Often outshone in the bright spotlight of destinations like San Miguel de Allende, Puebla is coming into its own as an A-list destination for interior Mexico travel.
The city was founded in 1532 and holds an important place in Mexico's trade history: Merchandise from the Philippines would go through Puebla on its way toward Mexico City. You might also recognize it as the site of the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, commemorated each year as Cinco de Mayo.
The hype surrounding Puebla these days is all about the brand-new Rosewood hotel, the fourth Rosewood in Mexico. The 78-room luxury hotel has been causing quite a stir in the last few weeks as the attention of the media and well-heeled travelers turns toward the charming city tucked at the foot of the looming Popocatepetl volcano.
The rooms draw inspiration from the different architectural styles of Puebla, from Renaissance to Mexican Baroque, and many of the wood, stone, and colorful furnishings have been designed by artisans from Puebla.
Among the highlights of the hotel are the views of the city's golden Temple de San Francisco church, which can be admired through floor-to-ceiling windows.
The kitchens of the three restaurants are overseen by chef Jorge Gonzalez, who comes to the hotel from the Four Seasons Mexico City. The restaurants highlight French, Spanish and Lebanese influences, while the Bar Los Lavaderos evokes a cantina vibe.
Rosewood's signature Sense Spa is in full swing at the hotel, where treatments are inspired by Puebla's culture, with ingredients such as mole, volcanic mud, and Talavera tiles.
Another great, design-forward hotel option is La Purificadora, a city staple for the trendy set. Located in the city center, La Purificadora is housed in a 19th century factory used to purify water. Its slate, stone and wood base is highlighted with pops of bright purple color. The hotel is best known for its rooftop pool, where guests can swim in the shadow of the cathedral. Dining
Puebla is a city for foodies; travelers can find fantastic munchies from rustic street fare to haute cuisine. Augurio is a recently opened restaurant just a few blocks from the cathedral, located in the Quinta Esencia hotel. Start with a cocktail from the tequila/mezcal-heavy menu before tucking into suckling pig in pipian verde sauce or chicharron-crusted prawns.
Unbeknownst to many, there is a strong Lebanese influence in Mexico, and Puebla is one of the cities where this is most prevalent. Puebla is also known for its deep, traditional Mexican roots. Learn about all the influences in Poblano cooking with a street food tour with Soy Poblana. Visit a series of street stalls to try snacks like breaded pork sandwiches, tacos arabes and chalupas.
For the more daring, snack on ant larvae, toasted beetles and other traditional, albeit unusual, snacks at the El Mural de los Poblanos. What to do
While away the weekdays at Paseo Bravo, a narrow plaza marked with a Talavera-tiled church at one end and a cantina at the other. This thoroughfare is flanked with food carts and is the perfect place to people-watch in Puebla.
Absorb Mexican Baroque with a tour of the city's churches. Begin at the Church of Santo Domingo, known for its Capital del Rosario, an elaborately decorated chapel built at the end of the 17th century. Next visit the 18th century temple of San Francisco Acatepec, followed by the church of Santa Maria Tonantzintla.
A day trip to nearby Cholula is a must, known for its pre-Hispanic pyramid at its center. Visit the Talavera de la Reyna's workshop to watch artisans transform black clay into painted pottery. Visit the Mueso Alarca, which shows off contemporary art pieces.
Another fantastic day trip is to Atlixco, a town at the foot of the volcano that is known for its Mercado. Savor the barbacoa, tortillas, morales and fresh cheeses before a stop to the Cerro de San Miguel, a church nestled at the top of a hill.