Soft sands, cerulean waves, zesty cuisine, ancient civilizations -- finding a reason to travel to Mexico isn't difficult. However, picking the perfect place to stay is another task altogether. Escape to an intimate boutique hotel or retreat to a sprawling all-inclusive resort? Book a palatial suite with unobstructed ocean views or steal away to a colonial-style hacienda with soaring archways and classic courtyards? With so many lodging options to choose from, it's hard to know where to start. But one thing's for sure: Finding the right hotel matters.
That's where U.S. News & World Report's Best Hotels rankings come in. Our editors have evaluated more than 300 luxury hotels and resorts across Mexico, analyzing industry accolades, expert opinions, ratings and guest reviews. Based on this unbiased methodology, we have identified the properties that consistently earn high marks across the board -- these are the luxury lodging options that appear on U.S. News's inaugural ranking of the Best Hotels in Mexico.
The 10 hotels listed below represent the very best of Mexico, outshining the competition with their unique styles, inspiring settings, lavish amenities and unparalleled customer service. These retreats vary from brand-backed resorts to independent boutiques, and they can be found anywhere from lauded resort hotspots like Playa del Carmen and Cabo to historical cities like Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende.
See the full list of the Best Hotels in Mexico»
Tucked away in Mexico City's refined Polanco neighborhood, the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F. impresses guests with its upscale amenities and serene ambiance. But according to General Manager Ricardo Acevedo, this Four Seasons's greatest asset of all is its staff. "Our employees are very warm, genuine people and they really take care of the guests," he said. As for the property grounds, Acevedo calls this colonial-style hideaway "an oasis of tranquility." A landscaped courtyard with a bubbling fountain sits at the heart of the property, creating a beautiful centerpiece for the hotel. Take advantage of the Four Seasons's coveted real estate with a stroll through Chapultepec Park, located just a short walk from the hotel. To help you relax and unwind after a day on the town, the Four Seasons touts a spa praised by guests for its signature treatments.
Cabo San Lucas
Courtesy of Esperanza
Set along the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, about 5 miles east of Cabo San Lucas, Esperanza boasts a wide array of indulgences, from an oceanfront sculpture garden to a scenic infinity pool. This Relais & Châteaux outpost houses Zen-inspired amenities for those seeking a hearty dose of R&R, including an award-winning spa and a yoga studio (where you can take complimentary classes). According to General Manager Marc Rodriguez, guests come here to immerse themselves in nature and revel in the resort's "magic tranquility." But it's not just the atmosphere and amenities that distinguish Esperanza from other Cabo hotels. When asked what sets Esperanza apart from the competition, Rodriguez said "it's the employees and it's the genuine hearts that they have." Couple that with top-notch cuisine and stylish guestrooms, and it's easy to see how this Cabo resort impresses visitors time and time again.
Just 4 miles northwest of Ixtapa on Mexico's Pacific coast sits the Capella Ixtapa, a seaside escape that melds traditional Mexican décor with contemporary panache. Here you'll find 59 suites outfitted with thatched-roof terraces, private plunge pools and rainforest showers. This Capella property also features a cozy library and two freshwater infinity pools, while the 6,000-square-foot spa impresses with treatments like Desert Clay Purifications and Sun Baked Stone Massages. "[It's] a beautiful, romantic, cozy hotel," said Eliezer Quinones, the resort's general manager. "The privacy is so amazing and the views are so astonishing." Capella's legendary customer service further enhances a stay here. "We are consistently personalizing the service and the product for our guests," Quinones explained. "There's a sense of value and respect and they feel that they are part of the family."
Playa del Carmen
Courtesy of Rosewood Mayakoba
Embraced by pearly sands and verdant jungle, this Maya Riviera retreat is nothing if not enchanting. Built from limestone and wood, Rosewood Mayakoba appears to meld into its environment, allowing guests to truly experience -- not just admire -- their surroundings. The neighboring El Camaleón Golf Course and the on-site Sense spa provide a heightened sense of luxury, while tequila samplings and the in-house restaurant's local cuisine offer a taste of Mexican culture. Graeme Davis, the resort's managing director, notes that this Playa del Carmen resort's amenities appeal to a variety of traveler types. "Rosewood Mayakoba offers something for every guest. Whether they are seeking a beach vacation, spa retreat, golf getaway or cultural immersion, we have it all." Meanwhile, visitors can't stop raving about the spacious suites, which come with private sun decks and heated plunge pools.
