Posada de las Minas

Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato, Central Highlands, Mexico Book from

Imaginative inn rising from the ruins of a picturesque mining/ghost town, beginning a new chapter as an artists’ community
From colonial outpost to boom gold and silver mining city to ghost town to laid-back artist colony, Mineral de Pozos (usually called Pozos) has a fascinatingly varied history dating back to the 16th century. A decade ago artists, photographers and visionaries like Texans David and Julie Winslow started moving in, drawn by the town’s mystical soul. Posada de las Minas, built in the 1890s and formerly a dress shop and general mercantile, had, like most of the town, fallen into ruin - abandoned to ghosts for most of the 20th century.

The Winslows, an engineer and interior designer with no previous experience running an inn, bought these few crumbling walls. They stayed true to the architectural, period and cultural details - rough-hewn stone, brick arches, intricate tile-work, hand-made crafts. The flower-filled courtyard is an oasis and imaginative touches - a sink sculpted like a gecko, hand-carved cactus bedposts - give the inn a singular charm rare in more discovered destinations.

Highs

  • Spacious and imaginatively decorated bedrooms and apartments, some with private balconies and fully equipped kitchens
  • Landscaped cactus garden with a whirlpool
  • Friendly, cowboy-style bar and an excellent courtyard restaurant
  • Picture-frame views of the town and the surrounding mountains
  • The town of Pozos, declared a national historical monument, has been tagged "the next San Miguel de Allende" - go now to experience its history, mystery and artistic charm without the crowds

Lows

  • The friendly Mexican staff don’t speak much English, although there's a bilingual office manager
  • There's not much going on in Pozos after dark; if you thrive on nightlife, popular San Miguel de Allende (an hour south) or Guanajuato are better choices
  • There's little for kids to do; no pool and the inn’s DVD player is in the living room, although another is available for use in the rooms
  • Despite its remote location, Pozos can be a little noisy - from the clang of church bells to spontaneous celebratory explosions. Our Saturday breakfast was interrupted by half a dozen sonic blasts made by locals firing off homemade cannons

Best time to go

Although south of the Tropic of Cancer, Pozos has a temperate climate. Thanks to its altitude - more than 2,300m above sea level - days are sunny and pleasant, although afternoon showers are possible during the rainy season (July to September). Winter nights can be cold.

Notable festivals include the Toltequidad Festival in July, which celebrates the diversity of cultures throughout Mexico in art exhibitions and workshops, dance and theatre, games and other scheduled events. Pozos is home to some of Mexico’s best mariachi bands; a highlight is the May Mariachi Festival, drawing bands from all over Mexico. The weekend after is the raucous Feast of San Pedro, which some may wish to avoid.

Our top tips

Pozos is at least 300m higher than San Miguel de Allende. If you’re not used to the altitude, be sure to drink lots of water and take it slow for the first few days.

Come armed with plenty of cash, as there are no banks or ATM machines in Pozos. Some establishments dealing with foreigners accept credit cards, but check first. Local merchants only accept Mexican pesos.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 8
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • Well-behaved children welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Apartment - La Buenavista

Rooms

The 6 spacious bedrooms and 2 apartments with full kitchens showcase a variety of themes - from elegant Victorian to playful vaquero (cowboy). Colors range from bold red pepper to elegant lavender. Plaster fireplaces are framed with delicate paint flourishes and swirling wrought-iron grates; others are rustic hand-cut stone. Some rooms have antique brass and iron four-posters, others have beds made with heavy hand-carved wood. Look for art and sculptures by Pozos artists among the well-chosen antiques and folk art.

The largest room is Cinco Señores (named after a legendary local mining company) - the only room with a kingsize bed, as well as a queensize sleeper sofa. Luna de Miel ('honeymoon') opens onto a large private balcony - a great place to enjoy morning coffee overlooking the domed San Pedro church. Los Vaqueros ('the cowboys') and Las Muñecas ('the dolls') both have twin beds and whimsical décor. A swinging saloon door leads to the toilet/shower area in Los Vaqueros. The doorways and counters in Las Muñecas are kid-scale.

