There are a number of hotels in Guadalajara. We took a stroll through Tlaquepaque and checked out a few of the nice Bed and Breakfast hotels. The hotels in general, were bright, cheerful, and handsome and most appeared family run.
Tlaquepaque – La Villa del Sueno – Photos by Donna Day
At the end of the long drive or flight to Guadalajara, don’t rule out stopping in the near by Tlaquepaque. When we got to Tlaquepaque, we found ourselves not in a village or distinct pueblo but what felt initially more like a suburb. As Guadalajara has grown the small towns around it have been absorbed by the sprawling city, and yet, as we discovered, they have maintained their own local character. We circled the neighborhood—made up primarily of densely packed, wall-to-wall, one, two, or three-story buildings, many of them painted in bright, sunny colors — getting our bearings, and soon found our hotel, La Villa del Sueno, hidden behind a tall yellow wall on Calle Florida. We parked on the narrow cobbled street, slid open a heavy metal door, and entered into an elegantly appointed lobby, where friendly, bilingual employees immediately made us feel at home. After a quick check-in we strolled down a tiled courtyard path accompanied by singing birds and splashing fountains, had a look at the swimming pool, and found our quiet, spacious, air-conditioned guestroom, decorated with Huichol yarn paintings, and furnished with well-made wooden pieces, topped off with a cable-equipped TV perched under the high ceiling.
That tall yellow wall enclosing the hotel property is typical. Several Tlaquepaque boutique hotels are hidden gems behind high walls, with unassuming, even drab street presences. The super-elegant (verging on tacky, I thought, but then I didn’t stay there) 18-room Quinta Don Jose ($80-$100US per night) has a similar nondescript street presence, as does the more playful Casa Armonia, a sweet little five-room bed and breakfast ($100 to $120US) where owner Victor Hugo Cueto Valencia has transformed an enormous, once-featureless wall overhanging the swimming pool into an amusing three-dimensional collage.
Behind other such walls you might catch a glimpse of a ceramics studio, pottery wheels flying, for along with the nearby village of Tonala, Tlaquepaque has long been known for not only selling but also producing wonderful crafts, especially ceramics. (In the region’s native tongue, Nahuatl, tlaquepaque means “place above clay land”.) In any case, slipping through a door carved out of a featureless, minimal wall on a hot empty street, and stepping into an unexpectedly elegant and cool hotel lobby courtyard, with birds, fountains, pools, and artworks, is a wonderfully pleasant experience.
With 20 rooms priced from about $140 to $200US including breakfast (served at a café across the street, in the hotel’s other half) La Villa del Sueno was a great place to hang our hats for a few days. When we arrived it felt a little off the beaten path, being maybe a ten minute walk from the heart of Tlquepaque, but once we’d walked back and forth a couple of times, the Sueno felt very close to “the action.”