Accolade puts Guanajuato state in spotlight

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San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato.
San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato.
San Miguel de Allende was named Travel + Leisure's No. 1 destination in the world this year. And as a result, the world's attention has now been turned to both the stunning colonial city as well as the surrounding areas in the state of Guanajuato. With such accolades comes a bolstered interest in travel to the destination and beyond. Here are a few of the newest hotels and lesser-traveled experiences to take advantage of on your next visit.


Hotels

• L'otel: This elegant and chic boutique hotel opened its doors late last year atop the Doce-18 Concept House in San Miguel. The entire venue lives within a remodeled 18th century home and comprises restaurants, shopping boutiques and art galleries, with luxury amenities including a rooftop pool and spa.

Traditional King rooms come with their own balconies. The room to beat at this hotel is the Owner's Suite, which has a fireplace, rooftop garden with a whirlpool and an outdoor tub secluded in a courtyard. Rooms start at $295 per night.

• Casa 1810 Hotel Boutique:
This intimate, 14-room hotel is less than a year old and sits in a historical building in San Miguel's downtown area.

The hotel makes use of its prime address with a rooftop Terrace Bar with views of the city's iconic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel church.

The most affordable rooms at the hotel are the Boutique Studios, which start at $250 per night. The most lavish accommodation is the Romantic Suite, which at $527 a night includes a sunken tub for two, fireplaces and views of the San Francisco cathedral.

Experiences

October is just around the corner, and with that comes the Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato City. Named for Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of "Don Quixote," the festival takes place during all four weeks of October and pulls in international artists to share their works, from theater and opera to dance, film, literature and more.

Mexico celebrates its Independence Day on Sept. 16, but travelers to Guanajuato can learn about the holiday year-round. Dolores Hidalgo, a small town just outside of San Miguel de Allende, is known as the cradle of independence because it was from here that Miguel Hidalgo rallied Mexico to rebel against Spanish rule.

Visit the Hidalgo House Museum, a late-18th century mansion that was once home to the father of Mexican independence himself. Travelers can also visit the House of Abasolo, which is near the main square and is where the national hero was born.

San Jose Iturbide in the state of Guanajuato has been designated a Magic Town by Mexico's tourism board in recognition of its cultural significance. Here travelers can take in the historical architecture, best exemplified by the Parish of San Jose Iturbide with its neoclassical columns and domes. Inside the church is just as impressive with its original pulpit, decorated with red details and surrounded by frescoes. Ecotourism and adventure travel is prominent in El Peral, a protected ecological area near San Jose Iturbide. Meander suspension bridges, rappel down stone walls or barrel through the forest on an ATV. For something a little tamer, there are also spas, pools, hiking trails and boat sailing around the lake.

For those staying in San Miguel de Allende who want a dose of pre-Hispanic culture, consider a day trip to the Pyramids Canada de la Virgen. This was an important social center for the Toltec people. The buildings not to miss here are the Casa de los Trece Cielos, which was an observatory in its heyday where the Toltecs studied the sun, moon and planets as well as the Templo Rojo, which is festooned with red-and-black abstract murals.

Come November, the skies above Leon will burst with color during the Hot Air Balloon Festival, which takes place annually in Metropolitan Park. In addition to the balloons, many of which come from Spain, France, Italy, Russia and Turkey, there are fireworks displays, a variety of concerts and DJ performances.

Finally, get in touch with religion at Celaya, often known as the Golden Gate of the Bajio. This town in Guanajuato is known for its religious tourism, as it is packed with monasteries, temples and monuments. Explore the Del Carmen Temple for its murals and paintings or cross the Plaza de Armas to admire its murals that reflect the historical heroes of Mexico. Be sure to visit the cemetery for its Museum of the Mummies. Ask about a nighttime tour of the museum, which brings a spooky perspective to the history of the town. 
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