Maybe it's the lashings of ‘Aztec moonshine’ pulque talking, or the effects of a cleansing stay in a temazcal (steamy bath house) with ceremonial drumming, but we love spiritually stirring stay Amomoxtli. Set by picturesque Náhua and New Age-y mountain town Tepoztlán, close enough to Mexico City for a city-to-country jaunt, this hotel wears its heritage on its sleeve and shares it generously with guests. You’ll benefit from pre-Hispanic wisdom in the spa’s utterly unique cleansing ceremonies and traditional healing treatments, the kitchen keeps local hand-me-down recipes alive with wholly local ingredients – pumpkin flowers, hibiscus, huitlacoche, grasshoppers – and daily activities involve cooking to decade-old methods, or making perfumes with the flowers and plants that burst into life throughout the property. A glamorous pool and ever-present views of a temple-topped mountain help add to that hazy enamoredness you can’t help but feel here.
Get this when you book through us:
A cocktail each on arrival; guests staying two nights or more will get one US$50 credit to use in the spa and a local gift to take home
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £154.14 (MXN3,788), including tax at 16 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of 10% per room per night prior to arrival and an additional local city tax of 3.75% per room per night prior to arrival.
Rates usually include breakfast, a fabulous spread of indigenous dishes. Some daily activities (yoga, meditation) are included too, and a 10 per cent service fee will be added to your bill.
Take note of the art on the walls in the main house – it’s all made by local creatives as part of Amomoxtli’s mission to support the community. They’re available to buy if you wish and the collection changes every month. And, the main house itself is a work of art, built by the students of famed Mexican architect Luis Barragán, and you can see his signature style in the ceiling design and frameless windows. If you want to arrange a special private dinner with friends, staff will happily clear out the lounge and set a table there for you.
At the hotel
Spa with temazcal and sauna, tropical gardens, terrace, library, living-room lounge, concierge, laundry (for a charge) and free WiFi. In rooms: air-conditioning and fan, bathrobes and slippers, mosquito repellent, full-size organic bath products. Higher category rooms have a welcome platter of local fruit and a Bluetooth speaker.
Our favourite rooms
Paraiso and Torre are part of the main building and were placed to have the best view in the house, although they are by the restaurant, so may be a little noisy at times. More private are the Premium rooms which have Jacaranda-draped terraces and plenty of space inside, plus unique local objets d’art: gourds, brushes and Aztec-style tiles. The Standard room is on the cosy side, but it has sweeping sierra views from the bed. In all, much consideration has gone into getting guests their daily dose of ‘zzz’s’ and the beds are of the snooziest quality.
Why hike up to 6,000 feet above sea level when you can get a spectacular view of the mighty Sierra de Tepoztlán while floating on your back in bath-tub-warm water? The pool (open 9am to 6pm) is laid out for luxuriating, with double day-beds sunk into the water and two whirlpool baths to bubble away in, plus drinks delivered to your side.
Yes, it’s a cliché to say that spa therapists work magic, but those here seem to have a good grasp of the mystical arts. The journey to an enlightened you starts down a cobbled path to where five treatment cabins are set by a goldfish-filled pond in a palm-strewn glen. Massages and facials are offered, but they seem humdrum compared to the choice of indigenous rituals and temazcal ceremonies – transformative experiences that use native herbs grown onsite and draw on the teachings of Tepozteco elders and ancient Náhua customs. Say, spells in a temazcal (steam lodge) accompanied by rhythmic drumming, medicinal infusions and manifestations; energetic cleansing with feathers and incense; or rituals involving bathing in local elixir pulque, body wraps accompanied by animalistic chants, or sage purifying. Keep your mind wide open.
An adventurous spirit will help you make the most of what Amomoxtli has to offer – and leave any skepticism at the door. Mozzies do tend to appear in the open spaces, but the hotel kindly provides an organic spray to ward them off, which you’ll find in your room, as well as a sanitation pack and keepsake notepad made with recycled paper.
Keep an eye out for the hotel cat, who used to be feral but now seems very much at home.
The hotel is for over-13s only – although really it’s best suited to adults. So, los niños are a no-no.
The hotel shows mighty deference to their ancestral roots and local culture, so unsurprisingly that respect extends to the environment. Around 50 per cent of the hotel’s energy is supplied by solar power and they have a water-treatment plant on site, so they can recycle grey water for their gardens. All ingredients for the restaurant are grown locally and seasonally and are sourced within Morelos state, many from small suppliers in Tepoztlán. Rooms have organic and biodegradable bath products (plastics are in minimal use onsite). The hotel hangs art made by local creatives on the walls of the main house available to buy, and switches up the collection each month.
Couples who want some alone time or those packing an engagement ring can have a candlelit dinner by the pool, with just the goldfish to spy on you. And you can lay the romance on thick with musicians and flowers too.
