Hacienda Los Laureles

San Felipe del Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico Book from

Reviewed by Lucia Appleby
Modernised 19th-century hacienda in a garden setting on the fringes of Oaxaca’s historic centre
Los Laureles is situated in San Felipe del Agua - an upscale but authentic Mexican neighbourhood 10 minutes north of Oaxaca’s historic centre. The area takes its name from the colonial aqueduct that supplied water to the city for many years.

The hacienda has a health and beauty focus, with a gym, a spa, a heated Jacuzzi and an outdoor pool. The stone igloo in the garden is a temazcal, a sweat lodge with medicinal herbs and traditional chanting. And if you feel in need of a little spiritual cleansing, there’s a native shaman on hand to banish away evil spirits. The 25 white-washed rooms, serene atmosphere and spacious gardens are designed to make you feel as soothed as possible, and attract hard-working business people and freewheeling travellers alike. After a day exploring the archaeological sites of Mitla, Monte Albán or Yagul, it's the perfect sanctuary to return to.

Highs

    There are peaceful and beautifully-kept gardens with mountain views
  • The ambiance is calming and unhurried
  • The spa has a temazcal steam bath, a hot tub, a pool and a mini-gym
  • There’s a good restaurant serving regional Oaxacan dishes

Lows

  • Not for lovers of minimalism. Furnishings are traditional in keeping with the age of the property
  • WiFi access is patchy and there’s no guest computer
  • It's a 10-minute drive into the centre of town - you'll need to take a taxi or have your own hire car
  • Room rates don't include breakfast

Best time to go

Come at any time of year - Oaxaca has a blissfully moderate climate all year round, though you might experience some rain if you visit between May and October.

Our top tips

Climb marked paths up the San Felipe mountains in the nearby Benito Juárez National Park for great views and lung-fulls of fresh air. Don't be deterred by the guards at the park's entrance - hikers are allowed, although they may try to tell you otherwise. A few pesos usually sets them straight (hacienda owner Peter Kaiser is looking into stopping this practice).

Great for...

Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Hacienda Hotel
  • 25
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome, but not ideal
  • 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
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Hacienda Los Laureles has been restored by its gentlemanly German owner to house 25 rooms, which open onto a long shady porch and overlook a lush, flower-filled garden. This traditional colonial style has been maintained in the rooms' dark wooden furniture and richly coloured, hand-woven Oaxacan bedcovers.

The Deluxe Rooms are on the upper floors and have balconies; the newer Superior Rooms, where we stayed, share an outdoor terrace and are set in a separate building by the pool. There are also several more expensive Master and Junior Suites, which have a sitting area, a Jacuzzi bathtub and a private patio.

Inside, the old-world ambiance created by the chintz cushions and white net curtains is paired with modern technology such as satellite TV, CD players and dedicated outlets for laptops and mobiles. We had a large bathroom with a bathtub and a shower; Deluxe Rooms have showers only. But all rooms have stacks of fluffy white towels, hairdryers, bathrobes and complimentary French toiletries. Nice touches like bowls of fresh fruit and welcome messages written in flower petals on the bed complete the picture of a hotel unafraid of maintaining an aristocratic air.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The hacienda's restaurant, Los Cypress, is next to the garden and serves food in an informal atmosphere, with tables on the terrace and in a glass-fronted area with ceiling fans. There’s also an impressive wood-beamed dining room with an antique cedar table - some scenes in the Selma Hayek movie Frida were filmed here.

The dinner menu has a good range of Oaxacan dishes - we liked the 'mix n' match mole' and experimented by pairing pork chops with a yellow mole and chicken breast with a creamy almondero. Breakfast is varied too, with Mexican-inspired dishes like omelette with a spicy tomato salsa, international favourites such as eggs benedict, and a selection of freshly squeezed juices.

If you fancy a meal away from the hacienda, the Bismillah restaurant is just across the road - the Colombian chef makes a great ceviche. And of course there are plenty of restaurants, cafés and market stands in Oaxaca's historic centre, a 10-minute drive away.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Head to the spa for a temazcal treatment with a native shaman, or indulge in an aromatherapy session or massage

  • Rent a bike and tour around Oaxaca’s historic centre. Stop en route to explore the city’s colonial churches and to marvel at the treasures inside the Museum of Oaxacan Culture

  • Go shopping at one of Oaxaca’s famous handicrafts markets

  • Visit the ruins at Mitla, Monte Albán and Yagul. All were important sites for the pre-Colombian Zapotec culture and lie within an hour’s drive of the city

  • See the oldest tree in the Americas in the grounds of a church at Santa María del Tule, 9km from Oaxaca on the road to Mitla. Estimates of its age range from 1,200 to 6,000 years old

  • Visit the mesmerising ‘frozen waterfalls’ (natural rock formations which resemble gushing water) at Hierve el Agua, 70km east of Oaxaca

  • Hire a car and tour the villages surrounding Oaxaca

  • Laze by the pool or relax in the Jacuzzi

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

Under 8s stay free, though Los Laureles isn't ideal for children - the focus is more on adult pampering. Cots and babysitting are available on request. Over Christmas and New year no children under the age of 14 are allowed.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

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

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