I am not a big fan of bed and breakfasts. The forced intimacy, the preponderance of armchair doilies and “adorable” toilet roll covers, the fact that the bed and the breakfast both invariably suffer…it all combines to create awkwardness and disappointment. Imagine my surprise when I walk into Villa Ganz  in Guadalajara. Yes, it felt like walking into someone’s house—but what a house!

The restored 20th century mansion greets you with a sweeping staircase and sunlight washing across the tiled floor through vast windows and doors at the far end of the first floor.

There’s romance. There’s class. There’s not a doilie in sight! This is my kind of bed and breakfast and that’s thanks to co-owner Sally Rangel who knew she wanted to create a bed and breakfast, just not that kind of bed and breakfast.

My room is one of the most private. Located up its own set of stairs off a lush garden it has a private outdoor sitting area with a couch, tables and copious quantities of candles.  Inside, the room is a bit dark due to very small windows. However, a skylight over the bathroom sink adds illumination and also creates very flattering light at the mirror over the sink.  The shower is outfitted with a regular shower head as well as a rain shower head with a charmingly old-school chain pull.

Sally has poured her heart into the look and feel of Villa Ganz, amassing an impressive collection of antiques and art pieces that give each of the 10 suites their own distinct personality and noteworthy surprises can be found behind every door. There’s a delicately scalloped sink, a vaulted brick ceiling, an antique claw foot tub, hand painted tile. Not to be missed is the Grand Master suite with its own indoor hammock hung in front of floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the garden. Even smaller rooms on the first floor that open directly onto the garden feel spacious and private.

Filled with thriving lawns, trees, flowers and vines the sprawling garden is so established it  seems to have been there as long as the mansion itself. The outdoor areas at Villa Ganz are used day and night. Continental breakfast is served on tables on and around the lawn and nightly wine and snacks are best enjoyed in the covered outdoor sitting area, complete with a massive fireplace for chilly evenings—also an excellent location for a romantic dinner.

Villa Ganz is located near downtown Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, which is currently gearing up and sprucing up in preparation to host the Pam American Games in 2011. Guadalajara claims to be the birthplace of both charreada (Mexican rodeo which was around long before the US version) and mariachi music. But for my money, the city’s greatest contribution is a ubiquitous dish called a torta ahogada—literally “swimming sandwich.”

Made by filling a fresh baked roll with cubes of roast pork then covering it in sweet homemade tomato sauce (not unlike thin tomato soup) plus as much hot sauce as you can handle, this is a must eat. (If the charms of Guadalajara tempt you to stay longer, the owners of Villa Ganz also own two other properties with apartment-like accommodations for longer, even homier stays.)

Rates start at $200 including a continental breakfast and wine and snacks in the evening. Reserve two nights or more at Villa Ganz through Mexico Boutique Hotels and a full breakfast will be included.

Villa Ganz
1739 López Cotilla
Guadalajara, Jalisco


Our review of this boutique hotel was originally published by iTraveliShop

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