4 Boulevard Mijares, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Classy and comfortable, this boutique inn pleases guests more interested in culture than the Cabo beach scene. There's no flash and glitz here. Tranquility and privacy prevail.
Los Cabos is packed with over–the–top resorts with fancy spas and restaurants. Yet little Casa Natalia consistently garners prestigious awards and rave reviews. Guests love the solitude, simplicity, and artistic touches that make this casa feel like home.
I travel around Los Cabos every few months, staying in the most luxurious resorts along the coast. Yet I always spend the final night of my trip at Casa Natalia. I look forward to seeing co–owner Nathalie Tenoux's smile as she greets her guests. Dinner prepared by her husband Loic Tenoux is a must, as is a peaceful siesta in a hammock hidden behind bougainvilla–draped planters. They may be European from birth, but the Tenoux team's creation exudes a sense of Mexican hospitality.
At first glance, you'd think Casa Natalia is housed in a historic structure. The façade is deceptively simple, with its unadorned arches and carefully saced cacti and palms. The interior is similarly understated and was designed in a modern Mexican architectural style with sleek walls, indoor and outdoor courtyards and judicious splashes of vibrant blue, yellow and pink. The hotel's space is narrow and long, with 14 guest rooms in similar sand-colored buildings with two or three levels. Water flows through a channel and over walls along the opposite side of the lawns.
Each room has a name echoing its personality and décor. The inn's subdued style continues within the rooms and suites. Collector–quality pieces of folk art decorate white walls with spashes of vibant color. Block–shaped windows with wood doors add sunlight and air above low beds wrapped in white linens. Chairs and tables are handcarved in light woods with suns and Handcarved rustic chairs and desks give a Baja look to the airy spaces; few gadgets clutter tables and shelves.
The one thing I miss in Casa Natalia's rooms are bathtubs. The deep, large showers are great, mind you. But some of us do like a long soak. One rooftop suite has a hot tub on the large terrace, and the hotel's pool is the perfect size for floating aimlessly. Somehow, I manage to enjoy myself just fine without my tub. Bathroom sinks hold yellow and blue Talavera soap dishes, cups and other sinktop containers; shelves to one side provide plenty of space for personal toiletries. A long closet takes up one wall, with sections for hanging and stacking clothing and cleverly hidden safes for stashing your valuables.
The rooms have televisions, but I rarely switch mine on. I prefer to sit (or swing in a hammock) on my private terrace while reading or dreaming. Breakfast is delivered to the terrace each morning without disturbing the guests—a sliding glass door with heavy curtains separates outdoor and indoor spaces. The DVD players and library do come in handy on warm afternoons when I want to hide in air–conditioned comfort. There's shuttle service to a picturesque beach club in the Corridor, in–room spa services, and a thoughtful concierge who can come up with just about any kind of tour you could imagine.
The hotel's dinner restaurant, Mi Cocina, is one of the finest in Los Cabos. Sleek wooden tables are set far enough apart for quiet conversations in the open terrace overseen by fat-cheeked angels mounted on the walls. I have a tendency to order several appetizers, unable to resist the octopus with citrus vinaigrette or shrimp spring rolls with watermelon salsa (speaking of watermelon, don't miss the melon-flavored martini). Chef Loic Tenoux adds splashes of French and Mexican ingredients in his innovative entrees—lamb, beef, chicken, and fish are all tempting on his menu.
Casa Natalia celebrated its opened in 1999, yet many Cabo regulars are unaware of its presence. It's not on one of Cabo's many unswimmable beaches (Los Cabos is a beach resort with few safe places to play in the water). There aren't any rowdy nightclubs or chain restaurants in the neighborhood. Instead, Casa Natalia anchors the increasingly gentrified historic disrict of downtown San José del Cabo. Nathalie and Loic have been spearheading a movement to pretty up San José since they first moved into the neighborhood. With Casa Natalia as one of the earliest artistic and innovative businesses, San José has gradually grown into the cultural hub of Los Cabos.
Note that children under age 13 are not permitted at the hotel.
Web Address: www.casanatalia.com
Total Number of Rooms: 14 rooms and 2 suites
Published rates: $165-$555 plus taxes and fees
Review by Maribeth Mellin, photos by Timothy Scott and Casa Natalia