Between having houseguests, the insane amount of travelling C was doing in May and having a very active social calender in June, I don’t think C and I have spent any quality time together since April!
So when my incredibly lovely friend Kirsty got in touch with me one day when I was feeling particularly burnt-out, and said that she, and her equally lovely boyfriend Fer wanted to treat us to a weekend in Fer’s family hotel as a wedding present – I couldn’t have been more excited or jumped at the opportunity more quickly!
The hotel is situated in a picturesque little Mexican village called Malinalco, around 1.5 hours drive southwest of Mexico City (well, depending on traffic that is!). To be honest, the couple of times I have been to Malinalco I have not done that much exploring, and am not certain if it is the type of village you would drive to from Mexico City for a weekend of rich cultural sight seeing. It is however the type of village you would drive to, to stay in a wonderful little hotel, hang out by the pool, breathe fresh air, ramble along the cobbled street and take in the natural beauty around you! A chance to unwind and relax.
This is exactly what we did. We left a rather wet and miserable Mexico city in the afternoon on Friday and arrived to a slightly drier Malinalco in the evening. As there is no direct highway to Malinalco it means you have to drive on smaller country roads, that meander in and out of various Mexican villages, and I have to say as a passenger it is a really interesting and beautiful drive. There were many moments when I was looking out of my window, that I could imagine driving through the hills of Switzerland (all be it a slightly more grubby version of Switzerland).
What a surprise we received when we arrived at the hotel and was shown to our room – I will let the photos do the talking:
Candles and rose petals everywhere, and a bottle of wine on ice waiting for us!
Initially I was speechless just trying to take it all in. After I managed to compose myself somewhat I was busy snapping photos of the room – as much as I love C, romance is not his forte, and I know never again will I walk into a hotel room strewn with rose petals – I needed to capture this moment!
Hotel Las Cupulas is a small intimate hotel on the outskirts of Malinalco. With 11 rooms divided among 3 houses, all of which look onto the pool and manicured garden. With the intimate nature of the hotel, it is easy to feel as though you are in your own private villa. In fact, C and I felt so inspired – we started sketching out ideas of what our ‘dream house’ would look like one day!
After waking up ridiculously late on Saturday morning we rolled out of bed and rolled onto the pool lounge just outside our room, and that is the furthest we got all day. It was not even very good weather, however we managed to spend entire Saturday, just letting the hours meld together, reading, chatting, napping and reading some more.
Just being outside in the fresh air is such a rarity for me in Mexico, that when I get the opportunity I relish it. I came to the realisation that the lack of personal out door space in Mexico City is the one aspect of my life that I do not enjoy here. At times it drives me slightly stir-crazy, especially on the weekends and I keep hounding C to do ‘something’ with me, ‘anything’ other than just sit in our apartment. My whole life I have always been lucky enough to have direct access to nature but in Mexico, this is the first time that I have to actively seek it out – usually while fighting hordes of people.
According to a quick google search, Malinalco has always been associated with magic or sorcery, apparently this is due to a large part the legend that the area was home to the goddess Malinalxochitl. Quite frustratingly I can’t seem to find any substantial information on the legend, but it vaguely goes along these lines: The God Huitzilopochtli abandoned his sister Malinalxochiltl in the middle of the forest while she was asleep because she was practicing evil witchcraft. When she woke, she was furious at having been abandoned so she gathered all the people loyal to her and marched off to settle in what is now Malinalco. Do you understand what I mean, when I say this is so vague?!
Anyway, due to the villages magical elements, there are quite a few spa’s, yoga retreats and wellness centers that are slowly being set up in and around the village (In some ways Malinalco is a sleepy version of Tepotzlan). I decided that before I left Mexico, I had to try a Temescal, and due to the magical and spiritual nature of Malinalco, this would be the perfect place to try it.
As I understand it, a temescal essentially is a sauna, one that was used in Mexico long before the Spanish arrived, and is continued to be used up until today. Originally it was thought to have spiritual powers, however when the Spanish arrived they squashed that theory quite quickly (it didn’t really fit in with their staunch Catholic beliefs), but it is still widely believed to have healing abilities.
Surprisingly I managed to persuade C to go to the Temescal with me. We went to the Ollinyotl Holistic Centre where we sat in an incredibly hot igloo like building in pitch darkness for almost 2 hours, while a half naked ‘shaman’ splashed herbal water onto the piping hot volcanic and chanted in various languages. Although I enjoyed the heat and the immense sweating that occurred and it was an interesting experience, I must admit I felt rather deflated in regards to the spiritual aspect. I know I had too high expectations, but I was hoping that I was going to feel ‘something’, what I don’t know, but something.
To be fair – I do have a very healthy skepticism and criticism of all religions and when you have a shaman that is meant to conduct this ancient pre-hispanic ritual and he starts pulling out images of Ganesh and chanting ‘om’ that is when I start go get suspicious, and maybe I shut down a bit. However I did enjoy the sauna experience, and who doesn’t like chanting in pitch darkness while shaking a tambourine and sweating like crazy?
After the Temescal, we decided to venture into the village for dinner. I had done a quick TripAdvisor scan on restaurants in Malinalco and Los Placeres was rated as one of the top and as it was right on the zocalo and easy to find, we decided to give it a go – and I am really glad we did.
It has this rather artsy, chic and laid-back vibe which surprised us. It is a type of restaurant I would expect in a town like San Miguell De Allende and not in this sleepy village. Which leads me to believe that there is more to Malinalco than meets the eye! The wait staff were friendly, seemed knowledgeable about the menu and attentive.
The menu was very interesting. It was not your usual run of the mill type meals – but you can tell who ever put it together did so with great care and enthusiasm for locally sourced products. For starters C and I shared the trout Carpaccio which was served with a very Asian inspired flavours such as ginger, sesame oil and chili which really complimented the fatty fish. I just needed something simple for dinner, so essentially ordered beef tacos, where as C was far more adventurous and ordered trout pastor (pastor is a seasoning usually served with pork in tacos) and he was very happy with it. But the highlight for me was their homemade butter – it was amazing, and I would go back just for that (which we did, as we had breakfast there the next day and it didn’t disappoint then either)
We had such a lovely weekend in Malinaco and caught up on some much needed rest and quality time together. Thank you so much Fer and Kirsty for making this happen – it truly was a lovely present!
For those of you who are looking for just a quick get away from D.F and all you really want to do is just relax and be surrounded by beautiful nature, I couldn’t recommend a quick weekend trip to Malinalco and to stay at Hotel Las Cupulas more!