Trips Of A Lifetime: Mexico

Mexico is a huge country bursting with colour and vitality. From the lively capital to vast deserts, ancient ruins, whale watching, stunning landscapes and glorious beaches – not to mention the superb cuisine – it has something for everyone. Here, we’ve rounded up some of Mexico’s highlights and the best places to stay. Plus, we suggest three tours for different budgets that showcase this remarkable land.
Four Seasons Mexico City


Vibrant and busy Mexico City offers an exciting mix of history, culture and modernity. It is definitely worth staying here a couple of days, despite it being very busy and, at times, quite polluted. In the city centre, visit the vast main plaza Zocalo on which sits the cathedral, the ruined Aztec Templo Mayor and the world-class Museum of Anthropology. To the south lie the charming historic districts of San Angel and Coyoacan – head here to browse art galleries, relax at a pavement café or visit the former homes of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Polanco and Condesa are the best areas to find a hotel. Teotihuacan, just 30 miles from the city centre, is one of the best extant Aztec cities and worth a visit.

Where To Stay

Uber luxe: The Four Seasons is in a great location, near Chapultepec Park, the Museum of Anthropology, and the trendy neighbourhoods of Condesa and Polanco. The 240 rooms are spacious and face into the peaceful inner courtyard, which provides a welcome haven from the bustling city outside. 

Luxe: Las Alcobas is a sophisticated boutique hotel housed in an elegant building in fashionable Polanco and close to the city’s main attractions and boutique shops. The on-site spa is the ideal spot for some pampering after a day out.

Affordable luxe: The five-storey Maria Condesa has 16 bright and airy rooms, all with views of the tree-lined Calle Atlixco. The hotel has a lovely street-level café and bar decorated with vibrant art and comfortable leather sofas. For lunch and dinner, the restaurant specialises in Mexican cuisine. Breakfast is served every morning on the rooftop terrace.

Four Seasons Mexico City


In the southeast corner of Mexico, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the region comprises three states: Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo. The peninsula also encompasses parts of Belize and Guatemala, and the area as a whole was the birthplace of the great Mayan civilisation. You’ll find hundreds of Mayan ruins, from well-known Chichen Itza and Uxmal to much smaller sites, as well as the 13th-century walled archaeological site of Tulum, a cluster of ruins mounted on the cliffs. These, together with the white sand beaches of the Riviera Maya that stretch from Cancun to Punta Allen against a backdrop of dense jungle teeming with flora and fauna, make the area a good destination for the first-time visitor. Though this coastline is somewhat developed, there is a vast choice of accommodation, ranging from ultra-luxe hotels to simpler rural haciendas. 

For total laidback bliss, the tiny, car-free, 26-mile-long sandbar island of Holbox, which means ‘black hole’ in Mayan, is the perfect place to unwind and can be reached by a 20-minute ferry hop from Chiquila. 

Where To Stay

Uber luxe: Set on Xpu-Ha beach, at the midpoint between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Hotel Esencia is a super-stylish and relaxed bolthole set in a majestic 50-acre estate between the jungle and the beach. Rooms are bright white with wood trimmings and colourful rugs and throws, and all have an outdoor area, some with a plunge pool. Expect to be totally pampered here.

Luxe: A laidback boutique hotel, Encantada Tulum has just eight rooms with views of the Caribbean and lush jungle gardens. It oozes calm and serenity, yet is a stone’s throw from the trendy bars and boutiques of Tulum beach, and just a bike ride from the ruins. The small restaurant serves super-fresh seafood and salads, and you can enjoy getting pampered with massages and body treatments in the open-air spa.

Affordable luxe: The three-star Maria Del Mar in Tulum is a contemporary, design-led boutique hotel set on the busy beach strip, but it shares a private beach with another hotel and has lovely comfy beach beds. Interiors are bright with splashes of colour. The 18 rooms are individually decorated and filled with locally made soft furnishings, and the suites have a balcony or private decking.

On Holbox stay at the stylish CasaSandra, which is run by an expat Cuban artist, or at the family-run Punta Caliza.

