Make no mistake about it - this is a 5 Star hotel!
We stayed at the Casona de la Republica for three days in April, 2014 and will remember our experience for a long time to come.
Queretaro has marvelous shopping, at least in the old section where we were, with many handmade items at lower prices than we'd seen in Merida where we have our winter home. The City is very pretty with its little winding streets that are closed to traffic (it reminded us of the old section of Rome and Spain) and clean. We loved it, and the Casona. The City is chock full of Mexican history, with many interesting places to visit.
We flew Volaris Air from Merida to Mexico City, then got a bus right from the airport to Queretary (about 2.5 hours). The bus station was the best we've ever encountered....it was vast, laid out like an airport, spotlessly clean, and easily navigable with a long line of set rate taxis.
The Casona itself is a masterpiece of renovation. I believe it was a convent attached to the neighbouring church, and it has been beautifully renovated while maintaining the original features throughout. The first thing I noticed about our room upon entering was the aroma. I don't know how they do it but the room smelled fresh and very lightly scented. That's rare in my experience of Mexican hotels where the smell of mustiness often prevails. (That said, Queretaro has, admittedly, a dry climate.) We arrived mid week and stayed on the main floor in the Allende suite and highly recommend it with the office just down the way if you need something. The room has an upstairs that we never even used. Both upstairs and downstairs have large flat screen TV's. We brought our own HDMI cord, hooked up the laptop to the TV and were able to enjoy our US Netflix by using our VPN. The Hotel's Wifi was equal to the task. Really appreciated that, as we don't speak Spanish so Mexican TV is of no use to us. That same evening we had a delicious dinner brought to our room at no extra charge for room service.
The staff and management treated us like family, catering to our every wish. This included having the chef prepare a lovely fish dinner with an original sauce for us, after I dove into a dip with a tortilla chip that nearly burned my mouth out. I ran to the bathroom in tears, it was that spicy. The manager was flabbergasted at my reaction, saying that 2 year olds eat it with no problem. I explained that I wasn't used to it and asked that they warn us next time. He quickly recovered from his astonishment, went into the kitchen and took charge. Out came the chef and asked what he could get for us that would not be spicy, resulting in the delicious dinner described above.
This was just one example of the personal service we received time and again during our three day stay. Staff were happy to fire up the hot tub on the roof for us, and bring us drinks while we enjoyed the sunset and the view of the adjacent church.
Anything we asked for we got, including a tour of the premises when we arrived. Really, if it hadn't been for wanting to explore the City (it is clean, pretty, flat and very walkable) we could have happily never left the hotel.
A few small things I would suggest to the Casona in the way of improving the experience:
- tell the staff not to call at 7:40 a.m. regarding a massage that had been booked for late that day, and then call again three times in succession
- more English speaking staff would be greatly appreciated (this is a Hotel catering primarily to a Mexican clientele, so I imagine they did their best; there was always someone who could be fetched if communication became utterly impossible)
- have the menu in English, with options for dishes that are not spicy
- improve the service in the dining room; the breakfast service was very questionable, with the waiter having to be asked for every single necessity, including cutlery (we were the only ones in the dining room, so it wasn't because they were busy)
- don't have cleaning staff washing the floors in the dining room while it's open and people are eating. Where I come from cleaning is done at night when no one's around.
That said, we would return to this beautiful building, with exemplary service, in a prime location in the old section of historic Queretaro, ANYTIME! We loved the City and we loved the hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Beautiful Casona de la Republica, Hotel Boutique Design, is a unique and different concept of accommodation. It was developed within a space carefully reconstructed, where the original architecture of the house. It was built at the end of the 17th century; its architecture has been duly respected.With a mixture of free styles, modern accents art and Mexican details, a special ambiance of elegance and warmth to please the most demanding tastes was created. ... more less
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