The picturesque town of Tequila, home of the most famous distillers of Mexico’s national spirit, has long been missing a quality hotel in its downtown precincts. One of the best lodging choices is the boutique property Villa Tequila (formerly Los Abolengos), just a few minutes’ walk from the city’s two main squares.
Apparently the name Los Abolengos (the name connotes noble lineage) was too confusing for foreigners, so the hotel is now Villa Tequila. It is packed compactly into the grounds of a former hacienda. Guest rooms are divided between the former stables and two floors of the main house. Walkways between the various sections of the property — the lobby, guest rooms, secure parking lot, pool and restaurant — are meticulously landscaped, with green grass and colorful flowers — a pleasant oasis in stark contrast to the dusty streets just outside the compound’s walls.
The management of Villa Tequila has been entrusted to Paul Diaz, a successful restaurateur from the beach resort town of Manzanillo who now commutes to Tequila from Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, less than an hour’s drive away on a brand-new tollway. Not surprisingly, given his background, the hotel restaurant has become a stellar attraction: the decor is elegant and the service — including tableside preparation of certain dishes made to order — extremely attentive. Be sure to choose an entree featuring a tequila sauce; for an added touch of romance, book the table in the cozy wine cellar. (Occasionally the hotel will put on a tequila-pairing dinner, currently offered in Spanish only.)
Diaz has also been putting together some interesting recreational packages: golf, at a nearby Jack Nicklaus course, and a rather more unusual attraction — hot air ballooning. The only father-daughter piloting team in Mexico takes customers on unforgettable dawn flights over the unique landscape of fields of blue agave, the raw material for the best tequila.
The guest rooms contain all the features expected of a first-rate hotel — flat-screen televisions, coffee makers, robes and slippers — and even some that are rare in Mexico, such as imported memory-foam mattresses, a pillow menu and bed trays for laptop computers (there is free Wi-Fi throughout the property). The more spacious rooms are located in the main wing, called the Casona, which also boasts some pieces of valuable antique furniture.
Los Abolengos is the ideal place for exploring the “pueblo magico” (magic town) of Tequila, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. A visit to one of the town’s atmospheric cantinas (some of which only recently began admitting women; one has a urinal right next to the bar, in case stumbling to the men’s room is too time-consuming) is a must; the hotel’s location means no driving required And a nightcap in the pleasant night air of the hotel’s al fresco dining area is the perfect way to end the day.