The Mexican ghost town of Mineral de Pozos, in central Guanajuato state, was almost completely abandoned at one point and you can visit empty mining settlements on the outskirts all around. The historic center has slowly but surely gotten more lived-in again, however. One way to experience the transition from ruins to renaissance is by staying at Posada de las Minas hotel.
This lovely hotel in the center of town is a great example of how investment and vision can bring a building back from ruin and turn it into something delightful. Two decades ago, this building was just a shell, with only remnants of a roof and crumbling walls. You can see some of those original walls in the patio areas, but the rebuilt interior would make you think it has looked this way for 100 years or more.
Mineral de Pozos is one of the original Pueblos Magicos, or “Magic Towns,” back when that designation really led you to someplace special. (Now the national government seems to hand the designations out like economic development political favors instead, with the number at 132 and rising.) The area boomed as a mining center twice: first under the early Spanish conquistadors and Jesuits starting in the late 1500s, then again in the early 1900s under President Porfirio Diaz. He pumped so much money into reviving the mines that they named the town after him for a few decades. Rich veins got tapped out and a few flooded mine shaft disasters created more problems, so after a while, Mineral de Pozos’ population shrank to just a few hundred people.
It’s a fascinating place to explore, but the altitude is high and the sun is bright in this high desert area that is about an hour and a half from San Miguel de Allende. So it’s nice if you can spend a night or two here and rest up in a lovely hotel in the evening instead of getting in a vehicle for a return trip back. You can’t ask for a much more pleasant place to relax in the evening than at Posadas de las Minas.
First of all, the restaurant here is clearly one of the best in town and since many of its worthy competitors are only open on the weekends, this pushes it to the top most days of the week. Everything we ordered here was good at breakfast and dinner, though we stuck to Mexican classics we knew they would get right. The main draw is the atmosphere: you can dine in an open courtyard in the middle of the property—covered or not—or pick a table in one of several other indoor or outdoor spaces. Some of them still have the original walls in just a partial state of renovation and there’s a strong sense of place in the decor.
The personality really shines in Cantina Mina, the bar area that will make you feel like you’re in a cowboy saloon from a movie. Beamed ceilings and a stone fireplace for chilly winter nights are joined by decorative elements incorporating guns, sombreros, horseshoes, wagon wheels, and leather. It’s pretty much a perfect Mexican bar, even without the impressive historic mural covering one wall.
Naturally, you can find a variety of tequila and mezcal to choose from here, but I went for the local Vopper beer they had in stock to try out this corner of the Guanajuato craft beer scene.
Posada de las Minas has eight rooms in all, some of them small enough to require a fish-eye lens in the photos on the official website, but this isn’t the kind of place where guests spend most of the time in their rooms. There’s plenty of space to stretch out in the various courtyards, patios, and dining areas instead.
Even the coziest ones are designed with care and there’s something interesting to look at from every angle.
There are a couple of suites that are much larger, however, and the amount to upgrade is relatively modest in this part of the world. For some quarters this will get you a fireplace and a kitchen area.
Regardless of which room you’re in, you’ll get some well-thought-out items to admire that are made in Mexico, including local rugs, bedspreads, and wood furniture. They all have a theme going too. Ours was Las Muñecas (The Dolls), so we had some locally crafted dolls scattered around on dresser tops. El Cactus has a hand-carved headboard with a cacti theme. Some are named after abandoned local mining communities that you can now visit.
All include a TV, climate control, and basic toiletries. Wi-Fi is included, but the signal sometimes doesn’t reach through the thick walls and you’re better off checking messages in the public areas.
We arrived in a rental car and were happy that parking in a secure lot was included. It’s right around the corner from the lobby entrance.
While we absolutely loved our serene stay at Mineral del Cielo on the outskirts of town another night, this is a better choice if you want to have a restaurant and bar on site. You can walk right out the door to more options close by as well.
Rates for standard rooms are generally below $100 per night, even on weekends, before local taxes. Suites top out at about double that. Book direct with the hotel and see more info and pics there (in Spanish) or check rates in English at Booking.com.
Editor Tim Leffel was a guest of Posada de las Minas for one night while researching an article about Mineral de Pozos for another publication, in conjunction with Guanajuato State Tourism. As always, all opinions are his own.