Hotel Esencia
Hotel Esencia


Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s most delightful and popular cities, is easily reached by plane from Mexico City. It lies in a high valley in the south of the country and is surrounded by fascinating Zapotec ruins and traditional villages. Founded by the Spanish in 1521 and declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987, it has retained many of its native roots among the ornate colonial architecture of the city centre. Here, you can discover romantic churches, including Santo Domingo and the city’s cathedral, tree-shaded plazas and some of the best Mexican food. Stroll through the cobbled streets and watch life unfold while enjoying a coffee at a pavement café. It is also close to the fascinating pre-Columbian site of Monte Alban and a good stopping off point on your way to Chiapas (see below), jungle-clad Palenque, one of the largest and most famous of the Mayan sites, and the surfing town of Puerto Escondido.

The state of Chiapas boasts long, sandy Pacific beaches, steamy tropical jungle, rugged mountains and wonderful Maya ruins, as well as a rich indigenous culture that is still very much alive. Base yourself in the colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas.

Where To Stay

Luxe: Quinta Real Oaxaca is a historical gem in the heart of the city. The converted 16th-century Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena has 400-year-old frescoes, ancient archways and patio courtyards, but all the modern comforts you’d expect from a luxe hotel. Rooms and suites are decorated in a Mexican colonial style, and face either the interior garden areas or picturesque streets. There is a lovely swimming pool and three restaurants, including the original kitchen which is now the breakfast room.

Affordable luxe: Stylish Casa Oaxaca is also in the heart of the city, in a converted colonial house. It has seven individually decorated rooms – simple white walls, wooden furniture with jewel-tone textiles. You can relax in one of the hammocks on the secluded terrace or take a dip in the pool. The hotel prides itself on its gourmet food which combines traditional Oaxacan cuisine with modern flair –  be sure to book in on arrival.


In the north of the country lies the remote and rugged Copper Canyon area, which can be reached by air from Mexico City to either Chihuahua or Los Mochis. It is home to the Tarahumara people, who still live in small settlements and caves in the canyon. The best way to see the Copper Canyon is the famous Chihuahua al Pacifico (El Chepe) train that runs between the two cities. The line hugs the edge of mountains and crosses deep ravines on its bridges, and the scenery is truly breath-taking. The train makes numerous stops along its way but the best way to explore the region is to stay in a couple of places along the route, such as the mission village of Cerocahui. At the end of your trip, get some R&R on the beaches of Zihuatanejo.

Where To Stay

Luxe: The rustic style Hotel Mirador is up at 2,300m, near the canyon’s highest point, just across the tracks from its own railway station. Seventy simple, cosy rooms and suites are set within brightly painted wood and adobe buildings reflecting the traditional style of local Tarahumara Indian homes. Each has a balcony where you can sit and enjoy the sweeping panoramic views across the breadth of the Copper Canyon.

Casa Adela


You’ll find colonial towns and cities all over Mexico – a legacy of the country’s importance within the Spanish Empire. Some of the most picturesque are in the heart of the country, about three hours north of the capital. The towns – such as San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and Santiago de Queretaro – boast beautifully restored historic centres filled with centuries-old architecture. The area has a great climate year-round thanks to its altitude. And, of course, no visit would be complete without a visit to Tequila where you can learn the art of blending and tasting Mexico’s signature spirit.

Where To Stay

Uber luxe: Perched on a hill overlooking the valley of San Miguel de Allende and with views of the Sierra de Guanajato and Los Picachos mountains,  Casa Adela is a deeply romantic and peaceful retreat. The vibe here is fresh, contemporary and spacious, with floor-to-ceiling glass, white walls and modern artworks. There are just seven suites – for the best views, opt for the Panoramic Suite or Honeymoon Suite. There is also a large hot spring-fed pool, a spa and an excellent restaurant. Start your day with a private yoga lesson then head out to explore the countryside, desert plains or one of the many Unesco World Heritage Sites nearby.  

