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Teeming with rich history, tantalizing culture, decadent food, and breathtaking nature, Mexico is a serious explosion of sensory delights. The country’s vibrancy is nearly unparalleled, and as befits such a spectacular place, there are hundreds of amazing oceanfront resorts, beautiful boutique hotels brimming with old-world charm, and romantic bungalows hidden deep in the jungle. Here are the all-time best places to stay now.
Best Overall: Amuleto
Is Amuleto the best place to stay in not just Mexico — but the world? That’s certainly the general consensus among hotel-goers. This dreamy boutique, perched high in the hills above the coastal town of Zihuatanejo, has attained a near-mythical status in recent years. This could be due to its ultra-private setting — unlike many other Mexican resorts and hotels, it's totally tucked away from the world. Or it could be due to the absurdly gorgeous natural scenery here — the hotel is surrounded by lush greenery and tropical flowers, with sweeping views of the bay below. Of course, the hotel’s reputation could also be due to its hyper-personalized service and opulent amenities.
Here, each of the five exquisitely decorated suites feature uninterrupted ocean views, private plunge pools, hammocks, in-room and terrace sitting areas, plus all the basic essentials including a complimentary mini-bar, Wi-Fi, and more. In addition to all that, the attached restaurant is world-class — some recent sample dishes include grilled octopus with Spanish chorizo and white beans, black fettuccine with grilled shrimp and lemon-parmesan sauce, and herb-crusted red snapper. If you can only stay at one hotel in Mexico, make it Amuleto.
Best Budget: The Red Tree House
Staying at the Red Tree House is more like crashing at your best bud’s pad for the night than staying at a hotel (though we’re betting that this hip Mexico City backpacker spot is trendier than your friend’s house). A former 1930s-era residence, the Red Tree House’s distinctly homey vibes are what set it apart from other budget hotels in Mexico — well, that and the absolutely charming hosts who run the place, all of whom are more than happy to give you personal recommendations and travel advice (and serve you complimentary wine and snacks at the daily happy hours). Plus, the hotel is located smack-dab in one of Mexico City’s hottest neighborhoods: Condesa, which is full of buzzing eateries, galleries, and shops around every colorful corner.
Each of the budget stay's 17 rooms are simple, sunny, and furnished with unique artwork; rooms vary from the teeny-tiny “Treehouse” (which, despite its small size, is one of the most popular options) to the spacious penthouse that boasts a private rooftop patio. Guests can also make use of the leafy courtyard or cozy living area during their stay.
Best Boutique: Verana
An eclectic, hippie-chic luxury hotel that’s carved into the cliffs high above Yelapa Bay, Verana is easily one of the coolest lodging options in all of Mexico. It’s not exactly easy to get to — you have to fly to Puerto Vallarta, take a 30-minute boat ride, then hike to the top of the property (don’t worry, there are mules to help you carry your luggage) — but that only adds to its allure. Once you’ve completed your journey, be sure to reward yourself with a freshly made hibiscus juice drink, a refreshing dip in the infinity pool, or a Jungle Massage at the stylish spa.
Verana is an eco-friendly property — the hotel’s water comes from a nearby natural spring — and, in addition to the spa and swimming pool, there are plenty of amenities (both on-site and offered by staff) to keep guests busy for days on end, including organized jungle hikes and horseback rides, whale-watching tours, a restaurant and full bar, and a small library.
Best for Families: Hotel Esencia
In Mexico, it’s not hard to find a sprawling, family-centric resort with 10,000 different activities for kids and adults alike. But the Hotel Esencia offers something a little different. Situated just south of Playa del Carmen, with a lovely panoramic view of the Caribbean, this off-the-beaten-path property feels worlds away from Tulum’s crowded beaches and frenzied nightlife. The 50-acre estate (that just enjoyed a renovation in 2014) was once owned by an Italian duchess, and an air of royalty still remains.
The hotel’s 38 suites and villas are painted a stark white with dark wood accents, and each room has its own private terrace and sitting area. The two-bedroom pool villas are perfect for families — they even include chef services. Parents should take advantage of the on-site organic spa that overlooks the hotel’s cenote. There’s also a lot to do in the area, including a turtle sanctuary reef that’s just mere steps away from the hotel’s front doors. For families craving more of a mellow retreat as opposed to a hectic resort compound, Hotel Esencia is an utterly delightful alternative.
Best for Romance: Viceroy Riviera Maya
If it’s a romantic getaway you’re after, look no further than the Viceroy Riviera Maya. There are no kids allowed at this intimate, adults-only paradise, tucked deep into the verdant jungle in the Yucatan, right on a pristine strip of sand. Though the property is certainly ritzy, it’s not as modern as other luxury resorts in the area; instead, much of the decor is directly inspired by the local Mayan culture, such as the palapa roofs, shamanic touches, traditional music, and rattan furnishings. There’s even an ancient temazcal on the premises (a Mayan sweat lodge), and the hotel spa offers several Mayan-derived body treatments and massage rituals for couples so you and your loved one can get pampered side-by-side.
