Sometimes 24 hours is all you can spare, but it can be enough time if you spend it wisely. #DreamDayIn is my series of dawn-till-dusk travel guides. From what I’d eat to where I’d lay my head to rest and everything in between, this is my dream day in…
San Miguel De Allende
Set against a backdrop of sprawling Mexican countryscape, San Miguel De Allende stands out like a Crayola box of coloured buildings and gothic spires. Famed for its old-world charm and immaculately preserved historic centre, you’ll find a convivial city with a thriving arts scene and plenty to see, eat and explore.
7:30am: Wake up at Casa No Name, the former home of Deborah Turbeville which once slept legends such as Jackie Kennedy and Gabrielle Chanel. There’s something wonderfully mysterious about the place, like something out of a storybook. The spacious bedrooms (6 in total) take advantage of the old mansion’s original details. The ‘Naia’ suite even features a glass floor which peers down into 18th-century tunnels that were discovered during hotel renovations.
8am: Start with a slow breakfast at Lavanda Cafe and try one of their 6 different brewing methods for the finest cup of Mexican coffee. (The pour-over is my fave).
9am: Have a wander around Fabrica La Aurora, a former textile factory turned into a multidisciplinary space housing galleries, design stores, artist studios (with classes) and boutiques.
10:30am: As charming as it is, prize yourself away from the centre of town to explore the outskirts with a walk around El Charco del Ingenio. This huge botanical garden overlooks a vast canyon.
12:30pm: Lunchtime. Food is the heartbeat of Mexican culture and San Miguel has become a benchmark in the country’s culinary scene. There is SO much talent here. For simple, straight-up goodness, go to Baja Fish Taquito. Climb all the stairs to the top and sit in the shaded roof terrace. Order a plate of jicama to start, then tilapia ceviche and of course, the fish tacos. Wash it down with an agua fresca or the local beer, Allende brew.
1:30pm: More art? Have a nosey around Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez “El Nigromante” (known locally as Bellas Artes) a beautiful former monastery that was converted into a fine arts school.
3:30pm: Tequila tasting at Casa Dragones, the small-batch tequila company founded by MTV founder Bob Pittman and Mexico’s only female tequila master Bertha Nieves.
4:30pm: Merienda time! Grab a bag of hot churros from one of the many market stalls and enjoy the sweet snack in the central plaza, Jardin Allende, while admiring the gothic church spires of La Parroquia. This neo-Gothic 17th-century church is the jewel in this city’s crown and the most photographed cathedral in Mexico.
5:30pm: Shopping while under the influence can be risky, but there are too many cool concept stores in SMA that you won’t want to miss, like KM33 Official, Casa R Concept Store and Doce18 Concept House. While you’re at it, check out Mercado de Artesanias, for market-prices on unique pottery, hand-embroidered textiles and silver jewellery. (Back in the day, 70% of the world’s silver came from Guanajuato and the nearby Zacatecas)
8pm: Head to Aperi for dinner and have your mind blown by the incredible food of Matteo Salas and homegrown ingredients like huitlacoche (Mexican truffle), maíz blue and buttery frogs legs, which I learnt have been eaten in Mexico since the Aztec days.
10:30pm: Dance it off with some rooftop salsa Cubana at La Chula, but be prepared to be put to shame by the small but dedicated crowd of non-stop dancers. Walk home to Casa No Name with your heels in hand, because if the dancing hasn’t already killed your feet, the city’s cobblestones will…I learned the hard way!