“A gorgeous, modern Mayan palace, just 10 minutes' drive from the ancient ruins of Palenque”
The passion behind Chanabnal is evident everywhere - from the exquisitely etched friezes depicting the couple’s courtship, to the carefully prepared plates of typical (and wonderful) Chiapan dishes. Elizabeth oversees the restaurant and its attentive staff; Raphael is a Mayan scholar who loves to share his knowledge of this fascinating pre-Hispanic civilisation. Together they have created an enchanted dwelling, fit for any vacationing monarch.
- A tranquil oasis, tucked away in luscious jungle yet only 3km from the famous ruins; close to Yaxchilan and Bonanpak sites too
- Authentic Mayan architecture from the massive palapa thatched roofs to stone-stepped pyramids
- Large and luxuriously decorated suites of rich fabrics and ornate redwood furniture
- Pretty swimming pool set amongst rocks and cascading waterfalls; sun loungers with waiter service
- Authentic Temazcal (Maya sweat bath) lodge plus body massages and beauty treatment area overlooking lagoon
- Expensive; the Presidential Suite, which is set in a separate Mayan house, is very expensive (but is a perfect honeymoon splurge)
- You’ll have to drive if you want to eat lunch or dinner elsewhere - luckily the food at the guest-only restaurant is excellent
- Aside from the ruins, there isn't much to see around Palenque, and the town itself has few attractions
- Breakfast not included in the rates
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
Imagine if the Medicis gave the Mayans decorating tips: walls are a burnt apricot, offset by terracotta stone floors and oxblood wood furniture. Beds are baroque, dressed in Egyptian cotton, on podiums and piled high with embroidered silk cushions stacked against varnished headboards. Include marbled sinks, ceramic sculptures, pewter mirrors… we loved the Italianate opulence of the suites.
That doesn’t mean they aren't comfortable. Inside our sumptuous Deluxe Suite we lounged on gold-satin sofas grouped around crimson flowers on a lustrous redwood table; outside on our porch we were lulled by birdsong while rocking on wicker chairs. Above us were the 2 Junior Suites with slightly larger balconies, the whole thatched-roof structure surrounded by succulent foliage. At the back of the giant palapa that houses the restaurant and reception were 2 more Deluxe Suites - good for families as they either have two double beds apiece or an extra one can be added, and an indoor sitting area.
Between these two buildings sits the Presidential Suite: a coral-coloured bungalow with square pillars supporting a pyramid roof of magnificent Mayan sculptures. Its bed is an elevated 4-poster bed draped with white muslin; its covered veranda cool with sleek cane furniture, textured wall art and tropical plants.
Since our visit, a Queen Suite has also been added - we're yet to personally view it, the private plunge pool sounds perfect for lazy afternoons.
All the suites have air conditioning and ceiling fans - there are screens on the back-facing and side windows, but mosquitoes are kept firmly at bay with the snug-shutting wooden louvres. Bathrooms are big, with tiled shower rooms and Botanics toiletries; mini-fridges are stocked with complimentary (except for Junior Suites) wine and beer; the WiFi is falter-free and there is an iPod docking station in the Presidential Suite. A Mayan queen wouldn’t find fault.
- Air conditioning
- Coffee maker (on request)
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Internet access
- Iron (on request)
- Mosquito net
- Safe box in reception
- Satellite TV
Breakfast at Quinta Chanabnal might be fresh fruit with honey and a mango lassi or it could be motuleno - eggs, cheese, ham and plantain in a creamy pea sauce with chillies. Whether you like a light or filling start to your day, served in your room or in the dining room, the hotel is accommodating. It will even prepare breakfast as early as 6am, for those guests who want to visit the Palenque ruins in the cooler morning hours.
On the road to the ruins is the hippy hangout of El Panchan, a tree-canopied collection of cabanas and cafes - a good lunch stop here is Don Mucho, especially for the wood-fired pizzas. If you are skipping the sun temples and sun worshipping by the hotel’s pool instead, simple lunches such as chicken club sandwiches and liquidas (fruit juice and milk) will be brought to you by smiley waiters.
