Mexico has no shortage of mega-resorts with could-be-anywhere buffets and in-room liquor dispensers. But for every characterless all-inclusive, we could tell you a charming boutique-hotel alternative. Here are the best boutique hotels in Mexico, from Acapulco to the Yucatan.
The former estate of an Italian duchess, the ultra-luxurious Esencia oozes Mediterranean elegance and style. With just 29 rooms spread over 50 acres, the property feels intimate and exclusive, and shows a thorough attention to detail in everything from the services to the decor. Upscale, contemporary rooms are housed in two-story buildings set amid lush tropical grounds, and feature lots of high-end amenities, including pre-loaded iPods, Molton Brown toiletries, and in some, even private plunge pools. The gorgeous spa, excellent restaurant, and relaxing pools with ocean views are highlights.
True to this high-end brand's reputation, The Cape, a Thompson Hotel is arguably one of the swankiest hotels in Cabo San Lucas. The 161 rooms vary greatly, but all have a sharp look plus luxury amenities including spacious glass-enclosed bathrooms, ocean-view balconies or terraces, in-room cocktail bars, and (optional) private hot tubs. Many include services like butlers and in-villa check-in. The property has two pools, an excellent surfer’s beach, a world-class Mexican restaurant, and a breathtaking spa, it’s unlikely guests will find much to fuss over. However, the secluded location away from town may dissuade some guests, though that's just what others are looking for.
The design and decor at the Resort at Pedregal has been curated with an eye for all things artisanal, and you'll see lots of handsome hardwood used everywhere from ceiling beams to closet doors. The 118 rooms come with large flat-screen TVs, fireplaces, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi (note that it can be spotty), Nespresso machines, minibars, and spacious furnished balconies with hot tubs and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and rocky cliffs. Service is impeccable, too -- expect thoughtful extras such as fresh peaches and chia water in the lobby and full-size bottles of premium tequila in the rooms upon arrival. And as far as on-site amenities go, it's tough to top the Pedregal's impressive list: two infinity pools; a large spa complex with a saltwater pool, a sauna, steam rooms, and ice rooms; and great dining star, the star of which is the cliffside El Farallon, and the adjacent Champagne bar. Although the waves at the hotel's beach area are too large to allow for swimming, safe beaches can be found within five miles. All in all, it's one of the best hotels in Cabo San Lucas.
Hotel Encanto is a one-of-a-kind luxury hotel with everything that well-heeled travelers could want in a vacation -- except for beach access. The hotel’s pool is mesmerizing with an infinity ledge that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and has contrasting clear and black-bottom areas which create the perception of two-toned waters. Well-known Mexican chef Mónica Patiño runs Origin, and there's a second restaurant for lighter fare. The spa offers a long, open-air spa tub situated on a wooden terrace, which offers dramatic views of the ocean. There are 44 guest rooms with a striking modern design that includes natural stone furniture. But breakfast isn't included and there's a daily resort fee.
One of the smaller luxury properties in Los Cabos, Esperanza Resort packs plenty of luxury punch. With a dramatic cliffside setting, stunning ocean views are available almost everywhere, and the many terraces at the hotel's gourmet restaurant jutting out into the ocean. The 123 casitas and villas are rustic, bright, and refined, with romantic extras like bathrooms with side-by-side showers and separate soaking tubs. Balconies include plunge pools or hammocks, and pampering services include in-room check-in and personal concierges. The hotel has an elegant spa and large fitness center, and the main infinity pool is a stunner, though the beaches aren't swimmable.
Banyan Tree Cabo Marques is a five-pearl boutique resort located in Acapulco’s fashionable Diamente neighborhood. The 45 outstanding villas are subtly opulent, beautifully blending the brand’s trademark Asian decor with delicate Mexican accents. Striking ocean views, exceptional restaurants, and a wonderful spa combine to create an experience unparalleled elsewhere in Acapulco. The location is perfect for guests seeking a romantic escape, but those hoping to visit the city’s beaches and attractions or enjoy the nightlife scene may find it isolated -- Playa Revolcadero will take 10 minutes to reach by car.
