The Best Hotels
Mexico & Central America
Languid days and electrifying nights–hotels in Mexico and Central America indulge in the rich cultures of the region. These hotels celebrate their destination with locally made handicrafts and decor, regional culinary and spa offerings, cultural excursions and surf lessons, and tours of ancient ruins and cenotes. With accommodations so enmeshed in the environs, you’ll soak up the locale even from your luxury tent on stilts.
Casa Las Tortugas
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Just two hours northwest of the high octane crowds of Cancun lies Isla Holbox—a 26-mile long and 1-mile wide, under-the-radar island that only the most in-the-know travelers are privy to. Spend languid days at Casa Las Tortugas boutique hotel, embracing the beauty of barefoot living, while swaying gently in hand-woven hammocks and listening to the soothing sounds of waves lapping the shores.
The rooms are simple; however, the artistry lies in the details—artisanal linens and light fixtures, hand-painted ceramic sinks, and upcycled driftwood furniture all emulate the essence of the laidback nature and tranquil vibes of the island. The hotel is a destination itself, so you may find it difficult to want to venture beyond the walls of this private sanctuary as you’ll find everything you need right here. A palm-fringed pool, yoga studio, wellness spa, and a trio of restaurants emphasizing local and organic ingredients (try the Lamb Terrine at Luuma or Holy Fish at Mandarina) all allow you to indulge and enjoy the boho-beach vacation of your dreams.
Nestled in the Valley of Xaagá, known as “The Valley of Silence,” is Casa Silencio—a 16-acre luxury retreat that’s an effortless blend of craft and culture. With its own on-site distillery, Casa Silencio is where the ancient traditions of mezcal meet a modernized vision of design. Each of the six minimally-designed guest suites takes on a personality of their own, albeit with a common thread: Each room is outfitted with furnishings, features, and textiles made by local artisans, craftspeople, and emerging artists. Casa Silencio isn’t just a destination for relaxation, it’s an experience for the senses. Sip and savor the sweet and smoky profiles of Silencio’s exquisite mezcal. Breathe in the elements of nature. Drink in the breathtaking views of the agave-studded valleys while the sounds of nature create a serene soundtrack.
Though Casa Silencio is less than a mile from ancient ruins, petrified waterfalls, and mystical caves, the hotel itself rests on a remote enclave, where tranquility abounds. Feel the dopamine effect as you unearth surprises at every turn at Casa Silencio, like the indoor/outdoor dining bar that features ethereal views and a 17-ton, 53-foot table, or the secret after-hours hangout spot, called the Rhino Room.
Mexico City, Mexico
Art lovers flock to Mexico City to see its 20th-century murals, but how many hotels can boast one of their very own? Downtown Mexico, a 17-room member of Design Hotels occupies the 17th-century Palacio de los Condes de Miravalle, which is blessed with a 1940s fresco, called The Holocaust, by Manuel Rodríguez Locano. Throughout the property, colonial-era architectural elements—such as barrel vault ceilings and volcanic stone walls—blend seamlessly with geometric brick room dividers, a dazzling vertical garden, and mid-century modern furniture by Don Shoemaker.
Thanks to its location, just two blocks from the Zócalo, the turmeric-yellow lounge chairs by the rooftop pool offer a front-row view of the church domes of the Centro Histórico. The building also houses Azul Histórico, a restaurant known for its Oaxacan mole negro, and Downtown Beds, a sister design hostel, where dormitory rooms are located in the palace’s old servants’ quarters.
Ignacia Guest House
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is a bustling, vibrant metropolis, and Ignacia Guest House, situated along the tree-canopied streets of the ultra-hip Colonia Roma neighborhood, is its expertly-realized respite. A refurbished 20th-century estate house, this tiny charmer is named for the home’s original housekeeper, Ignacia, who worked there from the 1920s. With only five uniquely designed suites, staying here is an intimate, almost emotional experience. Guests feel as if they’re wandering through history, albeit through a decidedly contemporary lens.
While one guest accommodation, the Negra suite, is housed in the original structure (as well as the lobby, dining room, and kitchen), the newer building houses the other four, with warm, subtly luxurious interiors, including modern marble bathrooms and elegant antiques, seamlessly integrating past and present. The Guest House kitchen prepares breakfast daily, featuring delectable pastries, classic Mexican offerings like sopas, tamales, and chilaquiles, fresh juices, and strong coffee. The outdoor patio is a quiet oasis with an array of artistically arranged cactus abutting a rectangular concrete fountain, dotted with tiny tables surrounded by verdant plantings, including a fruit-bearing orange tree.
Nayara Tented Camp
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Those childhood family camping trips were never this indulgent. In the ultimate in sustainable tourism—that’s the watchword in Costa Rica these days—Nayara Tented Camp reclaimed a once-deforested cattle ranch back to rainforest status. You’ll find 21 luxury tent units on stilts and platforms built into the hillside here, affording stupendous views.
