While “castle” may be a bit of a stretch for this inn located in San Luis Potosi state of Mexico, El Castillo is certainly a building like no other in the region. Built by the eccentric, lavishly wealthy English noble Edward James, it’s the natural place to stay for anyone visiting James’ surrealistic sculpture garden of Las Pozas in Xilitla, San Luis Potosi.
The experience starts with pavers in the shape of feet coming in from the entrance gate. Columns in strange shapes and windows that play off patterns in the sculptures in the nearby park frame otherwise sensible spaces that once served as rooms for the owner, his main employee, and the family. They are now guest rooms on several floors, joined by a kitchen serving breakfast. For lounging around there is a library room and a large game room. The latter has some of the wooden molds custom made to form the whimsical concrete shapes and columns in the park. (See a few photos of bizarre Las Pozas here.)
Various decks and an outdoor swimming pool add some space to spread out. You might want to collapse in a lounge chair after strolling this hilly town where clouds are often grazing the tops of buildings. But the town square is just a block away.
All the rooms are a bit different and vary a lot in size and view. The best room by far is the Gran Vista Suite, which has panoramic views of the mountains surrounding the town and is like a large studio apartment, with two beds and an outdoor living room. It is surrounded by a terrace and has a spacious bath with sunken tub. Others are smaller and come in various configurations, all being a queen or two doubles except for the children’s room that adjoins a regular one to make a family suite.
There’s no parking at the inn itself, but a public lot is a block away if you have rented a car. Several good restaurants and bars are a block away and the Las Pozas sculpture garden in the jungle is about five minutes away by car or taxi (admission under $5).
One of Mexico’s most interesting drives is through the Sierra Gorda mountains and biosphere to here, through Queretaro state. Along the way are interesting Jesuit missions built in five towns along and just off of the main highway.
Rates at the inn are $70 to $110 double, not including breakfast, and must be paid in cash. For more information, see the El Castillo website and check out more photos and a story on Las Pozas in Xilitla here.
Story and photos by Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations and Travel Writing 2.0.