Oozing charm, culture and tradition, the colonial city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, in Chiapas, sits in a fresh highland valley in the Mexican hinterland. Its cobbled streets, markets and upscale eateries depict an easy blend of modern ways and ancient traditions. Many of the hotels are boutique delights that have breathed new life into centuries-old houses.
Location, location, location. Sightseeing types who want to be in the heart of the city’s must-sees will be happy here. The pastel yellow cathedral, with its atmospheric candlelit interior, covered in gold leaf, is a minute away, and all the key museums and architectural delights are also within walking distance. The hotel itself is a 1940s neoclassical colonial building with 20 large and elegantly furnished rooms, with bathrobes and espresso makers as standard.
If you like a spiritual side to your hotel stays, then check out Bo Hotel. Inside the centrally located Venetian-style building is a space inspired by songs about the elements of life sung by the local indigenous people. To the traveler this means earthy colors, raw textures and fabrics creating a kind of rustic minimalism. Restaurant Lum (it means earth in Tzotzil) is a cozy space with walls lined by log piles. It serves delectable Mexican dishes with wild flavor combinations: try the octopus in green mole served with zucchini, garlic cream and burnt avocado.
Wellness warriors should book an experience at the temazcal in the hotel spa; this ancient indigenous ritual sees guests head into a womb-like hut under the guidance of a temazcalero. They lead a ceremony involving Mother Earth’s hot volcanic rocks sprinkled with herbs. Once your energies have been cleansed, head back to one of the 20 large and luxurious suites, each a picture of natural woods set against vibrant colors. The balcony boasts bird’s-eye views across the clay roofs and tree tops of this beautiful city.
History and culture buffs will be pleased with the position of Hotel Ciudad, which fronts the city’s main square. Step out of the door to find the custard-colored cathedral on one side and the Museo Mesoamericano del Jade, a museum showcasing mesmerizing Mayan jade masks and jewelry, on the other. This neoclassical-fronted hotel is typical of colonial Mexico on the inside; the rooms open onto an inner courtyard peppered with plant pots of leafy tropicana.
History hounds will savor this beautiful colonial building set in the heart of San Cristóbal. Built as a rest house in 1740, it has been declared an official historical monument. Back then it was positioned on the main route into the city providing a place for travelers to take a break. It’s now a glorious hotel with 40 rooms, spacious relaxing gardens and a regal reading room.
Eco-warriors will feel at ease in this gorgeous little boutique hotel. Faded turquoise, pink and green color washes complement the extensive use of natural woods in eight individually furnished eco-chic rooms. All feature upcycled furniture (bedside tables carved from tree trunks) and textiles from local indigenous communities that the hotel supports. During renovation, 95 percent of the wood used was FSC certified and most of the tiles, windows and heavy, carved doors were reconditioned from the previous building. The restaurant, which has panoramic city views, cooks with vegetables and herbs grown in the hotel garden.
Arty types will enjoy Casa Mexicana’s commitment to filling its space with art, particularly folk art, alongside a pleasing plethora of potted tropical greenery. The owners invited many of their talented friends to create pieces inspired by the city, the result is pottery, sculpture and pictures displayed throughout the rooms and public spaces . Bedrooms in this colorful colonial hotel are spacious and all open onto the garden or private courtyards.
Want to live like a local? You’ll certainly get a sense of authentic Chiapas lifestyle in this unique boutique space. The architectural style is retained as a traditional casona home, a higgledy-piggledy series of steps and stairways leading to rooms off the tiled central courtyard. Each has its own personality, with carved objects, embroidered headboards, altars, crosses and masks adorning the walls and surfaces. It’s so relaxed here, it’s as if you are staying with a family member.
Seekers of simplicity will enjoy the peace and elegance of this well-positioned hotel. Just a couple of minutes’ walk from the town’s central park and close to many of the museums, there’s still an air of peace in this hideaway hotel. Take refuge in the calm courtyard, a top spot for reading a book or just pondering life among the plants. The cool little café next door serves upscale coffees and meals. Order your breakfast from here and the hotel staff will collect it and deliver to your room.