Luxe: Casa No Name is a six-bedroom boutique hotel tucked away in the historic heart of San Miguel de Allende. The mansion was built in the 18th century and belonged to the city’s resident bishop of that time who commissioned the biblical mural that runs through the main courtyard. More recently, it was the home of fashion photographer Deborah Turbeville. Within a few paces of the hotel, you’ll find countless art galleries, historic churches, markets, bars and restaurant; once back, head to the rooftop terrace where you’ll find a cocktail bar, a spa tent and a hot tub.

Affordable luxe: Set in the Unesco city of Guanajuato with beautiful views of the Sierra de Guanajuato, the 38-room Hotel Villa Maria Cristina is a delightful 19th-century townhouse and the ideal base to discover the city’s culture, history and amazing food. After a day out, there are many quiet areas around the outdoor pool or the courtyard terraces to relax and sample some of the local cocktails. Or head to the spa which has an indoor pool, sauna, jacuzzi, treatments rooms and gym. 

Casa Adela
Casa Adela


The Pacific coast was once a playground for the Hollywood jet-set. Today, its luxe resorts, palm-fringed beaches, rainforests, mangroves, lagoons, excellent surf, lively nightlife and first-class golf courses make it one of the most popular parts of Mexico to visit. Whether you’re looking for a secluded, all-inclusive resort or a friendly local fishing village, you can find it all here. There’s also a superb range of activities including surfing, whale-watching, diving and sport fishing. The once hidden beach town of Puerto Vallarta, with its cobblestone streets and old-fashioned adobe houses, is one of the country’s most popular coastal destinations. From here, head to Costalegre, a magnificent stretch of coastline located between Chamela and Barra de Navidad. Here, you’ll discover exotic wildlife, unlimited diving and surfing possibilities as well as some excellent seaside restaurants. Or head to laidback Zihuatanejo, a collection of several small beaches scattered around a beautiful bay.

Where To Stay

Uber luxe: Set within a sprawling nature reserve by the ocean in the state of Jalisco, Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo opens its doors next month. Four Seasons has committed to protecting the reserve – 98% of it will remain undeveloped and protected. The resort, which has been built by local and regional designers and artisans, has 157 rooms and suites, many with private pools, four restaurants and bars, a golf course, a spa and gym, and an on-site working farm. There is also a discovery centre, where you can learn about the biodiversity of the area, which has more than 70 endemic species of wildlife and hundreds of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

Luxe: Set high up in a warren of colonial backstreets in Puerto Vallarta, the glamorous Casa Kimberly was originally the Spanish-style house where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton began their romance in the 1960s while filming Night of the Iguana. Today, this lovely boutique hotel has nine suites (all named after Taylor's films), each uniquely designed with a mix of modern and traditional colonial style, and with sweeping views of the Banderas Bay below, the Sierra Madre mountains behind and the charming cityscape. The Iguana restaurant is the go-to eatery in Puerto Vallarta – expect modern twists of Mexican classics and imaginative use of locally sourced ingredients. Book early!

Affordable luxe: Tucked away in a beachfront spot in the jungle outside Sayulita, Playa Escondida is a secluded romantic retreat. The 25 open rooms are housed in standalone huts built using natural local materials and have canopied beds, balconies and rustic-chic décor. Highlights include a beautiful infinity pool, massage huts and a private sandy beach, plus two outstanding restaurants with ocean views.

Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo


The narrow peninsula of Baja California stretches southwards some 800 miles from the Californian border to Los Cabos, and is flanked by the Sea of Cortez to the east and the Pacific on the west. It is home to desert landscapes and extinct volcanoes, and is renowned for surfing, diving, deep-sea fishing and whale watching. The best time to spot whales is between January and April, when species including the Pacific grey whale and the world's largest mammal, the blue whale, migrate south from Alaska. Most tourists head to the Los Cabos area for full-on glitz and some of Baja’s most luxe retreats and resorts, as well as stunning beaches and azure Pacific surf. But if you take the empty desert road north, you’ll discover the more authentic Baja. The region’s capital, La Paz, has lovely colonial buildings and beautiful beaches, and is the departure point for the Espiritu Santo Islands. In Todos Santos you’ll find a more bohemian vibe with art galleries, cafés and a rich culinary tradition. Loreto, with its centuries old Jesuit Mission, is the best place to pick up a whale-watching tour.

