The largest upscale hotel in San Miguel de Allende is also one of its best. The Live Aqua Urban Resort property is a far cry from the colonial bed-and-breakfasts that make up so much of the inventory near the historic center. This is an artistic, chic design hotel with multiple restaurants, bars, a big swimming pool, and a full spa.

Live Aqua San Miguel pool and hammocks

If you’ve ever been to a Fiesta Americana or Fiesta Inn located in Mexico, you’ve seen portions of the country’s largest domestic hotel chain. When it comes to their top-tier luxury offerings though, the “Live Aqua” name means something special, whether that’s at the beach in Cancun or in their “Urban Resort” in San Miguel de Allende.

It’s not easy to build and design a hotel that appeals to urban Mexico City hipsters, wedding parties, and foreign tourists looking for a sense of place, but the largest upscale hotel in San Miguel managed to pull it off with this property. That’s partly due to having plenty of space to work with since it’s not smack in the middle of centro. This “urban resort” is about a 15-minute walk downhill to the main plaza, but it’s removed enough to be a quiet retreat with expansive outdoor spaces. Come take a tour!

Live Aqua is the luxury brand of Grupo Posadas, but there’s no cookie-cutter corporate ethos in place here. The award-winning design has a personality all its own, with a pleasing mix of modern design mixed with shout-outs to the Spanish Colonial influence in this UNESCO World Heritage city. There are prominent sculptures from names like Javier Marin and Rodrigo Garagarza. The design aesthetic is more akin to what you find at long-established Hotel Matilda than the next-largest property in town, the Rosewood.

This is especially true in the suites, which are each one giant spacious room with sitting area, the bathroom area just separated by glass (except for a door for the WC, thankfully). Inside the bath, however, are Spanish tiles that add some color and a sense of place. You’ll be set for entertainment: there’s a turntable with a selection of albums, a Bluetooth speaker, and a large TV fitted with Chromecast so you can sync up your phone and log into your streaming subscriptions.

Live Aqua Urban Resort room SMA

A local correspondent who lives in the city full-time reviewed this Live Aqua soon after it opened and not a lot has changed since then apart from the TV upgrades, a parking garage getting finished, and more distancing in place at dining outlets due to current safety measures. It’s also now part of Preferred Hotels. It often takes a new hotel a while to find its footing and get staffers on the same page though, so I checked in recently to see how things were coming along a few years later.

I was only there one night, so I didn’t get to try out the Spice Market Asian restaurant, but I did have an excellent dinner and breakfast in the courtyard of Zibu Allende, a fusion Asian-Mexican spot with a menu designed by one of Mexico’s best-known chefs. It’s beautiful inside and out, with lamps and string lights adding a romantic atmosphere in the evenings. The Cigar Bar is an inviting space for an after-dinner drink, with a clubby indoor space and an outdoor one overlooking the terrace and pool area.

swimming pool lounge chair Live Aqua San MiguelThe swimming pool here is a long, rectangular heated one with lounge chairs and hammocks adjoining, then desert landscaping and a dam to look at beyond. There are enough lounge chairs to accommodate most guests who want one unless the place is packed out and there’s more seating by the inviting poolside bar.

The spa here is extensive and relaxing, with treatment rooms for singles and couples, plus a couple of relaxation rooms–one with oxygen treatments. I got all my kinks worked out by the talented massage therapist and felt like a new man.

Other amenities on site include a boutique with quality Mexican items, a bakery/gourmet stand, meeting facilities, a gym, and several other bars.

In a city dominated by small hotels with limited facilities, this Live Aqua measures up well with the Rosewood and Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada among the best hotels in San Miguel. See more photos and our full review of Live Aqua Urban Resort.