Hotel Trinidad Galeria was opened in Merida, Mexico in the 1980’s by art and antiques collector Manolo Rivero. It was a car dealership he inherited from his father which he used as his home, turning part of it into a hotel and art gallery. There, he housed his many treasures, decorating the living areas and rooms himself with antiques, artefacts and art.
Rivero hosted various artists that came to Merida throughout the years, many of them Cubans who were considered undesirable in Cuba in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Rivero brought them to Mexico, organized exhibitions for them and sometimes offered lodging in exchange for art. Merida has a strong aesthetic resemblance to Cuba and parts of the film “Before Night Falls” by Julian Schnabel were filmed there, with Rivero befriending and hosting the director and actors Dennis Hopper and Javier Bardem during the filming.
More than 20 years later and with Rivero passing in 2006, the place looks a little rundown, yet everything is preserved as Manolo Rivero left it. It is like being in a specific moment in time, in Rivero’s own dream and creation. Walking around the grounds of the mansion is surreal, it is quiet and mysterious, with labyrinth-like hallways and many lush gardens hiding various fountains amids the slightly overgrown vegetation. Some parts are darker and even a bit creepy, like the balcony with a child mannequin that stands alone behind its bars. Other parts seem more magic, an indoor hallway that leads to a secret garden with a pool fronted by two white horse heads.
It is a place that can still be truly considered bohemian, it has resisted change and trends over the years, the rooms are still inexpensive and each one of them has retained its individual furnishings and decorations. A very unique place to stay at or visit in Merida.
Photos: Melinda Santillan