Former convent, Anticavilla Restaurant, Hotel & Spa, in Cuernavaca, Mexico, has the holy trinity of luxury hotels: indulgent treatments, an enormous heated pool and to-dine-for restaurant – hallelujah. The interiors have changed a little since the nuns left: each of the 12 suites is decorated with sleek contemporary furnishings in glistening white, and a bold palette of red green and blue. Rooms are named after 12 Italian artists, and each has an eye-catching feature wall depicting its namesake’s Modernist masterpiece – expect geometric colourscapes by Balla and Severini, bananas and busts by De Chirico and giant nudes by Modigliani – welcome to the nunnery…
Noon, but flexible until 2pm. Check-in, 3pm; early check-in can be arranged from 10am. Guests can use hotel facilities and store luggage at reception if leaving late or arriving early.
Double rooms from $148.90 (MXN2,897), excluding tax at 19.75 per cent.
Rates usually exclude breakfast, but include a welcome cocktail and non-alcoholic drinks from the minibar.
The hotel is closed over the first two weeks of January 2018.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV with Blu-ray player, iPod dock, air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, a safe, plug adaptors and black-out curtains.
Our favourite rooms
Each suite is inspired by a different Italian artist, so pick a suite to suit your artistic taste. Junior Suite Aligi Sassù has the best views of the garden and pool but we’re also rather taken with the Presidential Suite’s secluded terrace, which has an open fire pit and Jacuzzi.
The enormous heated swimming pool is set in the hotel’s lush tropical gardens. Guests can settle on sunloungers beneath palm trees and parasols.
Overlooking the lush gardens, two of the five treatment rooms are designed for couples so you can unwind together. The therapists’ healing hands will work away any knots or tension: rejuvenate with a Forever Young facial, energise with an essential-oil-boosted aromatherapy ritual or relax with a four-handed massage.
Pack your sketchpads and draw inspiration from your suite’s feature wall or the hotel’s flower-filled tropical garden.
One of the ground-floor suites has a bathroom specially designed for guests with limited mobility; the toilets in the restaurant are all wheelchair accessible.
By day, take a table on the lawn and for a special occasion, organise a private dinner in the wine cellar, which uniquely isn’t subterranean, but set in its own tranquil garden.
Although there’s no strict dress code, the chic setting deserves only the suavest of linen suits and most elegant dresses.
The restaurant embodies the hotel’s blend of contemporary and classic: overlooking the original building and lush gardens, the open-air restaurant is a modernist masterpiece. Its high ceiling – strung with chandeliers – is supported by pillars that look like tree trunks polished marble, and guests dine on sleek white and perspex tables and chairs. Take your pick of Mexican or Italian fare, or mix it up with a bit of both: start with a bowl of mole de olla (a red chili broth with beef, sweetcorn, pumpkin, carrots and xoconoxtle), followed by home-made pasta, and finish with the house special: the Anticavilla Duo (two layers of soft cornbread filled with caramel ice-cream).
Nothing beats a pre-dinner Margarita Anticavilla (made with Mezcal, lemon, tamarind, strawberry and mango) by the bar’s roaring fire, as you cosy up with your loved one and gaze over the illuminated lawns. If you can’t wait for dinner, the bar offers lights snacks, including cheese and meat platters, salmon and beef carpaccio, and shrimp, tuna and octopus ceviches to share. The hotel has a large wine cellar so your glass is unlikely to run dry.
Breakfast is served from 7am to noon, lunch runs till 6pm, and dinner is between 7pm and 11pm. The bar is open from 1pm to 11pm.
Room service is available from 7am to 10pm every day.
Anticavilla Restaurant, Hotel & Spa is set in the historic city of Cuernavaca, an hour drive south of Mexico City.
Fly direct to Mexico City International from London and cities across the US. Call our Smith24 team of travel experts to book your flights and arrange private transfers to and from the airport (around US$150 each way).
