El Palacito Secreto


El Palacito Secreto opened its doors in April of 2018 and it is a royal retreat here in the tropical city of Merida. Arriving at a seemingly normal house with a simple facade, one would never guess what is behind the doors. It truly is a secret palace right in the heart of the Centro. The owners Paul and Martine are originally from Ireland and Belgium came to Merida several years ago to follow their dream of living abroad. Originally they bought the property and were planning on building a private residence. However, as the project became bigger the idea of converting their residence into lovely luxury lodgings slowly emerged. Paul and Martine imagined and created the concept of Palacito and with the help of architects, they were able to see it come to life.


Each detail was created and designed by Martine from the mosaics in the backdrop of the pool and the crowns of the buildings, to the winding staircase banister and the antique adornments decorating each room. The tall pillars seen in the pool area are made of solid natural stone. There are eight luxury suites all named after both modern day and historical European princesses--Suite Isabella, Suite Beatrix, La Suite Grace, to name a few-- and are decorated with antique furniture that originates from Europe and brought to the peninsula in the 17th and 18th century. The antiques were mostly bought and restored here in Merida; although Martine could not find everything that she had imagined, so in some cases, she designed furniture pieces such as some of the beds and had them made.


El Palacito is family run. Martine’s daughter Anita works as the manager and concierge. They have two in-house chefs from Mexico and Argentina that offer a breakfast buffet for their guests which I was lucky enough to enjoy in the outside dining area. The vibe here is very personal and you can feel all the passion that this family has poured into this endeavour.  It’s not open to the general public, but if you get a chance to stay here as a guest you will be giving yourself a special treat.


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Hotel Boutique Casa de Campo Conkal


Casa de Campo Conkal is located outside of Merida across the Periferico, in the pueblo of Conkal. This is a family-run hotel outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. It opened just last year and is a family run business. Originally from Sonora, Mexico husband and wife team Carlos Andres Gutierrez and Leticia Mendivil de Leon and their four children Karla, Ana, Luis and Carlos came to Yucatan with the dream of opening a hotel in nature where their guests can escape the city in a private rustic chic hotel. Carlos’ sister has a “sister” boutique in the Estado de Mexico and they wanted to create a similar concept here. As you arrive you feel as if you are an invited guest in their country house. They warmly welcome you as soon as you arrive and get you settled in and comfortable right away. The grounds are spacious and there is a beautifully inviting pool and communal dining area that catches your attention as soon as you walk through the gates. There are hammocks swinging in the breeze and the quiet sounds of the countryside are a welcome change from the traffic of the city.


There are six luxury cabins in total and families are welcome. They have wifi, but no television so that the guests can use their time relaxing and enjoying the company of their family or friends. It is a place to relax in a hammock, swim or play board games. Guests can choose to eat all meals at the hotel. Leticia and Carlos cook for their guests and will cater to whatever their dietary or craving might be! They also like to share old family dishes and recipes such as beef and potato baked with wine, queso relleno as well as a variety of international dishes. Although they do not offer tour services, if guests want to go exploring, the gracious hosts will help them to organize a trip. And they encourage a visit to the historic village of Conkal where you can find the only museum of religious art in the state. Guests can also visit the store La Victoria that is over 100 years old, walk to the village centro where they get bread baked in a stone oven, paletas (popsicles) loved by the locals or other traditional Yucatecan treats such as corn covered in mayonnaise, cheese, and spicy seasoning.


Casa de Campo Conkal continues to be a work in progress and they hope to expand and offer Mayan massages, a sweat lodge, restaurant and a space for weddings or larger family get togethers. The Gutierrez's want to make this hotel as green as possible. It’s a lovely option even if you are just looking for a weekend getaway from Merida.  As the family tells us and as we personally felt, their visitors arrive as guests and leave as friends.


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Rosas & Xocolate Hotel Boutique and Spa


Rosas & Xocolate Hotel Boutique and Spa is one of Merida’s most well-known boutique hotel because of its perfect location on Paseo de Montejo, the several awards it has won, including Food and Travel award for Best Urban hotel in Mexico,  and the fact that it is a large pink building that draws your attention as you pass-by. It is also known for its fabulous restaurant headed by Chef David Segovia which is frequented by both guests and locals when they want to have a special meal out. The Moon Lounge Rooftop Bar features live jazz with incredible musical talents such as Mauricio Bonfilio`s Jazz Sensitive and María Teresa Gómez and her Latin American Trova. I hear the music from the street sometimes as I walk by any Wednesday through Saturday evening and many nights--as if called by an irresistible siren--I can’t resist going in to have a drink or something to eat and listen to the music. It’s enchanting and good for the soul. Notably, Rosas & Xocolate is one of the only places in the city that hosts top-caliber jazz musicians so many nights of the week.


The hotel derives their name “Xocolate” from the Nahuatl word xocolatl, which comes from xocolli meaning “bitter” + atl “water” which is how the chocolate drink was described when it was originally consumed. Chocolate is the underlying theme in the hotel. The bathrooms are equipped with handmade chocolate soaps, while their award-winning spa offers xocolatherapies in many forms using a local paste made with 100% pure cacao.


