Despite its charming colonial architecture, revered culinary traditions, and rich cultural heritage, Puebla has long been considered a mere side trip from bustling Mexico City. That is, until the recent openings of two alluring luxury hotels put the city on the Mexico-bound traveler’s map.
Even after a devastating earthquake rocked the city in September 2017, Puebla shows no signs of relinquishing its newfound recognition. With a recovery effort well underway, and hotels and restaurants long since reopened, there’s no better way to support Puebla now than by visiting. Read on for more about the city’s newest luxury properties—plus a few must-hit spots on your trip.
When the Rosewood Puebla opened in May 2017, it ushered in a new level of luxury for the city. Housed in three painstakingly restored historic buildings, its 78 residential-style rooms are stunners, featuring hand-carved furniture, Talavera tile floors, and bathrooms most people only dream about. Guests can sip from a selection of 30 mezcals in the Los Lavaderos bar and book locally inspired spa treatments, such as a body wrap that incorporates ash and mud from nearby volcanoes.
Just blocks from the zocalo, or main square, Hotel Cartesiano debuted in October 2017. Its 78 chic rooms and suites are spread among three historic structures—two of which date back to the 1500s. (Yes, the stone walls throughout the buildings are original.) Also on site: a lush garden, an intimate spa, and a rooftop pool with comfy loungers and killer views.
Puebla is one of three Mexican states that claim to be the birthplace of the rich, chili-based sauce known as mole. Reserve a table in the courtyard at El Mural de los Poblanos—named for its colorful mural of characters from local history—where chef Liz Galicia turns out five versions of mole, including the classic poblano, named for the city itself and made with more than a dozen ingredients.
The stark white concrete exterior of the new International Museum of the Baroque, designed by Toyo Ito, a Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, contrasts with the opulence and ornamentation of the treasures inside. Modern features—including undulating walls, a curving staircase, and circular skylights—set the stage for exhibits that highlight the exuberant architecture, visual arts, and music of the 17th and 18th centuries.
If you spring for just one souvenir, make it a piece of Talavera pottery, a craft that dates to the 16th century in the state of Puebla. Find it at Talavera de la Reyna, in the town of Cholula. Here, Angélica Moreno and her team incorporate zigzags, polka dots, and other graphic patterns (as well as traditional floral motifs) into dishware, vases, and teapots.