Mesones Sacristia and Puebla Mexico
I don't know the difference between a fry pan and a saute pan so you may ask why did I purchase a LL package that included cooking classes - for the hubby - this was a special treat for him and I ended up really enjoying myself.
This package packed alot into a 6 night package: 15 hours of cooking classes, tour of Puebla city, tickets to a museum, full breakfast each day, 3 dinners and a tour of the food market.
The hotel itself is a converted 16th century former Spanish colonial residence and has 8 rooms on the 2nd level. The 1st level is reception, open courtyard restaurant, 2 indoor areas of the restaurant, the bar and the cooking school. I give the hotel 5 stars for charm and ambience with lots of antiques and Mexican decor, however, pretty much everything is for sale & there were conspicuous price tags hanging on everything - this could have been more discreet.
We were in the Bautismaul suite with 2 queen beds - we had requested a room with 2 beds and only 2 of the rooms have 2 beds. The room was pretty & furnished with antique and rustic pieces, however, there was no real comfortable seating and the beds were pretty hard - I am very picky about beds, although, the firmness was fine for my husband. The bathroom was very small but attractively tiled and functional for 1 person only. We did have a chance to peek into 3 of the other rooms and I do have to say they were much nicer - comfortable leather chairs and couches and much larger bathrooms - so if you stay here, I would suggest not to stay in the Bautismaul suite. We did not see the other 4 rooms so there may be another one with a very tiny bathroom.
Breakfast was included each day and the food and service were excellent as were the 2 dinners we had at the Sacristia. For our 3rd dinner we went to the hotel's other restaurant - El Miral de los Poblanos which I actually enjoyed better than the Sacristia meals since there were more choices on the menu - the Sacristia menu is only traditional Mexican food and I am not partial to moles and foods with a lot of spicy peppers - the hubby loves this kind of food and gives the Sacristia 5 stars for the food.
There is a bar/restaurant next door to the Sacrisita open until 11pm every night and it is very loud - our room was right in the front of the hotel so it did get noisy. At the end of the block is a small park surrounded by many bars & discos and since we were there over the weekend, it was also pretty noisy.
The cooking school is somewhat small and I would say 6 could comfortably interact with the instructors - more people may be tough. The chef, Alonzo and his assistant Lizbeth were both great and found humor in my pathetic attempts at cooking! Our 15 hours of classes were comprised of 3 hours per day for 5 days (10am-1pm - with the last 45 minutes eating the food we cooked). The hubby had tons of fun and passed with honors and I found myself actually enjoying the process. We learned to cook many good things and were given our official aprons and a cookbook to take home (anyone wants recipes - send me a message and I can scan and email to you). One afternoon Alonzo & Lizbeth took us to the local food market (El Carmen) which we enjoyed - I wish they had produce that great looking in Philadelphia!
We had our afternoons free which left ample time to enjoy the sigths and sounds of Puebla and its' environs. Puebla is a large city of about 3 million and we mostly stuck to the historic center which is where the hotel is located. It was about a 3 block walk to the central Zocalo and is the happening spot in town. There is a hotel right on the Zocalo called Hotel Royalty and they have an outdoor cafe right on the sqare - we enjoyed siting there in the evening and people watching while having a few drinks - we had lunch there one day and the food was good. We were lucky to be there over the weekend since Puebla puts on all kinds of free entertainment - they set up a big stage in the center and on Sunday night we saw folkloric dancers, a rock band and there were comedians and Carnival dancers all over the square. There are also wonderful colonial buildings and many, many beautiful churches - of particular note is the Santo Domingo church and its Rosary chapel - all done up in rocco and baroque style with lots of gold leaf.
We used the tour services of Carlos Rivero (thank you Omegaet!) to take us from the airport to the hotel, take us to Cholula and drive us to Mexico City - he speaks excellent English, knows all the right spots to take you to and is very informative- Carlos Rivero Tours, Puebla, MEXICO and Facebbok - Carlos Rivero | Facebook
There are also many, many places to buy beautiful Talavera tile and I would recommend Artesanias Manos Magicas - family owned, huge selection, speak English and very good prices - we purchased quite a few pieces here. they even have a website where you can buy online manosmagicas.com.mx and they said their shipping prices are reasonable. There are also shops selling very beautiful embroidered linens - we purchased lots from Blancos Argal - wonderful owner and staff.
A 20 minute drive from Puebla, is the lovely town and archaeological site of Cholula. Cholula has the largest pyramid by volume in the world and it is big - the Spanish built a beautiful church, Los Remedios at the very top - lots of steps to climb but well worth it for the church and the views! We saw a wonderful sunset over Popo volcanoe from the top. Just outside of Cholula, Carlos took us to a unique church in the village of Tontantzitla built by the indigenous peoples in a mixture of indigenous and Catholic styles - very unique and beautiful. Unfortunately you can not take pictures inside but I do have a shot of the outside. We also went to another village with a church worth seeing - San Francisco Acatapec - the outside is totally covered in amazing Talavera tiles and the inside is pretty amazing also. Puebla and it's environs have some of the most beautiful churches we have seen in Latin American.
A great LL pacakge, wonderful city, great food. We highly recommend and would visit again!