You can easily catch a cab in Cuernavaca so you won’t necessarily need a car, but if you do want your own set of wheels our Smith24 team can arrange a hire car for you to pick up at the airport. The hotel is an hour drive from the airport and there’s free valet parking and Tesla charging points at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Founded in the 16th century, Cuernavaca has a rich cultural history. Start your deep dive into the past at the Palace of Hernán Cortés. Built between 1523 and 1528, it was originally the winter palace of a Spanish conquistador, but now houses the Museo Cuauhnáhuac, where you can view archaeological artefacts from the local area and famous Mexican artist, Diego Rivera’s murals which depict the history of Cuernavaca. Just down the road is the Robert Brady Museum. Like a giant travel journal of Robert Brady, every surface of the house is bedecked with paintings, textiles, sculptures, antiques and other assorted art forms from all corners of the world. Among the treasures to be discovered are works by well-known Mexican artists, including Rivera, Tamayo, Kahlo and Covarrubias, as well as Brady’s own paintings (look out for his portrait of Peggy Guggenheim). Pack a picnic and take a leisurely lunch in the tranquil Garden Borda; be sure to pop into the Cathedral of Cuernavaca on your way – it’s a monumental Baroque building, so you can’t miss it. If you want to go further back in time the ancient Aztec archaeological site of Teopanzolco is less than a 15-minute walk from the hotel; older still are the ruins of Xochicalco, which date back to the seventh century. Tequesquitengo lagoon is less than an hour’s drive from the city; the hotspot is beloved by daredevils for its water skiing, scuba diving, hang gliding and parachuting.
Casa Manzano Restaurante is one of the most popular eateries in Cuernavaca. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and blessed with a vine-garlanded courtyard, you’re in for a culinary treat. Expect lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, delicately flavoured fish, and sugary desserts. The lush green gardens of El Madrigal are a tranquil spot for lunch or dinner; take a table overlooking the water feature and enjoy traditional Mexican dishes like cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) and chile en nogada (shredded meat topped with a creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate). Another elegant eatery set within a floral garden is Las Mananitas: take a seat on the gardenside terrace and tuck into Mexican classics such as tortilla soup or Asturian shrimp flavoured with champagne, a little garlic and guajillo chili: the more adventurous diners should try the Maguey red worms.
Located in the historic centre of the city, Café Alondra is the perfect pit stop while exploring the city; enjoy fresh salads, bagels and paella washed down with a tall milkshake, and followed by a large slice of their home-made chocolate cake. If you’re feeling really hungry, head to easygoing eatery, Rincon del Bife; their generous portions of steak, spicy sausages and whole lobsters will fill you up for the whole day. Artesana is a laidback pizzeria serving deep-filled sandwiches, delicious Italian treats and thin crispy pizzas; couples should order one of the heart-shaped pizzas – with melted cheese, freshly-baked dough and meat, that’s amore.
House Café + Lounge in downtown Cuernavaca is a cool wine and cocktail bar set around the hotel’s pool, this alfresco lounge is filled with large white sofas covered in warm woollen blankets so you can drink well into the cooler evening.
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 art-filled hotel in Cuernavaca and unpacked their Mexican momentos from the local markets and Modernist Italian prints, a full account of their cultured city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Anticavilla Restaurant, Hotel & Spa in Mexico…
From not so humble beginnings, luxury city escape Anticavilla Restaurant, Hotel & Spa was born. It started life as a colonial manor house and was later converted to a Jesuit convent. Fortunately for Smiths headed down Mexico way, its final form was a hotel for gourmands. Its lavish interiors, to-dine-for restaurant and enormous heated pool are on a level of luxury more conversant with the building’s original purpose than it’s more devout days – you’ll only pick up bad habits here. Spend your days in the sun-kissed stay lounging by the pool, being pampered in the spa and sipping wines from the deep-filled cellar, while enjoying fine Mexican fare in restaurant. Inside, the building retains many of its original features, they’ve just been jazzed up with some modern additions. Under the traditional wooden ceilings and stone archways, you’ll find sleek, white contemporary furnishings, given some colour by feature walls depicting the works by Italian Modernists: Modigliani, De Chirico and Severini – so you’re never in bad company.
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