Those same waiters will be quietly hovering amongst the candle-lit tables at dinner, perhaps pouring you a glass of Mexican Cabernet before your starter of sopa azteca arrives. The menu features traditional dishes of the Tabasco and Chiapas region and is printed in English, Spanish and Mayan. Me yik' ot jo' ox is Mayan for lamb in annatto (saffron) sauce - delicious in any language. Evening meals are heavy on the meat front (marinated rabbit, beef tongue in chipotle gravy) but there is seafood (fish wrapped in banana leaves or shrimp with coconut) and vegetarians can be catered for - it’s helpful to let Elizabeth know if you are one.
One healthy aspect of Quinta Chanabnal is their water - it comes from an underground spring and is safe to drink, unlike most of Mexico’s. Bottled water is also available and is complimentary.
- Organic produce
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Time travel back to the 7th-century - the Classic Mayan ruins of the ancient city of Palenque are a wonder, and time clambering the crumbling stones and wandering through the verdant jungle can feel quite mystical
- Employ an expert guide through Elizabeth - the unsettling sacrificial scenes at the Bonampak Murals (2 hours' drive) will be explained by Raphael, who speaks English, and is an ardent interpreter of this intriguing civilisation
- Wade under waterfalls - bring your swimsuit to the cascades and rapids of Agua Azul, which are spectacular and make a fun day trip with kids
- Take a Temazcal - the hotel’s authentic Mayan sweat lodge creates steam from hot stones and herbal waters and is a wonderfully cleansing experience; try the clay body rub
- De-stress - professional masseurs offer full body, reflexology and facial massages in a lovely outdoor space by the lagoon
- Slough off your skin - mud, chocolate, cocoa-cream and honey-oat face masks and body rubs will exfoliate the day’s dust away
- Soak up some rays - snacks and drinks can be brought to the sun deck by the swimming pool and cascading waterfalls
- Go birding - the lagoon has a wealth of species to spot
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Private guided tours
- Well being
Children of all ages are welcome and all rooms can fit extra beds or baby cots, cots are free of charge.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
One Deluxe Suite in the main building is suitable for families as it has 2 double beds (as does one of the Junior Suites) and an indoor sitting area, but the Junior, Queen and Deluxe Suites can take additional people, either on rollaway beds or in an extra kingsized bed which can be placed in the room (if not already there)
Kids Activities on site:
Kids should be supervised but they are allowed to climb on the mini-pyramids and wander around the jungle grounds. There are cascading waterfalls and wading pools to play in by the lagoon, which has lots of wild birdlife.
Families Should Know:
Keep kids supervised at all times of course beside the lagoon and cascading pools - these are tropical grounds with spiny plants, insects, reptiles or small mammals.
Quinta Chanabnal is located about 2km outside the town of Palenque in Chiapas, just off the main road (Carretera Palenque) that leads directly to the ruins. Chiapas is the most southerly of Mexico's states. It is about 10-11 hours drive from Mexico City, a distance of about 880km.
Palenque (5km; private or small charter flights only). The nearest commercial airport, which connects to Cancun, Merida, Mexico City etc, is Villahermosa International (2hrs from Palenque). Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
From the Airport
From Villahermosa, either hire a car (see below) or take a bus to Palenque. You can also get a taxi or arrange a transfer, see Rates.
First class bus services operate regularly between Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas (5 hrs), Villahermosa (2.5 hrs) and Tuxtla (7 hrs) and leave at least twice daily to Oaxaca (14 hrs), Campeche (5hrs), Merida (9 hrs), Cancun via Chetumal and Playa del Carmen (12hrs) and Mexico City (17 hrs). For more info on bus schedules click here.
Having the use of a car makes exploring further afield easier, but watch out for the potholed roads. See our car rental recommendations.
A trip to Palenque is usually combined with a few days in San Cristobal de las Casas either before or after depending on whether you are coming from the Yucatan (Palenque first) or Oaxaca (San Cristobal first).
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Mexico and getting around
- Palenque 5.0 km
- Villahermosa International 140.0 km VSA
- Beach 150.0 km
- Shops 2.0 km
- Restaurant 1.0 km