A home away from home may be a bit of a cliché, but Casa Angelina Zihuatanejo is just that: a handsome hacienda perched in the hills above the laid-back surfing town of Zihua. You’ll find no pandering to Instagram aesthetics in this Pacific-coast retreat, but rather grown-up good looks, a casual kitchen and a strategic scattering of poolside hammocks from which to soak up the views. Pick one of just six intimate suites to hide away in – or better yet, book the whole sprawling villa for a house party with like-minded souls.
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A private surfing or paddle boarding lesson for two
Double rooms from £1643.99 ($2,082), including tax at 16 per cent.
Rates include a Continental breakfast of just-squeezed juice, fresh fruit, organic yoghurt, granola and eggs.
There’s no spa as such, but an in-room massage can make short work of any niggling knots and tension. Yoga classes can also be arranged; book ahead to limber up in the hotel’s serene palm-fringed grounds.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout. In rooms: Bluetooth speaker, air-conditioning, free bottled water and organic bath products.
Our favourite rooms
No prizes for guessing why the Plunge Pool Suites get our vote, though you might find yourself dithering between a private dip on your terrace and a nap in the view-blessed hammock. The Honeymoon Suite is equally irresistible: with its sculptural four-poster bed, twin showers and outdoor copper tub, it’s made for lingering in à deux.
Compact and curvaceous, Casa Angelina’s infinity pool is a prime example of the genre. Dips here are rewarded with postcard-worthy views of Playa la Ropa, a slender crescent of sand framed by rugged mountains and frothing surf. A row of sleek sunloungers encourages idleness: count how many wild parrots you can spot, or sip on a cocktail from the thatch-roofed bar.
Casa Angelina isn’t all about idle lounging: pack yoga gear for sun salutations and board shorts for hitting the waves.
Playa la Ropa is just a 10-minutes walk away, but if you can’t face the climb, the hotel can arrange a free shuttle to the beach.
Welcome, though the hotel’s steep stairs and pathways are best suited to older children. Babysitting is available for US$7.5 an hour (minimum four hours).
You’d be remiss not to sit outdoors – the rose-tinged sunsets over the bay are spectacular.
Billowing shirts and ankle-grazing dresses will look suitably dramatic in the sea breeze.
In Cocina, Chef Daniel Hernandez favours a pared-down approach. His kitchen makes the most of the local bounty: organic produce comes from nearby gardens, and fresh seafood from Zihua fishermen. The menu may be short, but it’s a crowd-pleaser. Start with a colourful salad, dressed with shredded coconut and a fruity vinaigrette, then opt for sesame-crusted tuna or a classic peppercorn steak.
At the edge of the pool, the thatch-roofed Palapa Bar has a light menu – and welcome shade – for the peckish. Home-made guac and chips are just the thing to graze on with a house margarita; if you’re in the mood for something smooth and smokey instead, climb into one of the hammocks with an artisanal mezcal in hand.
Breakfast is served from 8am to 10.30am, dinner from 6.30pm to 10pm. Order poolside treats from the Palapa Bar from 11am to 11pm.
Snacks such as quesadillas or guacamole and chips can be brought to your room from 11am to 5pm.
Hemmed in by jungle and blissfully secluded, Casa Angelina Zihuatanejo is perched on a hillside over the surfing town of Zihua.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport, a 20-minute drive away, has seasonal flights to major international hubs in the US and Canada. Domestic flights from Mexico City and Tijuana also stop here year-round. The hotel can organise private transfers from US$35.
It’s worth bringing your own wheels to make the most of Sierra Madre del Sur’s rugged terrain and jaw-dropping vistas. There’s free parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Days at the hotel could be easily spent doing very little at all: laze by the pool, lose yourself in the latest page-turner, sway gently in a hammock, and make a point of catching every sunset over the bay with a chilled margarita in hand. For those of a less languid disposition, spirited Zihua has bags of bohemian charm. John Wayne and Mick Jagger used to hang out here in the 1960s, but the surfing town, thankfully, has since kept its profile low-key. Downtown, take a walk through historical cobbled streets, meandering between happy-hour bars, street-food carts and a handful of artisan shops. If you’re after pulse-raising thrills, the hotel’s staff will happily organise memorable day outs: try your hand at cigar-rolling at a nearby tobacco plantation, watch just-hatched turtles on their first daring dash to the sea, or go horse-riding on Playa Larga’s photogenic stretch of sand. The Xihuacan archaeological site is worth a visit, too, with its red-brick pyramid and intriguing museum housing hundreds of pre-Columbian artefacts. Zihua’s turquoise waters, naturally, are a major draw for surfers and snorkellers alike – particularly on nearby Isla Ixtapa, where the coral reef teems with marine life. Time a visit between December and April to catch a glimpse of the humpback whales come to loll in the warm waters.
On busy Calle Heroico Colegio Militar, no-frills Carmelita’s Café is a local institution. Stop by for huevos en chile pasilla (tacos bowls filled with refried beans, plantain and a fried egg), or a comforting, savoury helping of pork pozole stew. Framed by palm and banana trees, Jungle Pizza is aptly named, and a casual spot for margheritas and margaritas. Beachfront Hao is elegant but relaxed: feast on zingy ceviches, quinoa-stuffed chillis and lobster tacos.
A surf shop, gallery, café and bar rolled into one, Loot sprawls across three floors. Sip on head-turning cocktails in the garden; if you’re in the mood to mingle, look out for DJ nights and weekly supper clubs.
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 boutique hotel in Zihua and unpacked their mezcal and board shorts, a full account of their coastal break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Casa Angelina Zihuatanejo in Mexico…
Once an under-the-radar hideout for rock gods and film stars, Zihuatanejo – Zihua for short – is a surf town with a soul. High on a hill above its postcard-perfect bay, Casa Angelina Zihutanejo keeps things simple with an evenings-only restaurant, a pool with a view and just six romantic suites. That’s not to say the hotel isn’t sophisticated: architect Enrique Zozaya is responsible for some of the area’s most eye-catching villas, and the casa’s arches, colonnades and terraces are a testament to his knack for elegant understatement. You’d be forgiven for never leaving the grounds – which are dotted with trailing bougainvillea and come-hither hammocks – but the state of Guerrero’s natural charms beckon. Surf, snorkel or turtle-watch, safe in the knowledge that there’ll be a chilled margarita and a perfect sunset waiting for you back home.