Best Hotels in Mexico
Wherever you go, you can expect magnificent scenery with world-class service and maybe even a shaded daybed on your private balcony—perfect for that midday siesta. Find out which Mexico hotels made the cut, as selected by readers in our annual World's Best Awards survey.
No. 1 One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, San José del Cabo, Mexico
Set on the tip of Mexico's Baja peninsula, One&Only Palmilla is luxury at its finest. First, there's the emphasis on individual service that makes this big resort feel like a boutique hotel (guests are called by name, for example). Then, there's dining—celeb chef Jean Georges Vongerichten heads up its Market restaurant, which turns out tuna "ribbons" in a chipotle glaze. Finally, there's romance—concierges have been known to arrange moonlit guitar serenades on private sandy coves. The 172 airy rooms (and one villa) have red-tile roofs and floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Sea of Cortes; other sleeping options include the shaded daybeds on private balconies (those are good for a midday siesta). For families, a meandering river connects the kids' pool to an infinity pool where Mom and Dad can gaze at the turquoise sea and golden sands.
No. 2 Esperanza, an Auberge Resort, Los Cabos, Mexico
Set at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula, just a few miles from Cabo San Lucas, Esperanza comands views of both the Sea of Cortez and Punta Ballena (“Whale Point,” past which humpbacks migrate in winter). The 57 casitas and suites—along with 60 privately owned villas—are spacious, decorated in muted seashell colors and natural fibers (rattan chairs, carved-wood tables and headboards, locally woven rugs). Each has a single wall that slides open dramatically to a private veranda with an infinity-edge hot tub and sweeping seascapes—an inspiring spot for, among other things, morning yoga practice (the rooms come with mats). The resort has a full calendar of culinary events, from beach asados (Argentine-style barbecues) to Mexicanisimo Thursdays, when live music and fireworks accompany foods from various regions of the country. The new “Sunrise Yoga” program offers an early-morning stretch at one of the hotel’s two private coves.
No. 3 Four Seasons Hotel, Mexico, D.F., Mexico
Only a world-class hotel like the Four Seasons could make Mexico City, a hectic metropolis of 21 million, feel relaxing. Its colonial-hacienda architecture, Mexican gardens (with tropical-fruit trees, orchids, and chirping caged canaries), courtyard dining, and proximity to verdant Chapultapec Forest represent an oasis of calm amid the bustle of the capital. The 240 extra-large guestrooms also promote tranquility with a neutral palette of taupes and creams, deep soaking tubs, and views of elegant Paseo de la Reforma or the quiet courtyard. In keeping with Four Seasons culture, the large staff is warm, genuinely helpful, and utterly unflappable. The in-house Galería Lourdes Sosa has a rotating collection of Mexican art, including paintings by Jose Luis Cuevas.
No. 4 Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort, San José del Cabo, Mexico
The Zen-like 61-suite "windows to paradise" has a muted Mex-Med vibe. Hand-carved cedar doors open into guestrooms with spacious living space, ocean vistas from virtually any corner, private infinity-edge pools, and—in some cases—rooftop balconies. Crafted by Mexican artisans, decorative details include a raised-platform bed with oversized pillows and inlaid-stone headboard, floors of conchuela tiles, and intriguing mother-of-pearl-like windows. The hotel is staffed to the gills: on-hand butlers set up laptops, coordinate appointments, recommend menus, arrange car rentals, and generally prevent guests from lifting a finger (we dare you to try to adjust your own beach chair or fetch your own mojito). For literature lovers, the new Hot Type program, launched in July 2011, allows guests to read soon-to-be-released books by top-selling authors some six months before publication.
No. 5 Ritz-Carlton, Cancún, Mexico
Ritz-Carlton's only Mexican property is a hacienda-style retreat on a 17,000-square-foot beach area—the largest in the Hotel Zone. All 365 rooms have private balconies with Caribbean views, and specialized suites—including the Itzy, Bitzy Ritz Kids Rooms (targeted at new parents) and the tony Club Level Rooms (a veritable hotel within the hotel)—allow guests to custom-tailor their experiences. Weekend offerings are similarly all-encompassing: Friday is kids' karaoke night, and at Saturday's Luna Lounge parties, young guests pitch tents under the stars while Mom and Dad eat lobster in an oceanside cabana. Chef Jordi Valles's seafood-centric Fantino restaurant is one of the country's top-rated kitchens, and an on-site culinary center offers weekly tequila tastings as well as a Chef's Table dining experience that combines wine pairings of Mexican vintages, a tasting menu, and cooking lessons. In 2011, the hotel added a private infinity pool that can be rented out and comes with a personal butler.
