Imagine climbing up a flight of 165 steep steps on a hilly terrain at 9:30 at night, with 2 big suitcases in an unfamiliar city on the first day of your travel. Now add your wife also in that scene. Does it ruffle you? Do you feel like cursing yourself, forget those from your wife? Or was that the dawn of a new adventure? Welcome to the picturesque city of Guanajuato.
A memorable journey was to unfold at the 165th step. And that was pink colored, La Casa de Dante Hostal, where we had booked our stay. Did we not hear often, to experience something incredible, you need to sweat?
In the Hostal, we were greeted by Mr. Dante, who owned the Hostal along with some credit for those 165 steps. Once inside our private room, my wife was ecstatic. First thing she uttered was ‘this is so colorful and classy’. And you can imagine the anxiety I had till then, whether she will approve our small adventure on those 165 steps or not. But it was worth. Her face suddenly shone with a tinge of phosphorescence. Seeing the room, she exclaimed that it was the best and the most enchanting accommodation she had ever lived. And she was right. I was not at all equivocal with her. Yellow and magenta colors splashed on the wall, the room had a very cozy and homely interior. Paintings of Guanajuato tunnels in vivid colors, Mexican houses of all hues and colors, Cristo Rey perched on the hill and the magnificent streets of Guanajuato adorned the walls like the sparkling crystal. Room had a Mexican flair with the local handicrafts. We just could not stop ourselves praising the room and Hostelworld where we had booked it. Hostal has in total 10 private rooms and 4 dormitories, able to welcome 45 people concurrently. Each room has been decorated in a particular way with handicrafts of the Leon and Guanajuato region. In short, the Hostal is a showcase of paintings, depicting a riot of colors, and details that makes one experience the warmth of Mexico.
In the morning, we were greeted by Irene, (mother of Dantes) and Diana (co-worker) in the kitchen. Kitchen had paintings of Mayan civilization and phrases written in ancient Mayan and Aztec languages. To our astonishment, there was even a small Indian flag on the breakfast table along with the flag from South Korea. That was the unique style of Irene to welcome her guests. On the breakfast table, we met Sohyun Ahn from South Korea, a University student in Michigan. Being her second visit to Guanajuato, she was simply in love with the city, she confessed. Why do you think she loved this city? Read more about things to do in Guanajuato.
It was a sumptuous breakfast with quite a lot of options. As we were vegetarians, we were treated to vegetarian dishes of Mexico – ‘Flautas’, also called ‘taquito’, along with guacamole made of avocado, fruits, juices and bread, served with coffee. On the next day, we relished vegetarian ‘sope made from corn flour. Intent of Irene was to familiarize her guests with traditional Mexican cuisines. In short, it was her way to and preserve and disseminate Mexican flavors and colors that characterized Mexico. She told us that she had a long list of dishes which she prepares – tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, eggs, chilies rellenos, aztec soup, tortillas, and more. I was told that the menu changes every day and she never repeats the same dish in a week. And that was possible due to the meticulous planning and experience of Irene, Hostal’s star chef, in Mexican cuisine.
Apart from her keen sense of hospitality, she also had interest in languages. While having conversation over Indian and Mexican food, she took her small diary and noted the names of Indian dishes, which my wife mentioned. Her diary consisted of words in various languages. She informed us that she loved noting down few words like ‘Welcome’, ‘Hello’ from her guests in their native languages. And precisely, that was how we found these greetings painted on the walls of the Hostal. Does it not sound incredible? And to all my fellow researchers, is that also not the best example of customer delight and loyalty?
Talking briefly about the history of the Hostal, it was started informally 20 years back when the Dantes family had decided to start a tourism business. A couple of unoccupied rooms were rented out for generating extra income. Money earned was used to build more rooms and that’s how the property had grown brick by brick. It had become a guesthouse initially, rented mainly to students and teachers. Some Spanish Schools also used to send their international students to the guesthouse and the business had begun to take shape. However, students and teachers came only in seasons and the rooms were vacant for most part of the year, despite the fact that Guanajuato was full of tourist throughout year. That’s when Dantes family decided to upgrade it to a Hostal. Finally and formally, La Casa de Dante Hostal was born in 2004. Initially, there were apprehensions why travelers would visit an unknown Hostal which was difficult to find. And to make matters worse, guests had to climb 165 steps to reach there. But the word-of-mouth publicity and the internet community helped Hostal reach out to tourists across globe. He seemed to have missed out the most important reason of his success – the exquisite hospitality and the profound customer service.
Dantes loved numismatics. He had a very good collection of coins and currency notes of various countries. It seems that his guests were generous enough to him. And why not? I am sure every guest would depart from that homely place, with a longing to return back some day. He gave us details of the city and the story of tunnels, along with a special recommendation to visit the Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato (Mummies Museum). Read more about the Mummies Museum.
Hostal resembled a museum of artworks. Splendid paintings of Mexican culture including animals, astute usage of colors and various Mexican toys and handicrafts simply swept my wife off her feet. I clicked sufficient photos of her in that ambience. If they were not enough, terrace provided a panoramic view of the kaleidoscopic city. You could relax on the terrace, have drinks and watch the nature from close proximity.
Nestled in the small and quaint but enchanting city of Guanajuato, the Hostal had us in awe all during our stay there. And soon, the 165 steps had become the symbol of an adventure, which led to a homely stay in Mexico. Memories plentiful at 165th step, of course!
Did you also have a similar kind of an experience during any such stay? Where did you feel like home-coming the last time? Share your experiences with us.
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