Mérida has a wide range of accommodations to fit every budget. While there, we were invited to stay in two of the city’s top-ranked luxury boutique hotels. Each has its own personality and offers a different lodging experience that we are delighted to share with you.
1. The Diplomat Boutique Hotel
The streets of Mérida’s historic downtown are a mystery. Pastel-colored walls are flush with the sidewalk everywhere you go. You see a door and windows but have no idea what’s on the other side. As we discovered on a real estate tour, it could be a dilapidated fixer-upper or a gorgeous mansion with a pool and gardens.
As we wandered down a nondescript residential street, it was no surprise that our only clue that we had arrived at The Diplomat Boutique Hotel was an old VW with the hotel’s logo emblazoned on the side.
We were welcomed as old friends at the front door by Sara and introduced to her husband, Neil, and their young son. The two owners shared their story of leaving behind their life in Canada and spending 2 years renovating the five-suite property before opening in 2014. Their flawless attention to detail is evident everywhere you look.
Interesting snacks and individual cooling face towels (Mérida is hot!) were waiting for us as Sara gave a brief orientation to the property as well as recommendations for restaurants.
She then escorted us to our spacious poolside suite, The Paramount, which felt grand with its 20-foot ceilings. Sara and Neil designed the hotel’s wrought-iron beds and chandeliers and selected Colonial-style furnishings, eclectic yet tasteful, from local antique shops.
Our bathroom was elegant and impeccably clean. We instantly loved the oversized, walk-in shower, as well as all the upscale amenities provided.
After we were settled, Sara offered us margaritas (yes please!) and made a reservation for our evening meal. Since the other guests were out and about that afternoon, we enjoyed having the entire place to ourselves.
We visited the small gift shop stocked with unique local items and discovered an honor system bar with a variety of craft beers and wines. To our surprise, a complimentary tequila station offered some unusual selections for our indulgence.
After a fantastic meal at Apoala, sitting by the pool with a tequila nightcap was the perfect ending to a relaxing day in this beautiful oasis.
Our super comfy bed tempted us to linger the next morning, but the lovely pool right outside the door with its waterfalls and tropical foliage beckoned. Plus, we wanted to experience the daily coffee and tea service, which included sparkling wine for mimosas and Baileys — a nice touch.
We knew breakfast was included, but nothing could have prepared us for the extravaganza Sara brought to our table — an Instagram-worthy board overflowing with fresh focaccia, delicious cheeses, exotic fruits, eggs, and nuts. Epic!
Sara and Neil have put so much thought and effort into creating an understated level of luxury for travelers to the Yucatán that’s highly personal. Our stay at The Diplomat Boutique Hotel was beyond perfection and we loved every minute of it!
2. El Palacito Secreto
El Palacito Secreto means “The Secret Palace” in English. And sure enough, as soon as you pass through the front door of the El Palacito Secreto Luxury Boutique Hotel, you’ll feel like you have stumbled upon a hidden treasure.
The stunning French architecture, mosaic images, and hand-made pasta tiles used throughout the property reflect a laudable attention to detail. The common areas have such a timeless elegance, we were stunned to learn that the property has only been open for a few years.
Beyond the spacious lobby, we immediately spotted an inviting swimming pool. After being out all morning exploring Mérida in June’s oppressive heat, we couldn’t wait to spend the rest of the afternoon cooling off and taking advantage of this perfect amenity.
All 12 suites at El Palacito Secreto are luxurious and uniquely decorated. We stayed upstairs in the magnificent Marie Antoinette Suite.
The antique furnishings, gorgeous fabrics, stained glass, and artwork were tastefully opulent. A large, private terrace overlooked the manicured courtyard surrounding the pool. An oversized bathroom with a soaking tub was an unexpected treat.
Opening the French doors onto our terrace, it seemed as if we were really in France. Sacré bleu — we felt like royalty!
We put on our bathing suits and paid a quick visit to the honor bar before settling into poolside chaise lounges. To complete the illusion that we were staying somewhere in the European countryside, Belgian pilsners seemed the perfect choice.
Relaxing by the beautifully designed pool that afternoon was like being transported to a private, exclusive manor — so decadent, so peaceful.
A lovely spa on site offers a wide range of tempting services. Instead, we decided to toast to the sunset from our terrace with a bottle of wine and reflect on a glorious day.
Early the next morning, we donned robes and were back on the terrace drinking coffee and listening to the birds sing as a cool breeze rustled through majestic palms. If this was a dream, we were hoping it wouldn’t end.
When we made it downstairs, a table beside the pool was already set for our breakfast. The meal was delicious and thoughtfully plated. We lingered a while because we just did not want to leave!
El Palacito Secreto combines timeless elegance with outstanding service. Our visit was a truly magical experience that we will long remember!
More Economical Options
Casa Del Maya Hotel And Spa
This lovingly restored Colonial home is TripAdvisor’s #1 rated bed and breakfast in Mérida. Mayan influence is everywhere, from the elegant décor to unique spa treatments to the names of each of the hotel’s six spacious rooms. Guests rave about the gourmet breakfast and convenient central location.
Casa Vagantes Montejo
Located only a block from Mérida’s iconic avenue, Paseo Montejo, this stunning Airbnb is a small historic home totally remodeled and decorated with loads of interesting details. It features a king-sized bed overlooking the terrace and a small plunge pool in the private backyard.
Hotel Palacio Maya
Peacocks wander the beautifully landscaped grounds of this conveniently located property. The two-room Presidential Suite with a king-sized bed, large terrace, and city views will set you back only a little over $100 a night.
About Mérida, Mexico
Rich in culture and history, Mérida, Mexico, has become an increasingly popular destination for both tourists and expats. Founded by the Spanish in 1542 on the site of the Mayan city T’ho, Mérida is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán.
Part of Mérida’s appeal is its location. A nonstop flight from Houston or Miami takes only 2 hours. You can drive to the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico in 30 minutes or to the breathtaking Mayan pyramid of Chichén Itzá, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, in an hour and a half.
Another relates to safety, a sore subject for Mexico generally. According to CEOWORLD, Mérida is the second safest city on the American continent. Additionally, it ranks as the 21st safest city in the entire world!
Then there’s the gastronomy. Anyone who has been to Mexico knows that the food is fabulous. But many travelers are not aware that each of the country’s 32 states has its own unique cuisine. Yucatán culture is a blend of Indigenous, European, Lebanese, Asian, and African influences, all reflected in the local food.
Perhaps the area’s most traditional (and delicious) dish is cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish marinated in sour orange and achiote. It is normally served with yellow corn tortillas, red-pickled onion, refried black beans, and habanero chilies.
Lime soup may not sound that appetizing, but we promise after your first taste of sopa de lima, you’ll exclaim, “OMG, this is incredible!” It’s a simple soup made with turkey broth (oddly, turkey is more common than chicken in this area), lime juice, and an array of seasonings topped with tortilla strips.