No. 6 Excellence Riviera Cancún, Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Situated on a sugary beach on Mexico's Riviera Maya coast, Excellence Riviera Cancun is styled after a classic Mediterranean resort: stucco, tile, and marble (though it does have Mayan paintings on the exterior). Suites have four-poster beds, marble baths, and two-person whirlpools. While Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum are all within easy driving distance, the hotel is a world unto itself, and guests may find it difficult to part with the six meandering, river-like pools; five outdoor Jacuzzis; eight restaurants; 10 bars; jogging trails through the jungle; hammocks for siesta, and—phew!—dozens of other on-site activities. Unlike at some all-inclusives, reservations are not necessary at any of the restaurants. In fact, they're not accepted anywhere, for anything: at Excellence, spontaneity and leisure are the name of the game.
No. 7 La Casa Que Canta, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Pure romance of the white-wine-at-sunset and walk-on-the-beach variety is the lure at this 25-suite hideaway above Zihuatanejo Bay. All rooms have a cool Mexican contemporary vibe, ample ocean views and notably absent televisions; some offer private plunge pools and terraces strung with colorful hammocks. Because of the hotel's construction style—made up of several sangria-red villas built into a terraced hillside above La Ropa beach—there are lots of secluded decks and hidden corners, perfect for canoodling couples or sunbathers. A saltwater pool adjacent to the beach is filled naturally by the sea; lounge there in the evening with a perfectly salty lime margarita and piquant tiritas de pescado (ceviche-like fish salad) as mariachis play sweet boleros and the sun sets into the Pacific.
No. 8 Royal Cancún, Mexico
For those who fear Cancún is all spring break debauchery, the Royal may be what you're looking for. With its adults-only policy, this 288-room quasi-Palladian all-inclusive has a distinctly grown-up sensibility. The 288 rooms and suites—nearly all of which offer unobstructed views of Cacun's sugar-white sand and azure sea—seem especially geared toward honeymooners, with white-canopied beds, balconies with sunset views, private decks with hammocks, and water-jetted showers big enough for two. As for the service, there are beachside butlers to bring around cold towels, ice water, suntan lotion, and reading material for sunbathers; an in-house sommelier to hold wine-tastings at night; and a Romance Concierge, just in case the his-and-hers Jacuzzis and complimentary champagne don’t do the trick.
No. 9 Maroma Resort & Spa, Solidaridad, Mexico
This Tulum-area resort gained renown for its 7,000-square-foot spa, fleet of waterfront beds (picturesque perches for sipping mango-and-cilantro margaritas), and 65 thatch-roof bungalows with handwoven hammocks and rugs. In 2010, Orient Express upped the ante with a tequila-centric lounge and a stellar new head chef for its Mexican tapas restaurant. But unparalleled luxury facilities are only part of the resort's appeal: what makes the Maroma experience truly exceptional is its embrace of regional traditions. The charming staff—from the women who scatter bougainvillea blossoms on the beds at turndown to the waiters who prepare guacamole tableside—is mostly of Mayan descent, and the indigenous influence is reflected in both the Yucatec dishes interspersed on chef Juan Pablo Loza's menu (baked suckling pig with local spices and platano purée) and the architecture of the Kinan Spa.
No. 10 Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The grand dame of San Miguel's ever-expanding collection of luxury hotels, Casa de Sierra Nevada (made up of six Spanish-colonial mansions) exudes colonial charm and laid-back stylishness. All 37 unique, colorfully painted rooms blend historic and modern furnishings, with tables, rugs, and headboards from the 18th and 19th centuries alongside hand-stenciled walls, talavera-tiled bathrooms, and copper bathtubs all made by local artisans. Guests can join chef Felipe Ramirez (who joined the hotel in 2010) on a San Miguel Market tour to select fresh produce, then go back to the on-site cooking school Sazon to make lunch. For dinner, Ramirez turns out upscale Mexican fare; try the barbecue-style short rib with warm avocado ragout and petal salad. To experience the ancient purification ritual of temazcal, visit the newly constructed “sweat lodge” space in Laja Spa.