The spa offers an especially unique experience because it is a “sensory” spa which uses hands-on techniques inspired by ancient Mexican cultures and traditions. Herbs, spices, essential oils, roses and,of course chocolate are used to create both physical and spiritual benefits. The spa is available to both staying guests and the general public with reservations made in advance.


Rosas & Xocolate has seventeen rooms in total, each with a unique theme. They all have individual open-air bathtubs, and some have private balconies to sit and enjoy a glass of vino while looking over the grand avenue of Paseo de Montejo. A tequila-bar featuring some of the best tequilas in Mexico graces the lobby. This hotel has become a hub for elegant events such as gastronomic festivals, intimate business dinners or meetings. It is definitely one of the most Instagramm-able places because its architecture and color. Well worth a visit if you live here or are coming into town. 


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Casa dos Lirios


Casa Dos Lirios is a Boutique Bed & Breakfast right in the heart of the Centro in North Santiago area. This is a lovely guest house with 5 rooms. The warmth of the owners Sue and Steve and the aroma of fresh olive, roasted garlic and rosemary bread baking in the oven greeted me, as I walked in the front door. Needless to say, it was a divine welcome. Ranked in the top 10 on TripAdvisor, Casas Dos Lirios is a charming place to stay while visiting Merida. It’s tucked away behind the blue facade of a house built in the 1900’s. You first enter the main house and encounter the living room decorated with paintings from Havana, Cuba. Then you continue through the dining room and into the kitchen which is set against a backdrop of Talavera tile common in traditional Mexican kitchens. Guests are free to use the main house area; however, most enjoy time outside in the garden area where there the four beautiful suites are located.


The rooms are spacious and decorated tastefully with earthy colors, Mexican style decor, and fresh flowers. The ceilings are tall making the space feel spacious and outside of each room is a table and chairs so that guests can relax quietly and read or converse.In front of the rooms is the garden and pool area and outdoor corridor lined with large arched columns. It is an oasis where you can hear the birds in the trees, cool off in the pool and feel the nice north breeze blowing through the hall.


Sue is a great cook and prepares a personalized gourmet breakfast for each guest every morning. She also loves to bake bread as a hobby and has real gift as a baker. I was lucky enough to try poached eggs benedict over smoked salmon slices and freshly home baked pumpernickel bread with a side of pineapple and strawberries. She also let me taste her triple berry baked oatmeal with greek yogurt on top. What a delightful way to finish up the morning. This is a perfect option if you are looking for a tranquil hideaway, in walking distance to the Centro and a personal touch. 


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Ya’ax Boutique Hotel


Ya’ax Hotel Boutique, meaning “green” in Maya, opened its doors in Merida, Centro on Calle 57 between 52 and 54 about a year and a half ago. This elegant hotel and art gallery has five luxury suites each decorated with a very welcoming nature-oriented theme. The large rectangular pool lines the back area, where most of the suites are, as an alluring focal point of the hotel. The hotel’s walls, constructed with the adhesive resin of the chocum tree, hold a fascinating part of Merida’s history. The building was at one point, one of the many residences of the notorious henequen plantation owner and leader among the oligarchs of Yucatan, Olegario Molina Solis. Check out the in-depth article here on the fascinating history of this property. This renovated property combines traditional Yucatecan sophistication-rich in its Mayan roots-with sleek, modern accommodations and comforts allowing the visitor to feel the true essence of contemporary Merida.


Ya’ax Boutique hotel is not only for overnight guest to enjoy. The hotel also offers a restaurant, bar, and spa open to the public. As you enter through the front door into the lobby you see Cho’oj Restaurant, run by chef Luis Estrella. Ch’ooj means “blue” the color of mystery and boasts Mexican, Caribbean, fusion contemporary cuisine. They call it a gastronomic gallery because the patrons can see the chef preparing the meals behind a glass wall. Chef Estrella uses only fresh ingredients from  Yucatecan and the Caribbean. The food is incredible. It is a lovely spot to treat yourself or a loved one for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just opposite the restaurant is their small, sophisticated bar. It’s a perfect to stop in for a cocktail before dinner (or after!). Both the bar and restaurant are open every day except Monday. Their spa is an intimate space for couples or individuals and is open to the public by reservation. The spa offers a wide range of services such as massages, exfoliation, and aromatherapy.


A large patio area is open to use if a restaurant guest wants to dine in the open air. It is also regularly used events such as art openings and charity fashion shows. Before becoming a hotel, this building was used as a residence and an art gallery by a Yucatecan painter/sculptor, a cousin of the current owner. To keep with this tradition, Ya’ax functions as an art gallery exhibiting different artists. Exhibitions change every six months. Currently on display in the hotel are the works of Manuel Miguel from Oaxaca, and in the bar Yucatecan photographer Pedro Tec’s exhibit: Donne Maya. This hotel is definitely worth a visit, it is stunning and is a quiet oasis in a busy part of town. 


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A Look Into Beautiful Accommodations Around Merida, Yucatan 

One of the great things about living in this city are all the beautiful boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts and specialty lodging that is offered in the Centro of Merida as well as all around Yucatan. There are so many lovely places to stay and enjoy the architecture, the ambiance and feel the essence of the rich history and traditions of this state. The accommodations we feature below all have a very personal touch. The owners have gone to great lengths to show their passion for details and attention to their visitors. Each place has something special to offer which makes it unique.​

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