Where To Stay

Uber luxe: Overlooking the Sea of Cortez’s dramatic coastline on the Los Cabos peninsula, One&Only Palmilla combines traditional Mexican style and Spanish colonial design with contemporary touches. Set amid palm-fringed gardens, the rooms, suites and villas are spacious, some with a private plunge pool and uninterrupted views of the beach; there’s also a butler service to cater to your every need. We love the tequila tastings and the fine dining menu at the Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant Seared – the wagyu beef is to die for. For keen golfers, there’s a Jack Nicklaus 27-hole course exclusive to the resort. If pampering is more your thing, there’s a yoga garden and treatment cabanas around the gardens.

Luxe: The beachfront Nobu Hotel Los Cabos is Robert de Niro and chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s first Nobu hotel in Latin America. A modern whitewashed resort with four pools and a lovely, quiet beach, there are 200 rooms that seamlessly blend contemporary Japanese minimalism with locally sourced natural materials. As you would expect, the food is the star here – expect a menu of Japanese-Peruvian dishes with Mexican influences.

Affordable luxe: Within the marina in downtown San Jose, Hotel El Ganzo doesn’t have a beach and ocean location like some of the grander resorts, but it is a great bijoux place to stay with a rooftop bar, an infinity pool and its own small beach club. Individual touches can be found in the rooms which have comfortable beds, handcrafted wooden furniture and bespoke artwork; and each has a balcony with views of the marina. Breakfast is served in Ganzo Downstairs where you can also enjoy the freshest seafood dishes – think sushi, ceviche and seafood tacos. 

Want to stay off the beaten track? Stylish, family owned Villa Del Faro is literally in the middle of nowhere, overlooking miles of deserted beach. From Los Cabos airport, hire a four-wheel drive and follow the hotel’s map for the bumpy journey through the hills and desert towards the East Cape and the Sea of Cortez. On arrival, you’ll discover an oasis of eight casitas each individually furnished with Mexican furniture, family mementos and artworks. This hotel is completely off the grid: everything is run on solar power and drinking water is brought in by truck, and cleaned and purified on site. Food for breakfast and dinner is sourced locally – often from an organic farm. Stay here for complete solitude, stunning surroundings and the best margaritas.


Uber luxe: On Audley’s 15-day ‘Luxury Mexico Tour’, you’ll stay in a beautiful hacienda just outside the colonial city of Mérida; visit Chichen Itza, the most famous of Mexico's Mayan ruins; experience Oaxaca's rich culinary traditions; explore the highlights of Mexico City; and spend time on the Pacific coast exploring the town of Zihuatanejo. From £7,555pp, including international and domestic flights, transfers, all accommodation, and activities and excursions as detailed.

Click here for further details.

Luxe: On Journey Latin America’s 14-day ‘Signature Mexico: Cultural Heartlands to Caribbean Coast’ tour, you’ll visit some of the country’s most fascinating historical places and archaeological sites, including: Oaxaca and Chiapas; the Mayan jungles sites at Palenque and in the Yucatan; and Mayan Riviera beaches where you can relax on the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean. From £3,210pp, including domestic transfers, all accommodation, some meals and excursions as detailed, but excluding international flights.

Click here for further details.

Affordable luxe: Cox & Kings’ 14-day ‘Highlights of Mexico’ group tour starts in Mexico City. You’ll explore magnificent pyramids and temples, colourful colonial cities and discover the natural beauty of valleys, canyons, waterfalls and tropical rainforests. The tour ends in Chichen Itza with your flight home Cancun. From £2,895pp, including international and domestic flights, accommodation, some meals as detailed, guided sightseeing and entrance fees. Tour extensions to Copper Canyon or the Caribbean coast are available.

Click here for further details.


Mexico is a huge country, and the seasons vary by region. Generally, the best time to visit is during the dry season between December and April when there is virtually no rain. The coolest months are December to February. The wet season begins in the south in May and lasts until October. The Caribbean coast can be affected by the hurricane season, which runs from June to November.

Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at

Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily