We’d spent three days off-roading through dust and rivers, up and down mountains. We’d put in two nights of rooftop tent camping. At the end of our journey, we pulled into the small town of Bernal, which rests in the shadow of one of the tallest monoliths in the world.
When I stepped into a room at El Cantar del Viento and saw the imposing silhouette of Peña de Bernal out the window, I knew we had found a memorable place to clean up and rest. It ended up being so much more than we hoped for.
Thank you to El Cantar del Viento for offering us a discounted hotel stay, massage, and cena (dinner) in return for this honest review. While we didn’t plan or expect this partnership when we booked our first night, we’re delighted to share our experience with our community. All gushing opinions are our own.
How We Found El Cantar del Viento
I’ve carefully honed my ability to wing it. All attention had been focused on our weekend overland trip through Sierra Gorda, so we hadn’t confirmed any accommodations for afterwards.
As we left the mountain range for the more arid land near Bernal, Querétaro, I frantically checked my phone to see whether my cell signal had returned. Eventually I was able to access TripAdvisor–it was too last minute to book an Airbnb.
Bernal’s top-rated hotel on TripAdvisor had an astonishing 5 stars, something I hardly ever see. This is all the more impressive when you consider the large number of reviews: 153. I had to go see it.
We were hardly in the door to the complex when the staff member told us the price (we hadn’t asked). I did some quick math in my head, and the conversion worked out to $115 USD for one night.
We avoid spending more than $100 on hotels in the U.S., which is irritatingly hard to do these days. But one look at the room at El Cantar del Viento and there was no question: we were staying.
If it was just the room, that would be enough. We were surrounded by strikingly beautiful architecture: Saltillo tiles, wooden beams across the ceiling, brick work on the walls.
The comfortable bed was layered with locally-woven blankets. For Caspian, the staff made a cocoon on the floor, with a small mattress and mountain of blankets. Nuzzled between my side of the bed and the wall, he was more enclosed that he’d been since we gave up his crib for full-time overlanding. He seemed to love it.
Like every place we’ve stayed in Mexico, there was no central heat or wall unit. However, we did have a space heater to shield us from January’s nighttime lows. By using the heater in the bathroom during showers, and by our bedside immediately before and after sleeping, we stayed comfortable.
And did I mention the view?
The Owner and Staff
The room was only a small beginning. El Cantar del Viento’s owner, “Tony,” made us feel instantly welcome. She used to be in the medical field, and originally came to Bernal to serve the local people. Her hotel started small, but it was received more enthusiastically than Tony expected. (We’re not remotely surprised.)
It’s impossible to describe the level of hospitality and generosity we experienced. I’m simply not used to receiving such a high level of service, with every detail attended to.
Caspian was wearing his last pair of clean pants after our weekend of overlanding, so we asked for a local lavanderia recommendation. A few minutes later, staff member Martín was at our door, picking up all our dirty clothes to be washed at the hotel.
Every time I put something down (an empty coffee cup, a banana peel), it magically disappeared the moment I turned around. Considering my #momlife of constant motion and cleaning up, I could definitely get used to that!
Our stay included complimentary breakfast. A stream of drinks and food was brought to the table, including:
- Coffee for me
- Mexican hot chocolate that reminded Eric of his childhood
- Fresh juice
- Cup upon cup of milk for Caspian in a Minnie Mouse cup he still talks about
- Fresh fruit
- Yogurt and granola
- And then the main course!
On our first day, I had chicken quesadillas with a side of frijoles (beans), while Eric had chilaquiles with verde sauce. On our second day, we were served enchiladas rojo (red sauce). Everything was incredibly delicious.
Tony also treated us to a complimentary cena (the third meal of the day in Mexico, normally eaten anywhere from 7-9 p.m.). We chose our meals from a menu. I had tilapia topped with corn, red bell pepper, and olives, with sides of green beans, carrots, and the most delicious rice.
Because the sun’s warmth was gone for the day, we sat at the one indoor table, adjacent to the kitchen. It was peaceful and felt like home.
Eric pulled something in his shoulder right before we left for Mexico, and he’s been desperately looking for a quality masseuse ever since. We found out El Cantar del Viento actually has a masseuse on-site, so Eric received a one-hour massage for 300 pesos (normal price 750 pesos, which converts to $40 USD).
Caspian was treated to a bin of toys, plus a playmat to keep him from the cold floors. And then there was Club de Tobi, a toddler-sized playhouse full of even more toys.
During Caspian’s morning naptime, I worked from a paradisiacal perch overlooking la Peña. El Cantar del Viento is brimming with places to relax. There’s a hammock and a swing, seating in the shade and in the warm sun, binoculars for bird watching, blankets for cuddling up. Every want is anticipated.
When we needed a taxi, it was called for us and there within minutes. Like I said, I can’t say enough about the capable and friendly staff members.
So what did it cost for us to live like royalty in the best hotel in town? As of this writing: nightly prices range from 2100-2400 pesos, depending on the day of the week ($110-126 USD). Pricing is slightly more during holidays.
We paid 200 pesos for laundry ($10.50 USD). I’m not sure whether this is a service the hotel normally offers, but you can certainly ask. Based on my experience, I’m guessing they will go out of their way to take care of you.
Breakfast is included with your night’s stay. Other drinks, snacks, and meals are available by request at an additional price.
All told, our blissful two-night stay cost us the equivalent of $194 USD. Had we paid full price, it would’ve been approximately $315 USD for two nights of lodging, two breakfasts, one dinner, an hour-long massage, and laundry.
The Fondest Memories of El Cantar del Viento
We’ve been traveling through Mexico for 31 days, and every new experience has been worth having. But very little compares to the all-around experience at El Cantar del Viento. I haven’t stopped thinking about it, and I’d love to return sometime in my life. I hope you have the privilege of seeing it for yourself some day!
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