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By: Carlos Dragonné y Elsie Méndez
For this journey, begin by closing your eyes for a moment and imagine the tranquility that we all long for in the midst of the daily whirlwind. At the end of each day there are those who arrive at home and reach that tranquility just by watching TV or opening a bottle of wine. Outside, the whirlwind of noise and cars surrounds the tide of people invading the sidewalks. While there are those few who achieve that calmness, we all know that something is missing while we look through our windows or balconies at the imposing buildings upon buildings of our respective concrete jungles. So come and close your eyes for a moment. Then, accompany me to a city built with pink quarry, full of majestic buildings, mansions and ranches, all ready to seduce us. Morelia opens the doors to us and the Los Juaninos Hotel welcomes us with the grandeur of its construction; an old Episcopal Palace built in the 17th century and converted into one of the most beautiful Boutique Hotels in the country.
Even entering through the huge wooden door of the hotel is in itself an experience, taking us to discover a large space full of art and history. Cataloged by the INAH and restored in 1988, the property is part of the Historic Center of the city of Morelia and is therefore a fundamental piece recognized by UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity. With an unbeatable location, just in front of the central square where the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord of Morelia, one can see the four points of the capital right from the hotel. The Hotel Los Juaninos is unlike others in its class because it respects its original construction and adapts the its function of a hotel to the magnificent building that it occupies. And this is where the magic begins to take effect…
Even before reaching the rooms, the place has already managed to erase time, submerging us in more than 300 years of its history. Large staircases take us to the second floor and to its 30 different rooms. These spaces were once episcopal rooms and then part of the Royal Hospital of San Juan de Dios, after the donation made by Bishop Juan Ortega and Montañés to the order of Los Juaninos in the 18th century. They have been delicately decorated with impeccable taste, respecting the viceregal architecture, giving a feeling of perpetual elegance. The rooms have an incomparable quality, a simplicity that contrasts with the architectural style, a simple touch like a small table for two next to the balcony, that considerably increases the experience.
And here it is worth mentioning that the detail that several of the rooms in this place have, as well as the terrace (where La Azotea Restaurant is located and which we will talk about later). Standing in the room, in a slow and deliberate way to maintain the necessary suspense, I went to the balcony door and, after unhinging the iron latches that kept the door closed, I opened it to discover an impactful, spectacular view of the Cathedral.
I do not know how long we were on the balcony watching the comings and goings of the Morelians and the Madero Avenue. The view alone did not only not disappoint our expectations, but far exceeded our wildest imagination. Back in the room, we observed how the space offers rest and relaxation. There was an understanding that, here, apparently, there is an opportunity to find that peace that we all long for.
The amenities of the place reflect the hostel’s knowledge of the guests’ needs. The bed, it must be said, has one serious problem– once you lie down, the softness of the white sheets and the comfort of the mattress make it a difficult task to want to get up again and continue with the activities scheduled in the city. Aside from that, the bed is perfect. Having overcome the temptation to protect ourselves from everything, and to close our eyes and sleep, we left the room to visit the surrounding area and get to know in detail the other available rooms, among which the Superior Suites stand out as a true example of everything one can ask for. In a place that is part of the Boutique Hotels of Mexico, tubs with bronze claws, large living rooms, huge carved wooden furniture, balconies and lavish windows decorate the different rooms that have the peculiarity that none is identical to the other; you will always find a unique detail that allows you to live the experience of Los Juaninos again and again to enjoy something totally new.
The third floor of the building houses the Restaurant La Azotea and, in the background, the Los Juaninos Bar. The restaurant is cozy and has a menu that explores the cuisine of Michoacan, offering dishes such as the one and only Corundas, or a Michoacan Caldo that I would eat every day if I lived here. In addition, the menu also offers an interpretation of fusion food with a base and inspiration in the diverse cuisine of Mexico. One of its star dishes is the Duck Enchiladas. There are a series of tables placed on the terrace that runs the length of the whole building and offers diners the the view of the entire Historic Center of the city.
The Los Juaninos Bar offers the customer an important variety of cocktails and drinks with a modern atmosphere that rejuvenates the place in an important way and that, contrary to what we thought when we first walked in, does not clash despite its visual contrast. The bar area is the star of all of the reconstruction and adaptation to the building. A table on the terrace, almost in the furthest corner of the building, stands as a witness to the hours we spent here – which, I warn, pass like water between your fingers. It is as if you are sat right on the Madero Avenue. We enjoy the view that extends past the scope of Morelia, looking upon its long history, despite the cars that circulate beneath us, and the inevitable touches of modernity of banks, convenience stores, traffic lights and the urbanization that the time has imposed upon it. It seemed to make fun of these elements with its paint of nostalgia while we looked over the horizon as we enjoyed what would be our first charanda of the trip.
As for the staff, Los Juaninos raises its voice to say that, if all of the above has not been enough to satisfy your experience or tempted you to pick up the phone and make another reservation for the next day, here you have that personalized attention that seems to have been lost in the hotel world. Many times, while touring hotels in our destinations, the service seems to sacrifice clarity for efficiency and turns staff into result machines that, while fulfilling their duties, they too often forget that this industry was born from and feeds on human contact. There is a need for sensitivity and the satisfaction the guests. This is the standard of Los Juaninos: the warmth of its people that, in addition to the correct functioning, always offer a smile, a capacity to make the guest feel welcome and sheltered in each of the areas, from the staff who offer Valet Parking to the restaurant waiters and bartenders. This, evidently, is proof of the extraordinary work that Lorena Morales, the general manager, is doing to preserve the fundamental points of attention to tourists, as well as Pablo Güedes, who was always awaiting comments and suggestions that, as guests, we had to share about this experience that brought us to Morelia on a business trip that, at every moment within Los Juaninos, seemed much closer to a trip absolutely dedicated to pleasure.
From the first day, leaning in silent contemplation in front of that wide open balcony, it felt like something was changing. Something that seemed to break through without a trace and that, finally, on the last night, revealed itself. Again, observing the Cathedral while soft music played in the room and we said goodbye to the beauty in front of us, we discovered that Los Juaninos gave us a state of peace in every second that, until a few days ago, we were looking for incessantly in the middle of the vertigo of our metropolis. There, listening, we discovered the silence that would be necessary to return with to our city of origin and that, framed by the fullness of beauty, art, architecture and service of Los Juaninos, completed that space of the puzzle. But we also knew that even after we returned home and opened that bottle of wine while our eyes fixed upon on the buildings upon buildings of our concrete jungle, our newly acquired silence would be enough to know that peace is achievable. You only need to look in the right place.Begin your own adventure with this hotel by booking a reservation here Hotel Boutique Los Juaninos
Don’t forget to read about our recommendations and the history of the beautiful city of Morelia: