Every once in a while you stumble upon a place that epitomizes everything you imagine it to be. For me, Guadalajara was exactly that. As a large city and slightly out of the way, Guadalajara tends to get overlooked by most people seeking to explore Mexico. However scratching just beneath the surface, you’ll find a city rich in history and warm in hospitality.
Why visit Guadalajara
When you think of Mexico, a few things are likely to come to mind. Mariachi music, tequila perhaps? Well that all started in state of Jalisco, home to Guadalajara. Even historical and cultural pillars like the revolutionary priest Hidalgo and famed muralist Orozco once called this city home. As we began peeling back the layers of this highly underrated city, we couldn’t help but be moved and inspired by all we learned.
It was an after thought to find ourselves in Guadalajara, but a decision we’ll never regret. To put it mildly, Guadalajara doesn’t seem to get much press, but believe me, it should. Don’t get me wrong, there is much to see in Mexico, and who couldn’t use a relaxing coastal getaway? But to simply skim across the pristine beaches without diving deep inland would be doing yourself and Mexico a disservice.
Guadalajara is the perfect jump off point to explore Jalisco’s rich history while delving into the burgeoning food scene and vibrant night life of the city.
When it comes to culture, Guadalajara will keep your itinerary packed from start to finish should you allow for it. Churches and museums dedicated to famed artists and revolutionaries line public squares adorned with fountains, statues, and murals dedicated to the struggles Mexico’s forefathers endured and overcame at the hands of the Spanish.
Where to stay
Make your way directly to La Perla. This Pearl of Guadalajara is nestled in the safe and youthful neighbourhood of Colonia Americana, mere yards from lively Chapultapec and at the heart of the historical centre. Conveniently tucked around the corner from the main avenida, you can comfortably walk to local eateries, fine dining establishments and watering holes packed with college students unwinding after a day of studies.
The location is great, but that’s far from the whole story. Upon arrival, in fact from first email contact, you’ll be warmly greeted by Lars, an American Expat. Lars is part of a team that has transformed this mansion, formerly owned by famed Mexican actress Guillermina Grin, into one of the loveliest hospitality experiences we’ve had anywhere.
Once you make your way upstairs to one of the large and immaculately decorated rooms, you’ll be keen to fall flat onto your back disappearing into the duvet and pillows. Fight the urge, for there is much more yet to do. We dropped off our bags, instantly got comfy and headed down to chat. We knew right away we were in good hands.
Lars and Memo shared all the best to see and do in the immediate area and helped us map out our week. Adrian spent a couple of hours on our first morning showing us around the main sites in the downtown area. Not only did this give us a great starting point for navigating ourselves around, but he had some really interesting information and history to share about the city too.
Exploring Guadalajara can be daunting, especially when you only have a few days to see it all. But with the guidance of the team, we felt very comfortable roaming the area and discovering our own hidden gems, returning excited and exhausted. Early evenings were spent sharing stories with Lars, who invited us to join him for a glass of wine – a lovely way to make you feel at home after a tiring day of exploring.
Each room is beautifully decorated with a comfort and charm all of it’s own with attention to detail and plush fabrics everywhere. The breakfast at La Perla is perfect, a lovely selection of pastries, fresh fruit and yogurt. Sipping coffee while catching up with Lars, the team, and guests while planning the day ahead was a great way to begin the day.
Guadalajara remains largely undiscovered by tourists, and thus the charm is largely retained. As the second largest city in Mexico, you could spend weeks and still only scratch the surface. Whether you’re a textile and design junkie keen to pick out the perfect piece to tie a room together, a creative writer seeking some peace and inspiration, or simply a traveller looking to delve a little deeper into Mexico – Guadalajara is the place.