With a canopied king bed and two daybeds, each airy, tropical-themed luxury unit sleeps four. Unwind in your private plunge pool fed by area hot springs or head down to the full-service gym and spa and yoga pavilion. Take the complimentary breakfast served on your private terrace. For lunch and dinner, you have access to a range of cuisines (Costa Rican, Latin, Asian) at two nearby sister Nayara properties, or branch out to the area’s varied dining scene. Nayara takes its inspiration from the famous luxury African safari camps. There are no lions and giraffes, of course—this is Central America, not Kenya—but you will see no-less-enjoyable monkeys and birds to add to your wildlife list on the trails. We recommend using the guides here. You’ll be forever amazed at their ability to spot that sloth high up in a tree.
Paradero Todos Santos
Todos Santos, Mexico
Take a drive less than an hour north of San Jose del Cabo and make your way to Paradero Todos Santos in the Baja California Sur peninsula of Mexico. With 355 days of sunshine, this laidback surf town is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Nestled on over five acres of unspoiled land, the adults-only property prides itself on being a high-design landscape project first and hotel second, as evidenced by seamless outdoor and indoor living areas that blend effortlessly into the surrounding landscapes.
You’ll find five distinct ecosystems out here, from the 200-year old Cardon Cacti to the Sierra La Laguna Mountain range, and pristine beaches along the Pacific coast. Nature’s sunbaked tones inspired the property’s design, inviting guests to connect with the natural surroundings. This immersion extends through to the curated experiences that are at the heart of Paradero Todos Santos. Baja taco tours, guided hiking and mountain biking along the Pacific coast bluffs, surf excursions, farm tours, and yoga classes are all included in your stay. Delve deeper into wellness and discover centuries-old healing rituals with a temazcal ceremony, a healing ritual, or find your calm in the half-moon-shaped infinity pool facing the high desert mountains.
Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa
Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica
Nestled in the jungles of Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica, sits this rainforest oasis. And sure, Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa checks several of the Oasis Boxes (a swim-up bar and lush tropical surroundings, for starters) that many resorts of this ilk do. But what sets this affordable yet luxury-minded resort apart is its famed thermal spas. Situated in the backyard of a literal volcano, these ecological wonders are what the resort is known for. Ranging in temperature from 72 to 105 Fahrenheit, this is real thermal water, naturally heated from the Arenal volcano. Guests can relax in the sprawling spa sanctuary and receive access to the adults-only jungle lounge hidden behind the pools, Shangri-La.
Afterwards, retreat to the resort’s minimalist quarters relaxed and renewed. The Rainforest Room boasts a two-person hot tub in the unlikely event your soaking needs haven’t been met. Tabaćon also boasts two incredible restaurants, and you can expect to see furry neighbors like coatimundis scampering around the property while you dine on Mussels Cocotte at Tucanes. Adventure awaits here in the form of mountainous ATV tours daring rainforest treks through the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges. Just passing through? Spa passes are available to non-guests as well.
A new independent gem with just 18 rooms in downtown Mérida, Unknown Hotel is a flora-filled urban retreat that makes guests feel more like locals than tourists. The goldenrod yellow exterior is easy to spot and rooms are affordable, even the ones with private plunge pools. The larger outdoor pool is a great place to meet new international friends while sipping a refreshing welcome cocktail of the day.
Continental breakfast of sweet concha bread and fresh fruit is included, so you can fuel up before exploring. The young, local staff have great recommendations for food, drink, and shopping. You’re within walking distance of hotspots like Casa Thö Concept House and MUGY (Museo de la Gastronomía Yucateca). Decorative accents in guest rooms and handicrafts for sale in the lobby are all made locally, celebrating Mayan culture with a contemporary twist. Unknown is a comfortable homebase for exploring the Mayan ruins and cenotes throughout the Yucatán, and the hotel can help arrange tours and transportation too.
Guatemala’s second Relais & Chateâux hotel—and the sister property of Casa Palopó on Lake Atitlán—opened last summer just outside of the Baroque city of Antigua, within a six-acre garden that looks out toward a horizon dramatically dotted with volcanoes. Often vibrating with the calls of tropical birds, the lush grounds include a spa, a pool lined with potted plants, and a pond that bursts into color seasonally with the blossoming of lotuses. Elegantly restrained yet homey, Villa Bokéh’s estate is filled with inspired design touches, such as brightly colored vintage textiles, monkey-shaped candle holders, handmade bird tiles, and works from the owners’ private art collection.
Guatemalan chef Álvaro Perera, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America before working at Noma, runs the greenhouse-inspired restaurant, where dishes include such tropical-tinged specialties as tuna tartare with roasted pineapple and mandarin ponzu and ravioli made with güicoy, a Maya heirloom squash.