Tequila and mariachi music run through the veins of Guadalajara, the vivacious capital of Jalisco state – so expect a fun time. Mexico’s second-largest city gave rise to sombreros and charreadas (rodeos) and today mixes colonial-era architecture with keen cosmopolitan flair. For peso-watching travellers, there are also affordable hotels and hostels, where character doesn’t come at a cost.
The Blue Pepper Hostel is a friendly favourite in Guadalajara. The cobalt blue-painted building, designed by renowned architect Miguel Aldana Mijares, has graphic art, neon signs and hanging plants in the communal areas. There are outdoor courtyards with pub-style benches and table football, and a bar that sells burgers, buffalo wings and Mexican morsels. Try the hostel’s tequila tour or jump onto one of the electric scooters parked outside to explore the city (though, probably don’t combine the two).
One of the best budget hotels in the city, the Perla Central has suites and rooms spread out over seven floors, with corridors that showcase murals (wall-mounted bikes; lace-hung trainers) and illustrations by young local creative Gibran Julian. The set up is slick: a book-lined lobby; an industrial-style restaurant; a gym with an adjoining outdoor terrace; and even branded bath products.
This adults-only hotel puts an emphasis on relaxing rooms, designed by local artists, that deliver for an over-18 crowd.The décor is sleek and minimal, with a few creative touches from the likes of Alvaro Cuevas, Patricia Fornos and more. The mural-lined pool is kept at a balmy 28-30 degrees, there’s a colourful terrace and Restaurant Ananás serves food from desayuno to dinner.
This two-stop hostel brand has two destinations in town that are a clear hit with guests: Centro and Chapultepec. It’s even been voted “Best hostel in Mexico”, don’t you know… In Chapultepec, a leafy area known for the Chapultepec Forest and Jardín Botánico, there’s a garden kitted out with a grill, hammocks and table football. At Centro, the building is a 1910 colonial-era beauty daubed in ochre-paint, with high ceilings and characterful common areas lined with arched columns and strung with hammocks for lazy afternoon siestas. Both have dorms and doubles, plus free bikes and walking tours to further keep costs down.
Additional reporting by Joe Varley.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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