26 Ave. 16th of September, Historic Center, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
In a gorgeous mountain city that has been starved for luxury accommodations in the historic center, Casa del Alma is a welcome addition with plush rooms and a fine restaurant.
While there are plenty of evocative and interesting hotels in the center of San Cristobal de Las Casas in Chiapas, you had to head to Parador San Juan del Dio in the outskirts before to really experience a luxe room with high-end amenities. That all changed with the opening of this well–designed boutique hotel just a few blocks from the main plaza.
Entering from the street, the restaurant is on the left and there's a spacious foyer that serves as a good noise buffer before you reach the reception desk and lobby. The lobby itself is the centerpiece, with a skylight providing natural light and an architectural feature at the end modeled after one of the city's most famous buildings, the Arco del Carmen. There's an open gas fireplace in the center lit at night and plenty of comfortable sitting areas. Art displayed here is a mix of permanent photographs and rotating special shows. The mood music played throughout the day and night can be a bit annoying if you're trying to catch a siesta though as the layout means every room opens onto the lobby and has that soundtrack coming through the door.
At the rear of the building is a spa open every day, with a variety of massage treatments and facials. After a day of adventure in Chiapas, you can return here and enjoy a steam bath, sauna, or Jacuzzi. The gym is well–equipped for a hotel this size, with several good aerobic machines, dumbbells, and weight systems.
Even the smallest suites here are more than 400 square feet and they come with 42–inch TVs mounted on the wall, laptop–sized electronic safes, espresso makers, good lighting, and an alarm clock with a music player input. Air conditioning and heat both work well in this varied climate, or you can open up the windows and enjoy the fresh air. Some of the suites have balconies and all have attractive baths outfitted with L'Occitane toiletries and rain showers.
The second floor junior suites with balcony have more than 600 square feet of space and include a kitchenette with sink and microwave. These have a larger sitting area as well. The master suites are larger still and feel like a contemporary city apartment, with an extra half bath and a full bathtub in the main bath. For the mobility impaired there is a first–floor suite equipped to ADA standards.
Rooms vary a bit in the decorations and color schemes, but all are well–designed and artistic without being overly artsy. As in you can easily figure out how the light switches work and the furniture is comfortable. Wi-Fi is complimentary and works well in most rooms. There's turndown service each evening and while there's not a big staff on hand, they're helpful and there's usually at least one person around who speaks English.
El Secreto restaurant is a lovely place for a meal, with natural light coming in from the street and dramatic fixtures overhead. It looks like there's a fireplace at the far end, but then you get closer and it's actually a flat–screen TV showing a flickering fireplace. The food here is the real deal though, with terrific breakfast choices made to order each day, complimented by fresh–squeezed juices, fruit, pastries, and yogurt on a small continental buffet. Other meals feature a variety of local specialties, such as duck tacos and suckling pig with ginger and a hint of coffee. With white tablecloths, fine tableware, and good service, the only thing to fault here is that there's a disconnect between the tab here and your hotel bill: waiters want you to pay up then and there rather than taking la cuenta 10 meters to the front desk.
So there are a few quirks with Casa del Alma, but it is in a class far above other contenders in the center of San Cristobal, a true luxury boutique hotel where the best of the city is all within a ten–minute walk.
Web Site: CasaDelAlma.mx
Total Number of Rooms: 27
Published rates: $125 - $350
Review and photos by Timothy Scott