The Hotelito

Todos Santos, Baja California, Mexico Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Relaxed seclusion and a warm welcome at this colourful, architect-designed boutique B&B, a showcase for Mexican Modernism
With its strong angular lines and contrasting hues - think cobalt next to crimson and lavender and fuchsia - you might think The Hotelito would be a hard-edged, over-designed sort of a place. But renowned British interior designer Jenny Armit, who arrived here via Spain and LA, has created a haven of harmony and tranquility in this intimate inn. Striking Modernist style buildings are set amongst tropical plantings, and filled with beautiful design touches.

Her insistence on top quality materials means that the 4 colour-themed cottages are supremely comfortable; each has blissful beds, hammocks and a shaded outdoor terrace with loungers. There's also a spacious 3-bedroomed rental home overlooking the paddock. Further lounging opportunities await beside the saltwater pool; and you're just a few minutes walk from the stunning and usually deserted beach of La Cachora. Breakfast is taken on a terrace filled with primary colours; you can gorge on home-grown mangoes as hummingbirds drink their fill from bright bougainvilleas. There are yoga and Pilates classes, horse-riding on the beach, not to mention the fabulous surfing (and whale-watching) which put Todos Santos on the map. Brilliant.

Highs

  • This is a uniquely conceived and beautifully executed example of modern Mexican architecture
  • The sleek saltwater pool is a welcome addition, with its funky electric-blue loungers
  • Host Jenny is inspirational, warm, down to earth, and exceedingly helpful
  • Service is friendly and unpretentious
  • It's just outside town in a peaceful location overlooking palm groves, and close to the beach

Lows

  • It might feel crowded if all of the cottages are occupied: the pool and courtyard gardens are shared
  • You'll have to go into town (a mile's drive or a dusty 20-minute walk) for meals other than breakfast
  • La Cachora beach is not really safe for swimming, but others nearby are
  • You'll need to book well in advance for peak periods, including Christmas

Best time to go

The best time of year is late November to June, when temperatures are balmy and the whales are visible. It can get hot in July and August (although dry desert heat not full on humidity), followed by storms and possible hurricanes in September and October.

Our top tips

Keep some empty space in your suitcase if you are keen on acquiring any of the arts and crafts created and sold in Todos Santos.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Eco
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4+1
  • Breakfast only
  • Children of all ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Horse riding
Room: Casa Azul

Rooms

The four cottages are nestled within an immaculately raked gravel courtyard of tropical palms, jasmine and bougainvilleas. Thanks to a clever layout, all feel secluded, with their own private seating areas, hammocks and colourful loungers.

The colour palette is arresting and yet soothing: exteriors in the eponymous colour and, inside, a feature wall on the same theme. Casa Rosa, where we stayed, was predominantly pink with splashes of deep sea green, turquoise and violet.

The two smaller cottages, Casa Azul and Casa Verde, are nearer the dining terrace, have queensize beds and face west. The Garden Cottages, Casa Rosa and Casa Violeta, have kingsize beds and additional garden space.

All beds are draped with muslin netting, plump pillows and blissful mattresses. Rooms have tea and coffee making facilities, a mini-fridge, a Mexican ceramic filtered water dispenser, blinds, beach towels, fresh flowers and a very useful information pack about the hotel and vicinity. High ceilings help keep rooms cool although ceiling fans and air-con are in situ.

The stylish shower bathrooms have lava stone sinks, bathrobes, shaving mirror and hairdryer, as well as plenty of towels.

The villa, Casa de Chilicote, has three ensuite bedrooms: two light-filled rooms decked out in sunshine yellow and pastel pink with kingsize beds and balconies, and one smaller one off the terrace. Its large open-plan living room comes with fireplace, big sofas, and TV and DVD player. As in the cottages, you'll find vintage collectibles that Jenny has collected through her career, as well as artworks from modern pieces on the living room walls to black and white photographs of Mexico in the bathroom.

