Guadalajara is Mexico’s second-largest city, but it doesn’t pull in a whole lot of vacationing tourists. Those that do come usually make it to Tlaquepaque at some point. Hard to say, but easy to love, this pedestrian-friendly area was once a separate town but is now a Guadalajara neighborhood. It has become a prime shopping area for quality items made in the area, whether that’s bronze sculptures from Sergio Bustamante or fantastic light fixtures fit for a grand Mexican mansion. In between the shopping spots are fine restaurants in gorgeous courtyards.
Villa del Ensueño is the largest hotel in the area, which isn’t saying much in this land of B&Bs: it has 20 rooms and suites total. The design and color scheme are very traditional Mexican, but this is actually a custom build on the edge of town rather than a historic structure right in the thick of things. That’s a plus when it comes to facilities. There’s a large swimming pool big enough for laps, with lounge chairs all around. Then there’s a second pool that is open in the hottest months across the street, where there’s also a complimentary secure parking area.
The bar and restaurant area are next to the pool, in a spacious covered outdoor area that takes advantage of the temperate climate you find all year here. Typical hearty breakfasts are included (with eggs al gusto—as you like) next to a grand mural on one wall. Plants and artwork adorn the walkways and walls, presenting a new visual surprise around each corner.
Rooms here are full of character and color, making you really feel like you’re in the land of tequila and mariachi music. They range from standards with king beds and wall-mounted TVs to eight junior suites that are definitely worth the upgrade. Some of these come with their own furnished terrace area that can almost double the space and a few have a kitchenette and/or a Jacuzzi tub.
All the rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi, air conditioning, ceiling fans, and an array of toiletries. This is not a luxury hotel, so you’ll deal with no-theft hangers and very average mattresses, but the baths are spacious. They have talavera sinks, plenty of counter space, and a tub.
Staffers are attentive and the front desk ones speak English. They can arrange local excursions or guides for exploring the area.
There’s a gallery boutique on site, a convenience store and some local restaurants at the end of the block. Then Tlaquepaque offers a wealth of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, snack carts, and what may be the best ice cream shop in the country: Chapalita.
Book direct at the website for La Villa del Ensueño, where rates run roughly $120 to $160 per night including a full breakfast and a welcome cocktail. Or go through the Haciendas & Casonas of Jalisco group, which represents interesting places to stay all over the state. Their listing for Villa del Ensueño has more info in English than the hotel’s site.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was a guest of the hotel while traveling through the state with Haciendas & Casonas of Jalisco.