Go with the flowy – and a touch of colourful Otomi embroidery.
You’re not so much eating at hotel restaurant Mesa de Origen (‘table of origin’) as you are being told a story – this is time-honoured cookery, tinged with nostalgia and emotion, that brims with ancestral pride. All ingredients are sourced within Morenos state, many from the local market and some grown onsite; honey, cheese and breads are made using 50-year old processes; and recipes are gleaned from the townfolk, most handed down for generations. Chef José Luis works alongside Doña Gloria, who – in lieu of formal training – previously cooked in a tlecuil (Náhua smoke kitchen) and guides the menus by local celebrations and what’s authentic for certain seasons. The mole sauce is her specialty. And, truly, you may not have tasted anything like what arrives at your table, with dishes such as barbecued corn with grasshopper mayonnaise, hibiscus taquitos and quesadillas with squash blossoms or huitlacoche (which is more delicious than its English translation of ‘corn smut’ belies). Pizzas fired up in the wood oven have a Meso-American take too, with toppings such as guava and cheese, and the philosophy extends to breakfast dishes: chilaquiles, gorditas stuffed with black beans and homegrown epazote, eggs with prickly pear, or served in tomato broth with beans – just like grandma used to make. And, as if the artful cookery weren’t enough to wow, the scenery will finish you off – both the open-to-the-elements kitchen terraces and the set-by-a-placid-pool outdoor terraces look out and up to the mountains. The pool bar also has a menu of snacks to enjoy as you laze: pizzas, rustic guac, quesadillas, Bajan-style trout tacos and a selection of salads.
There are three bars at the hotel, but it’s the kind of place where you can wander around with a drink in hand. All serve a selection of beers, wines and classic cocktails (margaritas, Aperol spritzes, dry martinis), although the signature sipper is mezcal muddled with flowers from the garden. One is set in the main house so you can sit in the cosy dining room or on the porch, there’s a bar beside the pool for post-dip drinking, and in Mesa de Origen there’s a decoratively tiled bar beside the open kitchen, which was built around a tall cactus that has its own little roof hatch to poke through.
Breakfast is served from 8am to 10.30am, lunch from 1pm to 5pm, dinner from 7pm to 10.30pm. The pool bar serves from 11am to 7pm, till 10.30pm in Casa Principal.
From 8am to 11pm you can have select restaurant dishes delivered to your room, and if you get thirsty in the night staff can deliver drinks.
Amomoxtli is in the Atongo River Valley, close to Tepoztlán, a town known for its mystical energy, Náhua heritage and leafy mountain scenery – just close enough to Mexico City for weekend breaks.
Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport is the closest, just a 90-minute drive from Amomoxtli. The hotel can arrange transfers in a private air-conditioned car for up to three people.
A car will come in handy if you want to explore Mexico further – and may be essential in more remote rural areas. There’s a louche approach to speed limits in Mexico City and it’s best to drive by day, but rental costs are low and you’ll have more freedom to head further south to Puebla, Oaxaca or a full-fledged Yucatán road trip. On the other hand, the hotel has enough spa rituals and indigenous activities to keep you occupied for a short break. There’s free valet parking onsite.
Worth getting out of bed for
Let Amomoxtli put a spell on you – it deserves as much of a mágico designation as Tepoztlán for its spa that inspires not just dreamy sighs, but spiritual awakenings with the help of Aztec wisdom; and a pool that’s not only a beauty of itself, with its day-beds stretched over the water and whirlpool tubs, but has a panoramic view of the noble sierra. There’s also a weekly programme of activities for guests which will teach you more about Náhua culture, the lush environment surrounding you and a little New Age self-care. Our favourite of these might be the hotel’s dedicated relaxation time when pre-Hispanic music plays and aromatherapy scents are diffused through the garden as guests relax – it’s essentially an adult nap time, which we’re very much on board with. Get some crystal healing or reflexology in the spa, let the chef show you how to make the delicious breads he lays out each day, or sample various kinds of pulque at a tasting, a pre-Hispanic drink deeply rooted in Mexican culture that’s made from the fermented sap of the agave plant – it’s not dissimilar to kombucha in taste, but more alcoholic.
