by Antoinette Weil
Somewhere in between three and four hours north of Mexico City’s traffic-filled roads and people-filled squares, sits San Miguel de Allende. Colonial architecture in warm hues and cobblestone streets that wind and slope into steep hills, creating surprise vistas around every corner. It is a welcome retreat from the bustle of the city, but San Miguel has become a destination for visitors separate and all its own. Named the number one city in the world by Travel + Leisure two years in a row, this small respite cannot be mistaken for a secret spot. Still somehow, even with the word out, the town has managed to maintain its character and quaint charm. With much to see, do, and discover it is possible for each visitor to this special place to have a completely unique experience.
I spent my three days in San Miguel de Allende at luxury boutique hotel, Casa Delphine. Opened just last Spring, it may be the new kid in this vibrant tourist—nay, visitor’s—market. But with thoughtful design, its rich and cozy feel, and creative mindset, Casa Delphine is on the fast track to becoming a sought-after destination for creative souls and wanderers looking for more than a place to rest their heads.
Consisting of only five guest suites, Casa Delphine is unmistakably focused on quality over quantity. Chatting with owner Amanda Keidan, an LA-based jewelry designer, it seems apparent that this is a philosophy she lives by. Every element of the hotel, from the furniture, textiles, art and fabrics she hand-picked or commissioned through local artists, to the recommendations compiled from her own favorites in town, to the music you hear in the dining room, were all personal choices; apparitions of Keidan’s own imagination. On the hotel team page, in fact, she describes herself as Designer and Curator, rather than “Owner” of Casa Delphine.
The design is so thoughtful, the details so well mastered that the word “Luxury” almost doesn’t come to mind. The behind-the-scenes toiling, of setting the scene just right, from the subtle cool hue of the panes dividing vintage French doors, the softness of a high-piled rug underfoot, to the custom accent lights and lamp shade patterns, creates an impression to the guest that the space simply is. That it somehow sprung up into perfection all on its own. The luxury of the room melts into the background of the guest experience because nowhere in sight is vanity or opulence. Offered up instead are rich fabrics, warm textures that make the space inviting, a color palette that allows for deep inhales and exhales, and an overall sense of calm. Far from the glitz of luxury hotels showing off, Casa Delphine doesn’t aim to steal the spotlight from its guests. It’s a setting ripe for thinking, but not for worrying. For resting and reenergizing.
I came to San Miguel de Allende alone, as I have been for most of my time in Mexico. Immersing myself in the language and the culture, I’ve been here now for almost three months. The quaint streets of San Miguel are a far cry from the buzzing metropolis that is Mexico City, its multitude of distinct barrios and an urban sprawl that seems never-ending. I enjoyed meandering down its vibrant, colorful streets, popping into art galleries, and savoring each delectable meal. I relished the small crowds in the main square, for even at peak times and over a weekend, it was nothing compared to a stroll through the always-packed CDMX city center. And best of all, within the walls of Casa Delphine I was able to break free of the urge to be constantly on the move, to sit still (for a bit) and to relax completely.
The staff here are an integral part of the experience. Warm, friendly and accommodating, I have a sneaking suspicion they could make anybody—even a nomad like myself—feel at home. And as someone who has traveled often and often alone, this is incredibly important.
Though I felt very safe walking the streets of San Miguel, having a locked front entrance to the hotel and staff available 24 hours to open it, added an extra touch of security—an essential component of setting for any female solo traveler. And there are other cosas (things), so small you might miss them if you weren’t paying attention. Things like the fact that no harsh chemicals are used in the hotel cleaning products. That all the candles you see are hand-poured in a local business that, as a point of operation, chooses to employ disabled individuals. The glass, re-fillable water bottles in each room, fulfilling your needs and discouraging waste all at once. The black washcloth provided, an obvious touch of a woman at the helm, that is perfect for removing makeup. The small book of recommendations that were personally curated by owner, Keidan and include the best places in town. The ones she would actually go to. The long, grand dining table, custom-made for the space, that compels guests to sit together and share discussions over coffee.
This concept of bringing people together was a major goal of Keidan’s in opening Casa Delphine. Far from the in and out mentality of a big-box hotel operation, Keidan says she was more interested in creating community and curating experiences.
She’s been traveling since childhood, beginning with trips to India to see family, which set the course for her curiosity and exploration; seeking far-out of the way places and hidden gems tucked within plain sight. In college, she was a member of Harvard’s Signet Society, an invite-only group that serves as a gathering place for creative thinkers to exchange ideas. And this is just the kind of environment Keidan hopes to foster at Casa Delphine. People coming together, from all corners of the world, to explore, to discuss, to enrich. To have guests leave with more than just photos of a beautiful city in Mexico. The aim, I believe, is that they leave with full hearts and stimulated imaginations.
Working hard towards curating these incredible experiences, Casa Delphine will host a series of wellness retreats in 2020. Focused on design, health and meditation, there is something uplifting, creative and special for anyone looking to take in the best of this charming, and some say magical city.
Beginning January 23, a 6-day, 5-night meditation retreat featuring Brazilian meditation guru Públio invites guests to reprogram the mind, slow down, and live more fully and joyfully. A soulful design retreat in March, with interior designer Christine Martin, delves into inspiration, professional expansion and the intermingling of wellness and design. Wellness and fermentation will be the subject of the final retreat in mid-April. Featuring Samantha Koch, whole recipe developer, author, speaker, and founder of Healthy, Happy, the retreat will provide participants with plant-based recipes, cooking courses for gut health, and an introduction to fermentation for health and wellness.
Each of the retreats, with a maximum of ten participants, include group instruction & workshops along with set free times for exploring San Miguel de Allende. Individual retreat packages also include different resetting activities like trips to the local hot springs, a massage, and delicious, healthy meals for breakfast and lunch served at Casa Delphine’s grand communal table.
For those with a taste for the mystic, the hotel also hosts tarot dinners, the next ones scheduled to take place February 18, and March 9. In addition to personalized professional tarot readings, each event includes a four-course meal and two wine pairings, curated by a prominent executive chef and created with the freshest ingredients. The guest list is capped at 20, allowing for a setting that is social, intimate, and open. A good way, I think, to sum up Casa Delphine.
Should you find yourself in San Miguel de Allende, a stay at Casa Delphine should be on the itinerary. If you already have your lodging booked elsewhere, stop in for weekend brunch to see the spectacular design, or to chat with Keidan or any of her incredible staff about the hotel or San Miguel. But be warned: A visit here will make you re-think leaving.
And if you need an excuse to book your next trip, I think I’ve just given you one.
For more information on upcoming wellness retreats and tarot dinners including prices, dates and how to sign up, visit their Events page or if you are looking for a Boutique Hotel San Miguel de Allende contact Casa Delphine directly.
Antoinette Weil is a Boston-based flight attendant, writer and (uh-oh) Aquarius in constant pursuit of the next big adventure. She has been writing for Literary Traveler since 2012, and has contributed to publications like Cheapflights.com and EdgeMediaNetwork.com. She spends her free time running races, consuming alarming quantities of coffee and eating her way around the globe. She is currently living in Mexico City, Mexico, trying desperately to improve her Spanish and keeping up with her travel blog: A Wheel in the Sky. You can check out more of her work here. Or follow her on Instagram