The 35-room Las Alcobas Mexico DF is a jewel of a luxury boutique hotel in the exclusive Polanco neighborhood, within walking distance of restaurants, bars, boutiques, and museums. Public spaces in this 35-room property are quiet, intimate, and harmonious, and the two on-site gourmet restaurants draw local foodies as well as guests. Rooms are modern and sophisticated, with high-tech touches, and the stylish spa uses indigenous ingredients in many of its treatments. Special services include bath butlers and free wake-up calls offering guests a choice of coffee, tea, or smoothie. Be aware that children must be at least 7 years old to stay here.
This upscale 65-room boutique between Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos has a beautiful setting on a white-sand beach, amid a jungle preserve. Contemporary rooms are equipped with original artwork, furniture from the hotel’s own workshops, king beds and either a terrace or a balcony. The great amenities on offer, including three pools, upscale dining, a wonderful spa, and a gorgeous beach, make this a solid pick, but prices are quite steep; other luxury resorts in the area may offer better value.
The Viceroy Riviera Maya is a seriously upscale resort nestled in a lush rainforest setting15 minutes' drive from the Playa del Carmen town center. Chic, rustic villas are awash with deluxe touches, and private patios feature heated plunge pools and alfresco "moon showers." Although rocky in places, the beach has white-powder sand and turquoise waters; it makes an attractive backdrop to the serene pool area and sea-facing restaurants. While families with kids should look elsewhere (children under 14 are not allowed) couples looking for a secluded, romantic retreat -- who aren't afraid of splashing the cash -- will be sure to find it here.
With only 90 suites, the Zoetry Paraiso offers a romantic, wellness-centric boutique experience in the Mayan Riviera. The unique layouts of the suites offers different experiences to guests, including Terrace Suites with small bath-side indoor gardens, and Plunge Pool Suites with small personal outdoor pools. Even though warm, Mediterranean style is a bit different in each room type, all are spacious with comfortable furnishings and Bulgari toiletries. The pool area and beach are relaxed with double-wide lounge chairs (perfect for couples), and the on-site dining keeps the resort's wellness theme alive with delicious, healthy meals. Included amenities not standard at most all-inclusive resorts, such as a "welcome" bottle of tequila, daily bottle of champagne, a one-hour Catamaran sunset sail, three-times-daily maid service, and private chauffeured airport transfers, make this resort a standout among Puerto Morelos' finest properties (though expect the price to reflect that).
Haramara is arguably one of the most special hotels in Mexico. It is a luxurious yoga retreat located on 12 seaside acres of wild vegetation just outside Sayulita. The structures have been built using traditional construction techniques to minimize the environmental impact, and there is no electricity anywhere besides the restaurant and the yoga studio -- not even in the rooms. Each room is housed in a private standalone thatched hut with no window panes or screens separating it from the jungle, and only gauze curtains and mosquito nets to avoid bugs and critters. It is geared towards those in need of some detoxification and relaxation, with yoga and meditation classes, an open-air spa, a vegetarian and seafood restaurant, unpaved trails, and limited cell phone service.
Oasis and haven are a couple of words that come to mind when describing Pepes Hideaway. Located in a private community, the hotel -- with just six bungalows -- is indeed a relaxing, peaceful hideaway. Each bungalow has a gorgeous thatched roof, furnished balconies with hammocks, stocked mini-fridges, free Wi-Fi, and robes. They lack air-conditioning and mosquitos can be a problem, but fans, bug spray, and citronella candles are provided. It's an all-inclusive, so three delicious meals are prepared each day and beer, wine, and margaritas are available 24/7. There's an on-site pool with adjacent whirlpool, and a private beach is a 10-minute walk away, or staff will drive guests there. There aren't any TVs and kids are rarely present, making it a wonderful retreat for couples
The upscale Hotel Boutique 1850 is a hip, sophisticated hotel located in the heart of Guanajuato's historic core, just off the town's main square. Interiors are chic and whimsical, with vibrant prints, artful details, and bright pops of color, and freebies include breakfast and Wi-Fi. The 20 stylish rooms are all individually designed and have flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and high-end bath products. Some rooms look out onto the charming square, and others have views of the interior courtyard with its plate-glass ceiling. The hotel's chic rooftop bar offers great views of the city and it's on-site restaurant, Casa Valdez, is popular.
