Where to stay: Olé


By Joel Hansen

The first time we traveled to Guadalajara, my wife and I arrived late at night, disheveled by the long bus ride from Puerto Vallarta and in desperate need of some sleep. Asking the taxi driver to bring us to a hotel near the historical zone in downtown Guadalajara he brought us a to a hotel that was run down and dirty, had an air conditioner that leaked water and sounded like a small helicopter. The staff were not interested in our concerns or in bringing us the extra pillow that I requested, three times. It was a shabby, seedy affair with one of the worst breakfasts we have ever experienced.
That hotel was NOT the Hotel Morales. The next day we set out to explore the downtown and after turning the corner onto Calle Ramón Corona we came face to face with the Neocolonial façade of the Hotel Morales looking through to the centre courtyard and the spectacular lobby, my wife and I turned to each other and in unison said, “Let’s stay here.”
Without any further conversation, and without even inquiring about the price of the rooms (affordable) or if there was any availability (thankfully there was) we returned back to the hotel from hell, packed, and were quickly ensconced in the comforts of our new favourite hotel, The Morales.
The Morales dates back to 1888, when it began operating as the La Casa Verea. At the turn of the century it was purchased by the Morales sisters, and later transformed by their nephew, Luis, to the magnificent Morales Hotel. Luis’s passion for the “Toros” led to it being the gathering place for the bullfighters and all the people associated with the bullfighting world. After the fights were over, the bullfighters would be carried on litters by the appreciative audience from the long gone “El Progresso” bullfighting ring, to the Morales, where the parties would last all night.
The demolition of the bullfighting rings, and the decline of the downtown of Guadalajara through the 1950’s and 60’s, brought dark times to the Hotel.
It was closed in 1974, and remained shuttered until 2004 when a Spanish group bought the property and transformed and revitalized this historic gem. With the renaissance that the historical zone of Guadalajara has experienced, the Morales has become the perfect hotel destination, right in the heart of the second largest city in Mexico.
The Morales is one of our favourite properties in all of Mexico, remodeled to exacting old world standards, it has all the modern comforts required for travel today: fast internet connections, comfortable beds, rooftop pools, free secure parking and charming, friendly staff – from the valets, to the front desk staff who remember our names – it is one of the highlights each time we visit Guadalajara.