It’s hard to believe Tepoztlán is just a 90-minute drive from Mexico City – it’s a verdant, peaceful place to escape to for a weekender (or a city-to-country road trip). It’s main claims to fame are being the birthplace of the mightiest Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, a place where indigenous Náhuatl culture is kept alive (many residents speak the traditional language) and El Tepozteco, a temple to the god of pulque (AKA Tepoztecatl) set 6,000ft above sea level in the mountains (so it’s quite a hike to reach it, although clambering around the ruins and feeding snacks to cheeky coatimundis make it worth the exertion). And, it also draws those on a slightly different plane: it’s possible to get your chakras set back into place, your aura photographed, tarot readings and a horoscope overview of what the future holds. Visit the Wednesday morning market to seek out the curious, then buy handicrafts and local delicacies. Of course, a refreshing hike through the rugged national park surrounding the town might be just as uplifting, or perhaps a visit to the Museo del Hongo, a place dedicated to Maria Sabina who used fungi (of a certain kind, we surmise) in healing rituals – they also arrange foraging trips. The Carlos Pellicer Museum is a little straighter in style, with thousands of important archaeological artefacts. And, if you happen to arrive four days before Ash Wednesday, you’ll find the town in a jubilatory mood – and some neon-bright costumery – as the Carnaval rollicks through town. A highlight is the dance of the Chinelos and larger-than-life icons.
It’s rare that you’ll find food like that served in the hotel restaurant, so allot some time to explore the menu. Otherwise, Tepoztlán has some tempting dining options. La Sibarita’s (3 Calle Paraiso) trump card is its location, with an eyeful of El Tepozteco and the mountains it stands on. Try the mole verde and cecina (smoked, dried meat). You won’t miss Los Colorines (13 Avenida del Tepozteco) – even a flamingo might consider its pink façade flamboyant – and keep your shades on inside too, which is strung with papel picado banners and has rainbow-hued furnishings. There’s a traditional feel here: food simmers away in clay pots on a stone counter, and the menu has inexpensive Mexican favourites: enchiladas, chili rellenos, arrachera (skirt steak). Laidback eatery El Ciruelo has a courtyard with verdant views, scattered with bright blue chairs; serving delicious food is one of the pillars of their philosophy, and they deliver, with steak in pulque sauce, chicharrón tostadas, duck enchiladas and other hearty, locally flavoured favourites. And for more jungle-shrouded dining, head to Axitla, to dine on the likes of ancho chillis stuffed with shredded beef and lamb in zucchini sauce, while feasting your eyes on the greenery.
Tepoznieves parlour is very popular for its ‘snows’, ice shavings with different flavours – usually tropical fruit and nuts. There are more than 300 to choose from, and they have charmingly dramatic names, such as Moon Lullaby, Symphony of the Sea and Temple of Silence.
Margarita Concept Garden is a superlatively stylish greenhouse with sculptural concrete seating and bars and lush plant life. The titular drink is a must-try. Las Marionas (131 Avenida Revolución) has a romantic, old-school dining room, with checkerboard tiles, arched windows and hanging greenery; and its not-too-sweet, not-too-sour margaritas are, well, just right.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this greenery-gone-wild hotel in alt-Aztec town Tepoztlán and unpacked their bag of quartz crystals and bottle of potent local drink pulque, a full account of their mystical and mythical break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Amomoxtli in Mexico’s hinterland…
Amomoxtli – the most luxurious hotel offering in pueblo mágico Tepoztlán – has ties to pre-Hispanic culture that run as deep as the rich mineral deposits in the sierra that gives stone-faced majesty to the stay’s backdrop. Some believe these minerals are what gives the area its mystical energy, much of which the hotel seems to have harnessed. From a non-descript gate you enter a hideaway where nature runs rampant, where sprays of ferns and herbaceous plants carpet the ground, palms and sacred ceiba trees spread with abandon and cascading purple jacaranda blooms bedazzle walls – and the bar’s even been built around a long lean cactus that pokes its spiny head out of a ceiling hatch. It’s a ripe setting for embracing the spiritual, and the opportunities are many. The spa is a wellspring of ancestral wisdom, where temazcal (traditional bath house) sessions are accompanied by pre-Hispanic music, freeing dance and sonorous drumming; you’ll bathe in pulque and honey and listen to ancient songs in cleansing rituals; and gourds, feathers and obsidian stones are used in massage.
But, the native Náhua clearly understand the equally rejuvenating powers of plain old ‘taking it easy’ – an activity so much encouraged here that siestas with aromatic infusions and soft traditional music are an important part of the day. Activities tend towards the gentle and emotionally rewarding: learning how to use crystals in the spa, harvesting leaves and flowers to make perfume, making bread or kombucha with the chef, although getting horizontal on one of the pool’s floating day-beds and admiring the spectacular mountain view is a perfectly acceptable pastime too. The Mesa de Origen restaurant also offers a window into Meso-American customs. Recipes have been handed down by town elders and ingredients come from no farther than the state of Morelos; and one of the chefs adds particular insight, having been a cook in a traditional Tepoztlán smoke kitchen and working her way up through the ranks. What’s on your plate is truly authentic, from the mole sauce and grasshopper dressing, to the hibiscus taquitos and pumpkin-blossom quesadillas, even the huitlacoche (known in English as the less-romantic ‘corn smut’) is deliciously worked into dishes. With such a warm invitation to experience Mexico in its natural state, you can’t help but feel a connection here.