El Angel Azul

La Paz, Baja California, Mexico Book from

Reviewed by Philip Worman
A serene hotel base just 10 minutes walk from the La Paz seafront with a beautifully designed garden enclosed within a peaceful courtyard
Step off the plane at La Paz airport and you’re in the hot heart of a dusty Western… the surrounding landscape is desert, the sun beats down mercilessly on the cowering buildings, and in summer the streets of the town are deserted. But just off the Avenida Independencia is a heavenly haven from this scorching setting: El Angel Azul ('The Blue Angel'). Discernible only by a blue sign and door set in bleached white walls, this stylish hotel was a former courthouse that had lain empty for 20 years.

Scrupulously restored by the current owner, Swiss-born Esther Ammann, it has a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere, with rooms facing the cacti-filled courtyard under shaded colonnades. With shrines, sculptures, paintings, even an ensenada (clay ‘day of the dead’ skeleton) dotted about the garden, it feels more like staying in the villa of an arty friend. Esther has turned a shell into a local landmark and is definitely a cool host who know how to stay cool in a hot town.


  • This historical building has been renovated with real care and attention to detail
  • Guests in the Suite can watch the sunset over their private terrace and listen to the sounds of trickling water from the courtyard fountain
  • Despite being the capital of Baja California Sur, La Paz is a small, easygoing seaside city that's retained a colonial atmosphere. It offers excellent sea-kayaking, diving and fishing excursions in the Sea of Cortez
  • Some of Baja's most beautiful beaches are not far from town


  • Some of the courtyard rooms are quite dark, but reports suggest that the large antique mirrors Ester has hung in them make them much brighter
  • Heat can rule out much activity between noon and 4pm in La Paz, and there's no pool for cooling off
  • There's no restaurant, but Esther has lots of good recommendations and guests are encouraged to make use of the kitchen and gardens
  • No children under 12 are allowed, except for babies

Best time to go

The best time to visit is November to May, when it's sunny, hot and dry. Summer, in particular August, can be unbearably hot (although El Angel Azul gets a lot of Italian visitors at this time due to their holiday season). September and October are rainy months with a risk of hurricanes (and winds can tear through the region). June to November is best for diving, June to August for fishing, and October to April for kayaking. La Paz holds a colourful carnival during the last week of February.

Our top tips

Make sure you bring high-factor sun cream, long-sleeved shirts, and more sun cream - the sun here really can be scorching.

And keep an ear out for things that go bump in the night - according to local legend El Angel Azul is haunted, but Esther hasn't seen any ghosts since she renovated it. Maybe they're staying out of the heat...

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique guesthouse
  • 10
  • Basic self-catering (+ walk to restaurants)
  • Babies and over 12s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Suite


El Angel Azul has just 10 rooms. All have a radio, remote-control air-conditioning (essential for Mexico) and hot showers, although the power can vary according to room. Beds are simple with vivid comforters and quilts; walls are colour-washed in yellow, blue or terracotta; floors are tiled. One of the cheaper rooms on the ground floor looks onto the courtyard, which makes it a bit dark (a downside) but also quite cool (an upside).

The 9 Double Rooms have queensize or twin beds; some are more colourfully decorated than others.

The Suite is accessed by a winding staircase and has a lovely private terrace overlooking the central courtyard and the bleached rooftops of the surrounding barrio. It also comes with a queensize bed, a Bose iPod dock and a small refridgerator. As its terrace is hidden from the rest of the hotel and (most) of the nearby buildings, we would recommend it if you’re in the mood for total privacy - and there’s a sneaky miniature of tequila to get you in the spirit...

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Communal kitchen
  • Cots Available
  • Internet access
  • Radio clock
  • WiFi


As of June 2014, there are no meals served at El Angel Azul. Ester wants guests to have independence, and be able to eat as and when they please, so has opened the kitchen to all staying at the hotel (guest each have storage and fridge space). Cook yourself up a feast and sit in the communal gardens with the sound of the fountain babbling in the background and the resident cat, dog and pair of love birds wandering around your feet. There’s a grocery shop on the corner where you can buy most things you’d need, and for the items you can’t, there’s a larger store a 7-minute walk away.

For those who’d rather not fend for themselves, there’s a bakery, Pan d´Les Bakery and numerous coffee shops less than a 5-minute walk away for breakfast, and dozens of restaurants and cafes for other meals. Esther recommends Il Rustico for pizza, Nim for cool design and international cuisine, Bismarcito for exceptional tacos (not to be confused with Bismarck down the road!), and Rancho Viejo for a great range of simple but tasty Mexican food; plus she provides all her guests with a map that features a list of shop and more eateries that she recommends. La Paz’s promenade, the ‘Malecon’, is only a 10-minute walk away and has plenty of tapas grills and bars for the evening repast.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Restaurants nearby


  • Count the numerous types of cacti in the garden - use the handy guide posted on the wall to identify them - and have a sunset cocktail with your host Esther, mistress of the perfect margarita
  • Explore La Paz: in the evening, walk along the main promenade, the 'Malecon'... the recently expanded seafront squares and paths throng with tourists and locals, and the air is filled with mouth-watering smells
  • Head to one of the nearby beaches. La Paz has its own beach but you're better off heading out of town: within a 10- to 45-minute drive lie some of the loveliest beaches in Baja, with white sand and clear turquoise water. Tecolote is the largest and most popular beach in the area: after a 30-minute drive from La Paz slide into the cool blue waters of the Sea of Cortez, then sample delicious gulf salmon and garlic for lunch
  • Take a boat trip to Isla Espíritu Santo and Los Islotes. You'll see stunning rock formations, remote beaches and the largest sea lion colony in Baja, with stops for snorkelling, swimming and lunch. Numerous travel agencies can arrange these all-day trips
  • Go scuba diving: the Sea of Cortez is home to 850 species of fish, best seen from June to September. Local agencies can arrange day trips to include the sea lion colony at Los Islotes, a sunken ship, a 60-foot wall dive, reefs, and hammerhead sharks and manta rays
  • Try sea kayaking - it's one of the best ways to explore Baja's often inaccessible shores and calm waters. It's becoming extremely popular and local companies can arrange trips from 1-10 days for beginners and advanced kayakers alike (the main season lasts from October to April)
  • Have a go at sport-fishing: La Paz is famous for its marlin, dorado and yellowfin. Hire a panga with a guide and equipment
  • Go whale-watching. Between January and March, thousands of gray whales migrate from Alaska's Bering Strait to the Pacific coast of Baja. Several companies arrange whale-watching day tours that originate in La Paz and go to one of the main hotspots, Magdalena Bay, a 2-hour drive away. Prices including breakfast, lunch, transportation and an English-speaking guide

For the above activities see Rates for an idea of cost.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Private guided tours
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Whalewatching


No children under 12 years are accepted, except for babies. Over 12s are charged as adults. Baby cots can be added to all rooms on request.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

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