Casa de los Suenos is an upscale hotel at the quiet southern end of Isla Mujeres. The hotel's 10 large rooms utilize Mexican crafts to artwork create bright, memorable spaces, and there are high-end organic products in the bathrooms. Thoughtful extras like free nonalcoholic minibar drinks and freshly baked pastries on arrival contribute to the hotel's welcoming ambience. The on-site restaurant, infinity pool, and water park all offer views of the pier and turquoise waters off the coast. Although the hotel earns top marks for its atmosphere and amenities, there's no direct beach access, and some guest may find the location, a 15-minute drive from downtown, too remote.
Verana is an adult-only boutique resort nestled in a hillside high atop the bay of Yelapa, a small village on the coast of Mexico that is only reachable by boat. Forty-five minutes south of Puerto Vallarta, Verana offers eight uniquely designed, rustic houses that include completely open-air, gazebo-style rooms perched out over the jungle; some have private pools. While facilities are minimal and not exactly upscale, this secluded jungle experience -- which includes a lovely restaurant, spa and infinity pool -- is popular among couples looking to get away from it all. Due to the isolated location, though, it takes some effort to explore Yelapa beyond the property.
This secluded, romantic retreat is tucked away in a beachfront spot in the jungle outside Sayulita. It offers 25 beautiful rooms housed in standalone huts built using natural local materials and offering ocean or jungle views, rustic-chic decor, terraces, and no window panes. The idea is to deliver an unplugged, in-touch-with-nature vacation, so rooms have no TVs, while cell phone and Internet service are limited to some common areas. The beautiful infinity pool, gorgeous massage huts, tastyrestaurants, and private sandy beach are all highlights. Just note that Bird Canyon rooms, while as gorgeous as the other accommodations, are far from the main facilities (a golf cart is provided). The vibe is definitely adult-oriented, and kids are only allowed during certain holiday periods.
There are two Punta Mitas: inside the fence and outside the fence. Inside the fence are five-star hotels, multi-million dollar homes, and Jack Nicklaus-designed links. Outside the fence is a scruffy little town called Anclote, with a few high-end properties. One such property is the Hotel Cinco (formerly, the Hotel des Artistes), a 12-suite luxury boutique hotel on the beach, with two pools, a gym, and the Punta Mita branch of Puerto Vallarta's finest restaurant, the Cafe Des Artistes, on the ground floor. For those seeking a luxurious Punta Mita vacation without fencing themselves off from Mexican reality, this is a great spot.
A beachside boutique hotel with just 30 rooms, the upscale Hotel Jashita is an elegant little piece of paradise. The property sits on a gorgeous, if slightly rocky beach a 20-minute drive north of Tulum with almost nothing nearby; it's peaceful, though rental cars are necessary to explore. Rooms are refined and modern, with details like four-poster beds, spacious terraces, and modern amenities. Sahara restaurant provides a romantic and popular place to dine, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including a poolside grill that's fired up in the evenings. Kayaks and snorkeling gear are available, and there's a beachside pool and kids' pool.
The luxury Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel & Spa is housed in two enchanting, iconically pink colonial mansions on Merida’s posh Paseo Montejo. Its 17 chic and elegant rooms and suites have an array of modern comforts such as flat-screen TVs, Bose sound systems, iPod docks, and sumptuous touches like handmade chocolate soaps in bathrooms featuring open-air soaking tubs. An elegant on-site restaurant with a lovely outdoor patio serves traditional Yucatecan cuisine with a modern twist, and there's a tequila bar and a relaxed rooftop lounge with occasional live jazz. The outdoor pool is small, but situated in a palm-lined courtyard, and there’s also a modern fitness center and a spa that offers chocolate-based treatments. The location, though close to great shopping and dining options, is a bit of a trek to Merida’s main square (the Zocalo) and top sights.
The upscale Casa Lecanda is a charming boutique hotel with seven rooms and lovely gardens in a central location two blocks from Paseo Montejo, Merida’s main avenue. Interiors are tastefully appointed and feature original details like decorative tiling and exposed ceiling beams. The elegant rooms marry such features with handsome, custom wooden furniture as well as modern comforts like flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi (though they lack tea/coffee making facilities), plus some have balconies. Common spaces include several lovely patios furnished with comfortable seating amid the lush, green gardens, and there’s also an outdoor pool. Though there’s no full restaurant, the hotel’s wine and tequila bar serves snacks, and daily continental breakfast is included in room rates.