Most rooms have exceptional views of the town or overlook the cactus garden. All are non-smoking and have TVs, filtered drinking water, ceiling fans and underfloor heating.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Filtered drinking water
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Radio
  • Terrace
  • Tv

Eating

Start the day with freshly ground coffee, served in your room on request. Breakfast is made-to-order in the courtyard, the patios, the enclosed dining room or the bar. In addition to fresh-squeezed orange juice and fresh fruit, enjoy homemade banana or pumpkin muffins and bolillos (breakfast rolls) from the bakery around the corner. Hot dishes include huevos rancheros, chilaquiles (homemade blue corn tortillas cooked in red or green chile sauce) and American-style wholewheat pancakes.

Lunch and dinner are served from noon to 9pm. The daily menu includes a diverse selection of Mexican and American starters, soups, salads and sandwiches. Daily specials may include fresh fish, steak with French fries and chicken enchiladas with mole (a sauce made with chillies and dark chocolate). I was surprised to find homemade Key lime pie along with flan on the dessert menu.

The dark, cosy Cantina Mina Bar is a tribute to Pozo’s mining heritage. A sepia-toned mural runs the length of the room, leather-backed chairs have cowhide seats, and antique bolt-action rifles, spurs and a canteen hang from the wall. In addition to the full gamut of Mexican beers and premium liquors, you can choose from more than 30 types of tequila, including several from small speciality tequilerias. There's also a nice selection of Mexican, Spanish and Chilean wines.

There are 4 other restaurants in town serving Mexican and American fare if you fancy eating out.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Paint or photograph pastel sunrises over Pozos’ ruins and the surrounding landscape, relax with a book on a patio or private balcony, soak in the whirlpool, and enjoy a massage or facial in your room

  • Browse through images of Mexico’s people, culture and landscapes taken by David Winslow, along with jewellery and crafts on display in the living room

  • Explore Pozos. The ruins of the town’s former glory are within easy walking distance - you'll come across the shell of a half-finished church, abandoned during the turmoil of the Revolution years, and the town’s former bullring, now being restored to host concerts and cultural events. Stroll among opulent tombs and mausoleums in El Panteon, the walled cemetery at the southern end of town, where you’ll also find the ruins of the former train station on Calle La Via

  • Tour ghost mines. From 1576 to 1926, more than 1.2 million tons of ore were extracted from more than 300 mines in the hills surrounding the town. You can visit Santa Brigida, the town’s first mine with its landmark pyramid-shaped smelting ovens, or San Rafael, where you can rappel more than 30m into the mine. Since there are no self-guided paths or English-language signage around the overgrown mine pits and shafts, hiring a guide is a must

  • Go gallery-hopping. Well-known artists are making Pozos a destination for serious art buyers - you can watch them at work and buy original oils, contemporary sculpture, folk art, pottery and jewellery. Pozos artisans are particularly renowned for their handmade replicas of pre-Hispanic musical instruments - at Camino de Piedro on Plaza Zaragoza, Marco Sanchez will give you an impromptu concert on a wide array of wooden flutes, xylophone-style instruments and drums made of stretched hides

  • Head off hiking, biking or horse-riding. Rent a 21-speed mountain bike with dual shocks to cushion your ride over cobblestone streets and bumpy terrain (see Rates). A local company rents horses for guided trail rides

  • Attend a retreat. Collectiva de Pozos offers week-long retreats in local culture, Mexican cooking, art and writing. Photographers and painters will appreciate the dimensions and texture of crumbling walls and the changing quality of the light throughout the day

  • Purify yourself in a temazcal (the native Mexican sweat lodge) - it's a centuries-old cleansing ritual with indigenous music

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Cooking classes
  • Creative writing
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Language courses
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being

Kids

Well-behaved children are welcome, with a discount for those aged from 3 to 10 years. The rooms are child-friendly, with extra beds and fun doll and cowboy themes, but there are no particular facilities for kids.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly: Apartment - La Buenavista

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