Mexico: Old-fashioned luxury at the Hacienda Los Laureles, Oaxaca

Surrounded by the traditional Mexican community of San Felipe del Agua, a stay at the 18th Century Hacienda Los Laureles, just outside of Oaxaca, is like going back in time for a taste of provincial luxury.

The city of Oaxaca is a colonial dream with colourful buildings dripping in bougainvillea and tree-lined cobbled streets. It has everything a tourist could want: gastronomic treats, a wealth of galleries, markets selling artisan crafts and 2,500 years of indigenous history to sink your teeth into. Hotel and spa Hacienda Los Laureles is located a ten-minute drive from the city centre in an old-fashioned village, and a tranquil escape for those who like to be out of the hustle and bustle of city life.

Go up a little cobbled street, past a beautiful old church, through magnificent wooden gates and you’ll find the Hacienda, which despite renovation around 2000 has retained the atmosphere of an 18th-Century colonial home. The 23 rooms situated off a white columned arcade all look out onto the extensive and beautifully kept gardens with mango, cypress and the laurel trees, which gave the hotel its name. It has the cloistered atmosphere of a stately home, with a presiding serenity.

The rooms are all a good size. The Deluxe – the lowest price bracket – only has a shower rather than bath, but does have a sweet little balcony looking out onto the gardens. From Junior Suite up to Master Suite the rooms come with a king-sized bed, bathroom suite and living area increasing in size according to price. The décor is very traditional – white washed walls and antique furniture with carefully placed pieces of artisan work such as hand-painted ceramics. This is however, an old-fashioned style of luxury and the tired interiors are somewhat in need of a modern revamp. The cream bathroom suite is plastic, and the phones next to the bed are definitively 90s. While the overall look of the hotel is elegant, small details belie its elegance such as the shabby electric heater in the beautiful entrance hall, a stark contrast to the chandelier.

There is a lovely pool, a small gym and a well-reviewed spa. As well as the usual treatments, you can have a traditional Temezcal bath, which involves a lot of steam, buckets of cold water, shouting and bizarrely a set of maracas.  The hotel also offers extras such as cooking classes (£60) in the garden and tours.

We ate in the hotel restaurant Los Cipreses, which offers a mix of international and local dishes, but it was not exceptional. There is no 24-hour room service, and when our flight was delayed bringing us in around 11pm, they had no food options leaving us to traipse around the area at night luckily finding a little old lady cooking empanadas by the side of the road, which were scrumptious.

This is a beautiful building, and has a wonderful atmosphere, but in its price-bracket it needs to attain that higher echelon of experience where a guest feels truly in the lap of luxury, and unfortunately it just misses the mark. Though if you’re a horticulturist then it may be worth a visit just for the magnificent gardens.

Winning points:

Beautiful gardens

Lovely cloistered colonial atmosphere

Losing points:

In need of a style revamp

Expensive – for the price I would expect at least extras such as breakfast and transfers (a hefty £25) to be included.

Rates:

Deluxe: 134 – 157

Superior: 145 – 170

Junior Suite: 180 – 211

Deluxe Junior Suite: 202 – 238

Master Suite: 211 – 248

Presidential (two bedrooms and Jacuzzi): 374 – 496

Rates converted to British pounds per room per night. Minimum two nights.

Hidalgo 21, Oaxaca, Mexico

Contact tel: +52-951-501-5300, e-mail: loslaureles@mexicoboutiquehotels.com

Services spa, swimming pool, fitness equipment, parking, hotel restaurant, hotel bar, room service, business services, internet access, wheelchair accessible, concierge, air-conditioning

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