Mexico is so much more than tequila, fajitas and sombreros. With a diversity of landscapes, languages, cuisines and indigenous culture, its capital Mexico City, the second largest on earth, is also its vibrant, mad beating heart, with a wealth of historical sites and museums, fantastic restaurants and an exciting arts scene. But it’s not all about Mexico City, that’s why our Gurus have come up with their list of the best hotels outside Mexico City.
Mexico City is surrounded by beautiful old towns like Puebla and great weekend retreats like Valle de Bravo, while in the south Chiapas is a lush rainforest state dotted with Mayan ruins and breathtaking scenery and the famous Yucatan Peninsula offers picture-perfect beaches and world-class resorts for those in search of sun, sea and sand. So our Gurus haven’t restricted themselves to recommending the best hotels outside Mexico City which are just outside the city, no, these are some of the best places to stay across the whole country.
Until recently Mexico’s hotel scene was dominated by the big chains in resorts like Cancun but the last ten years has seen a decided shift towards more sophisticated offerings with a handful of hoteliers dominating the design hotel market. Whether the best hotels outside Mexico City you choose are contemporary hotels, exclusive beach resorts or small hotels with a cultural mission, one thing is certain: this fascinating and generous country will not disappoint.
Just steps from the ocean off Play del Carmen, Basico is a creatively designed hotel with an excellent seafood restaurant. Expect something halfway between a ship and a factory. Or you might try Hotel Secreto on the Riviera Maya, which has stylish rooms with fourposter beds and limestone floors, and balconies overlooking the infinity pool and then the beach. The Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya is right beside a postcard perfect beach, surrounded by tropical rainforest - it’s sensitively constructed but it also has three restaurants and a high-spec spa.
Na Bolom is a beautiful old colonial townhouse hotel filled with fascinating treasures, including a private library and museum, the hotel works to support the local indigenous community, so don’t expect hotel service, but you do get a chance to experience more of Mexico’s vibrant culture.
Villa@Merida in Mérida is an elegant, palatial even, 19th Century mansion with just seven vibrant rooms around tropical courtyards with fountains.
The Viceroy Riviera Maya is a collection of private villas, each with their own pool overlooking the ocean, surrounded by tropical forest which rolls into white sand. It’s also got a great spa.
Deseo in Playa del Carmem is a stylish, modern, 12 room hotel in the heart of town popular with young cosmopolitan folk, and is great value, with rooms starting from £86 per night. Or, for even better value, at around £75 per night, try Mezzanine in Tulum, which is a small but characterful hotel with thatched rooms and a popular restaurant right on the beach.
Casa Oaxaca in Oaxaca has just seven rooms, arranged around a pretty courtyard in a colonial building, and there’s a great restaurant where you can also take cooking lessons.
Las Bugambilias in foodie capital Oaxaca is a simple restaurant and B&B with just ten rooms, all decorated sparely, but all with different features - some with lovely traditional bathrooms and some with balconies overlooking a lovely courtyard.
Maroma on the Riviera Maya is a secluded hotel with a beautiful beach and outstanding facilities, or you might try Hacienda San José in Mérida, which is a beautifully restored 11 room jungle hacienda hideaway with topical gardens, pools, hammocks and a world class spa.
San Cristobal de las Casas
A charming boutique hotel and museum of Lacandon people (to whom the proceeds go). A treasure trove of indigenous art, artefacts and handicrafts. Each unique bedroom has a fireplace. Dinner is served at the enormous dinning table under lampshades made of old hats!
Playa del Carmen
Stylish seaside hotel in the heart of town in Playa del Carmen. Its lively location and outstanding terrace with swimming pool and bar make it a refuge for those young and cosmopolitan.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Inventive contemporary design and excellent seafood just steps from the ocean on the Playa del Carmen. Neon pink lamps, white concrete walls, floating beds, and swimming pools made from old trucker tires - decoration with humour. A young and fun place to stay.
Playa del Carmen
Stunning private villas surrounded by tropical forest and white sands. Watersports abound, delicious fresh fish restaurant, and fantastic Mayan spa to top it all off. A thrill for spa-junkies and beach seekers alike.
Isla Mujeres, Riviera Maya
One of Isla's only luxury boutique hotels. A hidden gem with infinity pool overlooking its own private beach. The chic modern rooms boast floor to ceiling windows and original artworks. The new bar serves up dangerously good Margaritas.
Tulum, Riviera Maya
Trendy barefoot luxury with a secluded beach and tropical gardens. Relax in airy suites and rooms with breathtaking sea views. Enjoy cocktails on the sun terrace or in dappled shade on bean bags. Great water sports and activities on offer. A place to relax in style.
A secluded oasis hotel with beautiful beach and outstanding facilities. This luxury resort is perfect for honeymoons, beach life, and endless pampering. Enjoy tropical relaxation at one of the three hotel pools or explore the area and the many activities on offer.
This Colonial manor turned boutique hotel is only five minutes from the action and offers a courtyard pool, a restaurant and bar. Cool comfortable rooms are adorned with local art. Enjoy the nouvelle Mexican cuisine surrounded by contemporary art works. A truly remarkable experience.
A characterful family-run bed and breakfast in arty Oaxaca. The three buildings are uniquely decorated with bright colours, Mexican art and plenty of charm. With large comfortable rooms and a rooftop terrace overlooking the city. Yummy communal breakfast adds to the family vibes.
Mérida (Colonia Centro)
Elegant 19th Century mansion renovation with colonial undertones. Tropical courtyards with fountains, vibrant rooms with four poster beds, arched verandas. A palatial city break.
This lovingly restored 18th-century hacienda in the jungle is the perfect romantic hideaway. Stunning rooms and villas feature cool tile floors, tropical hardwood furnishings and private plunge pools. Lush tropical gardens, hammocks and spa complete the picture. A garden of Eden.
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Tropical forest hideaway by picture postacard beach
Playa del Carmen (LT 08 MZ 151 Col Zacil-Ha)
Intimate, adult-only boutique hotel combines traditional looks with contemporary comforts. Bright rooms and the courtyard swimming pool make this an ideal place for exploring by day, and relaxing in the evening. Breakfast is served poolside and is the perfect way to start the day. Great beach spot.