Perched along Zihuatanejo Bay (about a mile south of Zihuatanejo on Mexico's Pacific coast), La Casa Que Canta lures serenity-seekers with its magnificent views and impressive amenities. The saltwater pool is the real showstopper here, boasting striking sea and cliff vistas and a peaceful atmosphere. But that's not all this Mexican hideaway has going for it. According to Teresa Arellano, a member of La Casa Que Canta's management committee, the resort distinguishes itself from competitors with its unique architecture and its attention to detail. Graceful arches and exquisite Mexican artwork are shaded by palapas (thatched roofs) to create a serene ambiance. The accommodations also drip with romance and refinement, with personal terraces and, in some suites, private plunge pools. Outside the well-appointed digs, you'll have access to two on-site golf courses and a peaceful spa -- two top allures, according to recent guests.
5. Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués
Courtesy of Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués
Sitting high above the Pacific Ocean on a picturesque Punta Diamante bluff, Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués's calling card is undeniably its inspiring scenery. "Anywhere you walk, you have an encounter with nature," said General Manager Ricardo Suárez, who also claimed that the resort's exclusive environment fosters romance. "This hotel is love. This hotel is romance. That is what this hotel is all about." If you came to Mexico for a romantic occasion -- such as a honeymoon or anniversary -- the hotel staff will help facilitate a magic moment, providing everything from chilled wine to floral arrangements to help set the scene. "Many hotels have beautiful views, but no other hotels have our team and our people," Suárez said. "Our people serve with love. We love what we do and we do it with love."
4. Capella Pedregal
Cabo San Lucas
You know you're someplace special when the only way to get there is through a 1,000-foot-long tunnel carved into surrounding bedrock. Illuminated by elegant iron chandeliers, the tunnel provides "one of the more dramatic entrances to a hotel," said General Manager John Volponi. Situated between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo along the southern coast of the Baja Peninsula -- where the Pacific collides with the Sea of Cortez -- Capella Pedregal complements its exclusive location with lavish amenities, top-notch cuisine and a warm atmosphere. According to Volponi, "You have a feeling from the architecture, the food and the ambiance that you're in Baja." Volponi cites Capella's employees as another reason why guests love staying at the resort: "They're warm, caring and sincere about what they're doing," he said.
Punta de Mita
Courtesy of The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort
At the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort you'll have access to three infinity-edge pools and two neighboring Jack Nicklaus signature golf courses, both of which offer fantastic views of western Mexico's Banderas Bay. When you're done catching rays or spoiling a good walk, indulge in a decadent treatment beneath a shady canopy at Remède Spa. Should you crave more adventure, arrange an eco-adventure tour or a whale-watching excursion through the hotel concierge. Regardless of how you spend your days, General Manager Carl Emberson assures that you'll feel replenished. "The resort features discerning service, exquisite accommodations, thoughtful amenities and spectacular grounds. It energizes, rejuvenates and refreshes the mind, body and spirit," he said.
San Miguel de Allende
Tucked away in the heart of this charming village in central Mexico, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende's colonial-style retreat overlooks colorful façades, cobbled streets and graceful church spires. Managing Director Alfredo Renteria guarantees you'll find an atmosphere reflective of the country's heritage, referring to the property's hacienda-inspired architecture as "most representative of Mexico." Meanwhile, the 67 guestrooms and suites mirror the artisanship found throughout San Miguel de Allende with their local artwork, wood-beamed ceilings and intricately crafted furnishings. While the traditional style and authentic vibe of the Rosewood retreat is certainly one of its greatest perks, according to Renteria, "Our best asset is our people. We always go one step [beyond] guests' expectations."
Cabo San Lucas
Courtesy of Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort
If you're looking for the perfect place to celebrate a romantic occasion, you can't go wrong with Las Ventanas al Paraíso. This Rosewood resort, roughly 13 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas, specializes in making special moments memorable. "We are so eager to really create this wonderful experience for the guests and make the visit very personal," said Las Ventanas's managing director, Martein van Wagenberg. Canoodling couples can revel in total bliss as they ride in horse-drawn carriages or charter yachts on the Sea of Cortez. But it's not just duos that fall in love with this picturesque escape. Luxury-seekers can lounge beneath private beach cabanas or retreat to the spa for sumptuous signature treatments like desert stone massages or milk and honey wraps. If the amenities don't make you swoon, surely the exclusive ocean vistas from your lofty private patio, terrace or infinity pool will.
-- Liz Weiss