Desert gardens and terraces wrap around the building, which is next to the horse paddock; you also get a laundry room.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Filtered drinking water
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Pool and beach towels
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast (8.30-10.30am) is the only meal served daily at The Hotelito and is taken on the scarlet and hot-pink-walled terrace, sitting at vivid blue tables shaded by white umbrellas.

We feasted on fresh tropical fruit, ever-flowing tea and coffee, squeezed orange juice, home-made muffins and marmalade, toast and croissants. You can also order yoghurt and granola. Eggs are cooked to order, we liked them mexicanas con tortillas style on traditional Mexican patterned plates, or you can choose bacon and eggs, huevos revueltos.

For lunch, head to the supermarket in town to buy provisions, then grab the cooler box and beach towels (provided) for a sizzling picnic on the beach. Or stroll 10 minutes up the road to La Esquina for hearty Mexican fare. For evening drinks, an honesty bar is in place - mix yourself a drink and write it in the book.

Otherwise it's a short drive or 20-minute walk into town for evening meals. Choose from taco stands on the main street, Caffe Todos Santos on Calle Centenario for Mexican dishes plus great pastries and coffee, or Il Giardino on Calle Degollado for oven-fired pizzas and other Italian fare. The best restaurant is commonly considered to be the Cafe Santa Fe also on Calle Centenario, which has a lovely shrouded dining terrace and specialises in Italian dishes, or Michaels' which serves Asian fusion cuisine.

If you're staying at Casa de Chilicote you get a fully equipped galley-style kitchen, complete with fridge freezer, microwave, stove and dishwasher. You dine al fresco at a large table on the terrace just outside the kitchen door; there's also a dining table tucked to the side in the large living room, and a barbecue outside. A welcome breakfast basket includes marmalade, bread, fruit, tea and coffee. Olive oil and vinegar and other basics are in the house.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Chef on request
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating: Breakfast Terrace
Activity: La Playa de La Cachora

Activities

  • Explore delightful Todos Santos, a Pueblo Magico, for its galleries, artisanal crafts, cultural events and laid back vibe

  • Beautiful La Cachora beach, at the end of the road, is often deserted save for Brown Pelicans and seagulls; ideal for strolling, sunbathing and magnificent sunsets, but not recommended for swimming

  • Drive 5km south of Todos Santos to discover La Palma beach and eponymous palm grove, which is also deserted but safe for swimming

  • Grey whales migrate November-March: whale-watching tours can be arranged, and you can also glimpse dolphins

  • Jenny is a keen equestrian: there are stables on the premises and an exercise paddock adjacent. Lessons in dressage are available or you can take the horses out for a canter along the beach

  • Todos Santos is a renowned surfing destination, seasoned practitioner Mario runs the local surf school; Los Cerritos, San Pedrito and La Pastora – all legendary surfing sites - are nearby

  • Stroll along La Cachora to Poza lagoon for excellent birding: herons, frigatebirds, hummingbirds and orioles. We thrilled to watch the nighthawks' spectacular aerial displays at dusk while sipping our sundowners at the bar

  • Go kayaking, there's a local operator who can kit you out

  • Day long boat trips can be arranged to Espiritu Santo island in the Sea of Cortez, for picnics on deserted beaches and swimming with sea lions

  • Take a tour into the mountains with experienced guides and botanists

  • Witness the amazingly moving spectacle of newly-hatched Leatherback Turtles being helped back to the ocean; various rescue programmes are in operation locally

  • Indulge in a massage: we can recommend Margarita from the village

  • Yoga classes are held three times a week

  • Chill out on loungers by the very stylishly snazzy saltwater swimming pool

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Dressage instruction
  • Fishing
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Whalewatching
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome subject to reservation. Older kids will love the beach, the horses and the dogs, as well as pool. But the hotel is not really set up for younger ones.

Family friendly accommodation:

Families with teenage kids should take Casa de Chilicote which has three bedrooms and can also take another two extra beds.

Kid Friendly:

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