The Casona Maria Puebla is a boutique hotel in every respect: from its location in the old town to its inventory of just 18 uniquely designed rooms; heck, the property even has its own boutique. But it’s the personal service that stands out most at this recently opened hotel, as I quickly discover.
Hotel details: Address: 3 Oriente 1414 Barrio de Analco, Centro Histórico, Puebla
Website address: www.casonamaria.com
Number of rooms: 18 rooms
Star rating: 4.5 stars
Room number and floor: San Pablito Pahuatlan(Junior Suite), Second floor
Cost of room: From AU$287 per night, or AU$170 per night (Standard room) and US$200 (Deluxe room) – including buffet breakfast for two.
How was the welcome and service? From the affable food and beverage crew, who will gladly talk all-things Puebla, to the welcoming front office, whose staff point me in the direction of the best local attractions, the service at Casona Maria is personal, yet professional. And like any great hotel, the property is also a reflection of what’s best about its locale: in the case of this hotel (and city), that’s its people.
While calling reception from my room, I can almost hear the smiles through the phone, and when I return from a day’s sightseeing, Mariana, Christian et al are on hand to welcome me ‘home’, which is how this place feels, even within 24 hours of arriving.
Room size and features: The majority of rooms at the Casona Maria are named after Puebla’s most well known towns, with each reflecting in its design the place after which it is named. I’m staying in the San Pablito Pahuatlan suite, named for a part of Puebla famous for its handicrafts.
Fittingly, among the highlights of the suite, one of three at the hotel, is the beautiful local artwork, the ceramic lamps and forged chandeliers, beautiful tiled floors, and the comfy king size bed, which features a pillow menu and is decorated with hand-embroidered cushion covers. Of course, there are also the modern conveniences of an LED 32 inch television, clock with iPhone dock, minibar and coffee/tea facilities (with plunger coffee), loads of free toiletries and even an in room Jacuzzi.
Is Wi-Fi readily available and at what cost? Internet access at the hotel is complimentary, but the wifi reception in my suite, which is located in the corner of the second floor, is a little erratic. The good news is, is that there are three hotspots that I can use, which means I’m able to stay connected.
What facilities does the hotel offer? In addition to Santo Tesoro, the boutique shop in which guests can find locally made talavera (famous Poblano pottery), handmade ponchos and sweaters, and other souvenirs, the Casona Maria boasts the Santo Remedio Spa, where guests can enjoy massages, facials and body wraps, as well as free parking, 24-hour reception, a laundry service, daily housekeeping, room service, and a standard check out-time of 1pm.
What dining options are there on site? Puebla is widely considered Mexico’s food capital, so the pressure to perform in the food and beverage department is always on.
Fortunately, in Hugo Martinez Polo, the Casona Maria has an outstanding executive chef, who makes the dishes at the hotel’s Santo Menjurje Restaurant soar. Specializing in local fare (with a modern touch), Hugo mixes standards like tortilla soup and chicken consommé to specialty fare like blue quesadillas, ceviche de pescado, and amaranth flour cake. Then of course there are Hugo’s local dishes that are served with arguably Mexico’s most famous mole, Mole Poblano, which is a chocolate-based savoury sauce. On Saturdays, the hotel even hosts a tasting night, which features a tapas-styled menu offering the very best dishes the city has to offer.
For breakfast, western style ‘Grandma’ oats and pancakes are served alongside an excellent Poblano omelette (stuffed with peppers, corn, zucchini, and tomatoes, and served with guacamole and beans) while other Mexican standards like enchiladas and chilaquiles also appear.
On the top floor of the hotel is the Santo Sereno Bar, which serves up delicious drinks in a terraced setting. Armed with stunning views over the old town of Puebla, the bar is the perfect place to enjoy a cerveza (beer), a Margarita Cadillac or one of the bar’s signature cocktails.
Did you find the location convenient? The Casona Maria is a pretty, ten-minute walk from the Zocalo (main square), to where most of Puebla’s downtown attractions are nearby. Closer still are the wonderful Barrio Del Artista (Puebla’s artists’ district) and El Parian and Tianguis de Analco markets, the latter of which is just a stone’s throw from the hotel.
Would you recommend the hotel for couples, families or groups? Although the hotel can cater for families and small groups, it is best suited to couples, thanks to its charming design, art, fine food, and city views.
What was the best thing about the hotel/resort? For all its offerings, it’s the people that make the Casona Maria great. Most of all, I’ll remember the conversations about Puebla, and the warm smiles that welcomed me at every turn.
And the thing you would most like to change? I would ensure there was better wifi connectivity within every room. It’s sad to say, especially when there’s so much to see and do outside of the hotel, but these days good wifi is a must in any city property. But, to this hotel’s credit, at least it’s free.
Would you stay there again? For the location, for the food, for the friendly service: si.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.
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