While I wait for my Don Julio Reposado with one giant ice cube at La Azotea’s rooftop bar, I watch the ever-growing crowd of patriotic Mexican couples and families and friends gathering in the square below me. I’m in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan state, an absolutely beautiful city with a lot of energy and a lot of people. It’s September 15th, Mexican Independence Day and from the look and feel of it, it’s a celebration more akin to New Years Eve in America than the Fourth of July.
I’m in arguably one of the best locations in the entire country for the upcoming celebrations. Morelia, named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of Mexico’s Top 5 Cities, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My hotel, Los Juaninos, is perfectly located on Morelia’s romantic town square with a cathedral that many consider to be the country’s most beautiful. The hotel also sits directly adjacent to the Governor’s balcony. He will call out the official grito from this very balcony on this very night.
There are Mexican flags everywhere, iridescent bubbles floating through the air and hundreds of vendors selling whistles and balloons and glowsticks. Children frolic, girls in traditional dress screeching and little boys laughing in their tiny mariachi costumes complete with mustaches and sombreros. Mothers, old and young, are dressed intentionally in red, green and white outfits. Hundreds of street food stands, selling everything from hot cakes to french fries string the perimeter of the square. Dancers, musicians and marching bands provide an entertaining preamble to the main event, as Morelia is known for its music culture.
A waiter hands me my tequila and, as expected in this country of excellent service, offers to take it to my room. I politely decline his offer and carry it down myself. Originally an 18th Century hospital, Hotel Los Juaninos was converted to a hotel in 1886. It’s been in the same family for four generations, an energy you can feel in its walls. I walk under its dreamy stone archways and along its mustard yellow walls with an air of royalty.
— Bethany Platanella, Travel & Lifestyle Writer for Zoi Media Group