Posada El Castillo | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Posada El Castillo

Everybody knows that when you visit Xilitla, the place to stay is Posada El Castillo.


Looks like something Edward James might have designed, doesn't it? Well, he must have had some influence: his partner and construction manager for Las Pozas, Plutarco Gastelum, built the mansion with his own hands.

Today, it is owned by Gastelum's daughter, Graciela.


She grew up in this house. She left her hand prints in the concrete when she was eight years old. Today, she operates the house as an inn, using the income to preserve it.

Eccentric features abound. Raised footprints form the entry path.


Honeycomb windows admit light and frame views of the mountains.


A Leonor Fini mural graces an archway.


I arrived without reservations. Graciela was kind enough to fit me in where she could. I was fortunate that for three of my five nights, I was given Room #5—Mariposa.


It is a long, narrow room, a corner room. The east and north walls consist entirely of magnificent cloister windows giving onto sweeping views of the countryside. Perched high above the street on a steep slope, the northern exposure is completely private even with the drapes open.

Mariposa (butterfly) is so named because of the ceiling light fixtures designed and made by Graciela's father.


I have come to think of Mariposa as "my room."

I was not always so lucky to be able to sleep there. On Thursday night there was no room at the inn—it had been booked solid in advance. Gabriela was able to provide me with a bed in an unnamed room. She said that for that night, I could sleep "abajo." Sure enough, a narrow, steep, dark stairway led down into the garage which was filled with exercise equipment and a cistern.

Off the garage was a plain but pleasant room containing two double beds arranged toe-to-toe. This arrangement was fine except for the painting that was hung over one of the beds.


At first, it appeared to be a mother and her daughter looking pensively out of a window. Then came the realization that their faces hold oddly amused expressions.


They are voyeurs! Mom stifles a giggle with her scarf; daughter looks on with undisguised fascination. "Whatcha gonna do next, Big Boy?"

(You won't see this in the Brainerd Holiday Inn.)

Posada El Castillo has a large living room with a video library and an eclectic collection of art objects. It has a game room and a swimming pool—triangular of course. It has a lookout tower reached by climbing a three-story circular stairway, crossing a bridge and ascending a ladder through a trap door. Kids must love this place.

A riot of tropical plants and flowers fills the atrium. Two parrots live here: the one named Bruno talks. The muchachas will make you excellent huevos rancheros in the morning.

The place feels more like a home than a hotel, full of charm and warmth. Just like its hostess. Gabriela is engaging, amenable to conversation and informative. And she's accommodating. She patiently spoke with me in Spanish even though her English is better, gently correcting the worst of my grammar and vocabulary. Great digs, great hostess and free Spanish lessons thrown in.