Before Hotel Matilda opened in 2010, 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 then—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 UNESCO World Heritage town. They also wanted to appeal to 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’s not an exaggeration to say that Hotel Matilda started what became a wave of new visitors and publicity for San Miguel de Allende, turning it from a city that was off the radar for anyone under 50 to a place that now pulls in Mexico City hipsters and shows up as one of the best cities in the world in magazines like Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Travel.
This complex is compact but well-designed, with a large lobby sitting area that’s a great place for a book or conversation. Take some time to wander it and look at the art, including paintings from some talented local professional artists.
The heated pool is inviting, with the sun hitting it most of the day and fluffy towels waiting on lounge chairs. You can order drinks or food there while you’re lounging.
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, a bathtub, and shower. The relaxation room is so pretty that it’s often used as an area for marriage proposals.
Dining at Moxi and Müi
The main restaurant, Moxi, is an appropriate place to eat in these distanced times since it’s a covered indoor/outdoor space with plenty of fresh air circulating through. It originally claimed Enrique Olvera as its executive chef and the menu was quite ambitious. As he got stretched thinner and thinner though expanding his empire, Moxi eventually brought on the Australian chef from Bovine a few blocks away. The new menu is more limited and is clearly trying to be satisfying and comfortable rather than showy, with the kitchen staff not under pressure to produce visual works of art.
Everything we had hit all the right notes, whether that was a pretty fruit and yogurt plate for the included continental breakfast or a perfectly grilled octopus dish at dinner. Plus the cheesecake pictured here before we devoured it was divine.
There’s a good wine selection, a few craft beers, and an impressive display of mezcal, tequila, and whiskey to try. Before there was no bar on the restaurant and pool level, but while the hotel was closed down for months during the pandemic outbreak, the owners took the time to build a new one outside to serve both spaces. They also used the time to put through some renovations and replace furniture in Moxi and some of the suites.
Müi Ramen Bar is the other dining and drinking space, 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 a great spot for a drink or a place to order something different to eat from the ramen-themed menu.
We did also eat at Bovine Brasserie, developed by the same owners, which is just off the main square of San Miguel de Allende. It’s an indoor affair, which was fine before 2020, but needs to be half full now to operate. The concierge can make sure you get a reservation though if you give them a bit of warning. We had some excellent salads, seafood, and delicious short ribs Bourgignon—with a pretty cocktail for her and a Mexican wine for me.
Hotel Matilda Rooms
Rooms at Matilda come in several configurations in four different buildings. The ones in the A and B buildings have furnished balconies or terraces. Others don’t have outdoor spaces, but still get plenty of natural light in this sunny climate. All come tricked out with remote-controlled lights and climate control, plus a large TV with a variety of English channels. High-speed internet access is complimentary and works well throughout. Each room has some kind of music player and coffee maker.
Thick and fluffy 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 that has large Malin + Goetz toiletries bottles with pump tops. As you go up in room classes, there may be a double vanity, separate rain shower, a soaking tub, and more space. Junior Suites and Luxury Suites get fancier furniture and design accessories, while the ultimate is the Owner’s Suite, with more lounging furniture, a large outdoor furnished terrace, bigger bath, 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 than Americans or Canadians. (Yes, there are plenty of Mexicans with loads of money to spend.) So book well in advance if you’re coming anytime close to Easter or a Mexican holiday weekend.
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 $250 per night with continental breakfast and break the $1,000 mark for the best suites on prime weekends. If you drive in, they’ll valet park your car in a lot nearby. If you don’t, that’s no problem since everything is within walking distance. Book direct with Hotel Matilda or check rates at Hotels.com.