Accommodations are quite luxurious; all 41 of the private villas feature a patio and plunge pool, 500-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens, an outdoor shower, crocheted hammocks, a hand-carved stone dining table, and plush chaise longues on the terrace. Escape to the Viceroy Riviera Maya and renew your romance: You won’t regret it.
Best for Luxury: One&Only Palmilla
In terms of sheer five-star luxury, it doesn’t get much more upscale than the One&Only Palmilla in San Jose del Cabo. This top-rated resort is a feast for the senses with dramatic views of the glittering Sea of Cortez, golden sands edging the Baja Peninsula, and a never-ending list of amenities that include two world-renowned restaurants, a glam infinity pool, direct access to Playa Palmilla (one of the only swimmable beaches in the region), personalized butler service, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a full-scale spa.
A favorite among Hollywood's elite, the One&Only Palmilla was originally built as a 15-room hideaway in 1956 by the son of a former president of Mexico. Today, guests can select from among 174 deluxe rooms and suites, all of which showcase spectacular views from a terrace or patio, as well as deep soaking tubs (with ocean views), hand-woven fabrics, and floor-to-ceiling windows that face the sea. The One&Only Palmilla regularly appears on “World’s Best Hotels” lists, and once you book your stay here, you’ll have no trouble seeing why.
Best for Nightlife: Villa Ganz
Villa Ganz is a total gem, nestled right in the middle of Guadalajara’s Zona Rosa, in the heart of the Colonia Lafayette. Formerly a historic 1930s-era mansion, Villa Ganz was the first luxury boutique hotel in the city — and it’s also the ideal spot to stay if you want to get a taste of the city's legendary nightlife. The surrounding neighborhood is chock-full of cool restaurants, bars, galleries, shopping centers, and designer boutiques. In addition to the hotel’s prime location, the building’s aesthetic also makes it stand out amongst other downtown hotels: With its buttery yellow facade, high-walled garden and courtyard, and noble accents, this vibrant, two-story villa is practically bursting with colonial-era charm.
Take your pick between 10 elegantly restored guestrooms, all of which are outfitted with whimsical Mexican artisan accessories, vaulted ceilings, wrought iron furniture, and colorful fabrics and tiles. Villa Ganz also has thoughtful on-site amenities, including courtesy welcome drinks, daily house wine and appetizers, an honor bar stocked with local liquor, access to a nearby gym, and a continental breakfast.
Best for Business: Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City
Boasting the best business-friendly amenities that Mexico City has to offer, the Four Seasons is just steps away from grand, bustling Chapultepec Park, though it provides a wholly peaceful respite from the city. The hotel’s exceptional business services include a spacious business center with computer workstations, printers, scanners, and a fax machine, in addition to fully equipped boardrooms and around-the-clock assistance from bilingual staff.
Accommodations are sumptuous and decorated in soothing neutral tones, with superior amenities like deep soaking tubs (a much-appreciated perk after a long day of work), marble bathrooms, and sweeping views of Paseo de la Reforma or the serene courtyard. Other in-room amenities include plush down pillows and bedding, a refrigerated private bar, thick terrycloth bathrobes and slippers, a work desk, and ample closet space. If you’d prefer not to skip your workout on your trip, there’s a small yet fully furnished fitness center on the premises, along with a leafy courtyard, private rooftop pool, two restaurants and lounges, and a full-scale spa.
Best B&B: La Casa Lorenzo (Merida)
Though Mexico isn’t exactly short on charming bed-and-breakfasts, La Casa Lorenzo, in Merida, is noteworthy for its wonderfully pleasant facilities, warm and friendly staff, and exquisite design touches. Housed in a beautiful old building in a quiet section of Merida’s historic district — that is, the buzzing Santa Ana neighborhood — Casa Lorenzo recently underwent a large-scale renovation, so it’s truly the best of both worlds: plenty of modern conveniences, but with colonial decor.
When you step into the B&B's intimate courtyard, you’ll be greeted by the intoxicating scent of jasmine and other exotic flowers, and the sight of immaculately tended gardens and a tropical plant-fringed swimming pool. Guestrooms are equipped with huge showers, high thread-count linens, stylish furniture, Sealy Posturepedic mattresses, and intricate Mexican tile work. At night, the lounge and pool area is lit up with twinkly lights, so guests can mingle and sip tequila cocktails, or take a refreshing dip after a day spent exploring Merida.