairs. A full spa is on site with a wide range of treatments, in single rooms or his-and-hers rooms. One of the latter has a connected steam room.
Rooms at Matilda come in several configurations in four different buildings. The ones in the A and B buildings have furnished balconies or terraces. All come tricked out with remote-controlled lights and climate control, plus a large flat-screen TV with a variety of English channels. Internet access is complimentary, but is kind of spotty from room to room. It works best in the public areas.
Robes, slippers, minibars, and electronic safes are standard and there’s ample closet and drawer room for lots of clothing. Big sliding wood doors close off the bathroom, which generally has a combo shower/bath and large Malin + Goetz toiletries bottles with pump tops. As you go up in room classes, there may be a double vanity, separate rain shower and more space. Junior Suites and Luxe Suites get fancier furniture and design accessories, while the ultimate is the Owner’s Suite, with a separate living room, large outdoor terrace looking down on the rest of the hotel, and a walk-in closet.
English proficiency is good throughout, though unlike many businesses in this foreigner-dominated city, the staff will answer back in Spanish if you want some practice. This is a hotel that actually gets more domestic tourists that Americans or Canadians. (Yes, there are plenty of Mexicans with loads of money to spend.)
There are other luxury hotels in San Miguel de Allende that are well-run and very nice, but if your tastes are grounded more in the modern than the historic, make a date with Matilda.
Rooms here start at around $300 per night with continental breakfast and break the $1,000 mark for the best suites. They are highest during snowbird times and Mexican holiday periods. Book direct with Hotel Matilda or check rates at Hotels.com and Priceline.
Editor Tim Leffel was a guest of Hotel Matilda while writing a San Miguel de Allende luxury travel tour story for another publication.