Hacienda Chichen

Near Merida, The Yucatan, Mexico Book from

Reviewed by Lucia Appleby
Spend the night amongst Chichen Itza's Mayan temples, in this beautiful 500-year-old colonial hacienda
Just steps away from Chichen Itza's Mayan temples sits this stunning 16th-century hacienda. Ancient temple stones were used to build its base over 500 years ago, and the rooms are filled with sculptures and artwork that evoke the atmosphere of the ruins. If you want to see Chichen Itza by day, by night and best of all, in the early morning, there's simply no better place to stay.

Set amidst eco-friendly tropical gardens, the hacienda is as peaceful now as in its heyday - sit in a rocking chair on your porch and all you'll hear is birdsong. The buildings are typically Mexican: bright yellow walls, open archways and uneven stone paths. And as you'd expect, colour is everywhere - in the terracotta pots, glorious pink bougainvillea and vast jungle of leafy plants. Shaded pathways lead to the 28 rooms and suites that sprawl amongst the grounds. Beautifully furnished and relaxing, they'll make you want to stay far longer than you intended. And when you discover the sumptuous spa, we bet you'll change your flight...


  • The hacienda's proximity to the Chichen Itza ruins means you can beat the tour buses (it's a 2-minute walk via the hotel's private entrance)
  • Owners Belisa and Bruce have fully refurbished the old family mansion to create a luxurious haven for guests and wildlife
  • The eco-friendly grounds are stunning: 300 acres filled with exotic insects, birds and plants
  • There are guided bird-watching tours around the grounds...
  • ... and an Olympic-size swimming pool to cool off in afterwards
  • The spa offers traditional Mayan treatments


  • There are no TVs or phones in the rooms, and the remote location means you may struggle to get a mobile signal
  • It's difficult to access Mérida without a car, and there's no airport transfer service
  • Although children are welcome, it's the serenity of this place that's so attractive and you might feel self-conscious if you bring lively toddlers
  • The restaurant's prices are rather high - but so's the quality of the food

Best time to go

You can visit at any time of the year; the prices generally remain the same. Weather-wise, this area is temperate all year round, though temperatures rise from May to August and September and October tend to bring the heaviest rainfall.

Our top tips

Don't miss the chance to learn about the hacienda's fascinating past. A historic site in its own right, it was originally a cattle ranch and later became the home of archaeologist Dr Edward Thompson and his team. He led the legendary dredging of the Cenote Sagrado, where gold ornaments, human bones and sacrificial knives were found. The Carnegie Institute established its Maya Archaeological Expedition headquarters here in 1923, to excavate Chichen Itza.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Hacienda Hotel
  • 28
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Honeymoon Room


Dotted around the grounds are 12 rustic cottages, many of which housed Chichen Itza's excavation team in 1923. Fully refurbished and extended to accommodate 28 guestrooms (all named after people connected with the dig), they're stylish and contemporary, yet still exude ancient charm. Outside, each room has a terrace furnished with hammocks, rocking chairs, cushions and aromatic candles.

Filled with hand-woven textiles, wooden carvings and colourful locally-made cushions, the otherwise white rooms are bursting with colour. The ensuite bathrooms have a tub or shower, and organic toiletries and fluffy bathrobes are provided. Aside from air conditioning, fans and hairdryers, there are no mod cons - although the absence of a TV is more understandable than the fact that the rooms have no phones but offer room service!

Standard Rooms come with 2 smallish double beds, a table and chairs. Honeymoon Rooms overlooking the central gardens are the same size as the Standard Rooms but feature one queensize bed. The bigger Master Suites have either 2 double beds or one kingsize bed, as well as indoor and outdoor sitting areas and tea/coffee making facilities. The plushest room is the Catherwood Suite, which has a Mayan-style tub in its bathroom and a large patio area.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi


With an on-site vegetable garden and fruit orchard, you can be sure you're getting the freshest of ingredients in every meal. Breakfast is typically Mexican: fresh fruit and coffee followed by eggs. Huevos rancheros (a mix of fried eggs, tortilla chips, chilli sauce and refried beans) sounds scary, but it's strangely tasty so it's worth being brave.

The lunch and dinner menu, served on the terrace or under the stars in the garden, includes a range of Mexican favourites and regional Yucatacán dishes (remodelled to suit American palates), together with some international surprises like gazpacho. Foodies will enjoy the delicious lime soup, shrimp ceviche, and red snapper with parsley sauce. Children and vegetarians are also well catered for, with a mixture of healthy salads, club sandwiches and meat-free lasagnes.

The quality of the food is excellent, and although the waiting staff definitely run on Mexican time, the only real downside is that the cost of a meal is expensive (presumably the assumption is that most American tourists won't notice much of a difference in dollars to what they'd pay back home). But that's the price you pay for being able to roll out of your bed in the morning straight into the ruins.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Explore the awesome Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, just minutes from the hacienda - the hotel has a private entrance. It's also worth venturing out early before coach loads of tourists arrive (the site is open from 8am)

  • Take a guided bird-watching tour around the hacienda's grounds - watch out for over 150 species, including rose-throated becards and yellow-faced grassquits

  • Cool off in the hacienda's Olympic-size swimming pool, or lie in a hammock and enjoy the peace

  • Buy some jade jewellery or hand-dye weaves at the on-site Toh gift shop - everything is locally made and proceeds go to the hacienda's ongoing wildlife conservation project

  • Admire the ancient buildings in Valladolid, the capital of the Yucatán in colonial times (a 30-minute drive away)

  • Visit the San Antonio de Padua convent in Izamal (a 45-minute drive away). Built on top of 3 vast, partially buried Mayan pyramids, it's filled with ancient murals and was once visited by the Pope

  • Spend a day in Mérida (a 1.5-hour drive away). Stroll around the pretty cathedral and cobbled streets, then treat yourself to some gorgeous hand-embroidered furnishings

  • Visit nearby Ikkil and Balancache and go swimming in the underground cenotes (sink wells)

  • Bliss out at the Yaxkin Spa, which offers a range of indulgent Mayan treatments, massages and beauty therapies. We'd recommend the 'Stress Relief Ritual' (which includes a banana leaf wrap and a petal-filled foot bath), the 'Cocoa Bliss Spa' (the body is brushed with chocolate and coconut oil, then covered in orchids) or the 'Sacred Mayan Hot Stone Massage'

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures


Children of all ages are welcome.

Best for:

All ages


Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Kid Friendly:

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