Find inner peace (and everything else) at Casa Hormiga, a homey hideaway a block away from the banks of lake Bacalar. Silence descends daily from 10pm to 10am in order for serenity to permeate, aided along the way by rituals in the traditional temazcal steam lodge, cacao ceremonies and sound healing. Mimic a monk at the library, in one of the three pools, on your jungle-facing treehouse’s balcony or in the official chill-out space, the Nest. For wellbeing of the more tastebud-pleasing type, beeline for the Brote restaurant and be soothed by its Mexican and Middle Eastern mix-up.
Double rooms from £147.66 ($180), including tax at 21 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of $1.55 per room per night on check-in.
Rates usually include breakfast.
There are ramps between the lobby, bedrooms and pool, along with some specially adapted rooms for disabled guests.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, bicycles to borrow, board games and library. In rooms: free bottled water, air-conditioning, beach towels and flip-flops, and sustainable bath products from Mérida.
Our favourite rooms
For a modern take on Mayan construction, book a Tree Top Loft and marvel at the traditional palapa roof (as well as the view of the jungle canopies from your Tarzan-approved balcony).
There are three outdoor pools, including one for families, plus one at the spa.
Rituals take place all over the hotel, not only at the spa, but you can be sure of some especially good enlightenment here, especially if you’re booked in for the traditional temazcal (an ‘ancient steam lodge’). You’ll also be able to sign up for cacao ceremonies, tarot readings and skin treatments performed with crystals, and there’s a treatment room with twin bath tubs for couples.
Claim back some of your baggage allowance by leaving the books behind and browsing the hotel’s impeccably stocked library instead.
In case you weren’t feeling creative/relaxed/inspired (or whatever you’ve checked in to this wellness sanctuary to achieve) enough, head to the Nest, where you can join a yoga class, film night, discussion or workshop.
In order to keep the noise levels monastic, the hotel only welcomes kids aged six and up.
The bath products in the bedrooms are locally sourced, low on chemicals, vegan-friendly and refillable; the construction used wood from the region and reforestation measures were taken; and purified water takes the place of plastic bottles throughout the property. Staff also keep watch for unattended air-con, ready to turn it off if it’s left on accidentally all day.
If you’re feeling sociable and in the mood for enlightenment sharing, take a seat at the big wooden table opposite the library.
Avoid whites if you’re planning on ordering the chocolate volcano.
Brussel-sprout haters, look away now: the hotel’s restaurant name translates as a direct tribute to the festive miniature cabbage, but the meaning behind Brote has more to do with sprout-ing and creation than it does with the most divisive vegetable on the planet. The food could not be further from a British Sunday roast – instead, guests can order kebabs cooked in the tandoori oven and small plates of a Middle Eastern and Mexican fusion, half of which are vegan. Many of the ingredients are bought in Bacalar’s market.
There’s an honesty bar where you can help yourself, or you can wait for it to be manned at 3pm. Cocktails of course feature local specialities, from mezcal and maracuyá (passionfruit) to chipotle chillis and worm salt.
Breakfast is served from 8am until 11am. Snacks can be ordered from the restaurant all day, with dinner service kicking off at 4pm.
Head to the front desk (or just open WhatsApp if that sounds too strenuous) to order food that will be delivered to your room.
In the south-eastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo and close to the banks of its bluest lagoon, Casa Hormiga is in the town of Bacalar.
The airport in Chetumal is nearest, but most international arrivals will have to connect to a domestic flight in Mexico City. Another option is to land at Cancun and sign up for a rewarding Riviera Maya road trip for the next four hours. The hotel can arrange transfers for as many as 14 guests in one van.
The casa is a few streets away from downtown Bacalar and you’ll be able to borrow a bicycle to get there. If you have come by car, there are 10 parking spaces available at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Chances are you’ve been lured to Bacalar for its namesake lake, of various shades of blue (seven to be precise) fame – and your casa is a handy solitary block away from the main entrance. Once you’ve reached the shores, you can sign up for sailing, kayaking and paddle-boarding; or for something altogether more subterranean, locate one of the nearby cenotes. The team will also be able to point you to the most tourist-free shores of the lake, equally deserted Mayan ruins and horse-drawn wagon trips through the jungle.
Macario is one of the most loved Mexican restaurants in town, closely followed by Nixtamal, where you can enjoy tiraditos, ceviche and grilled steaks and lobster. Vegans and vegetarians will appreciate the entirely plant-based menu at Mango Y Chile; and hipsters will find solace (and excellent coffee) at El Manatí. And in the unlikely event that you’ve had one bowl of guacamole too many (never), try Nao for Bacalar’s best Japanese food.
Bacalar’s buzziest beach club La Playita will have a hammock reserved for you; and more opportunities for sunlounger snoozing and daytime drinking await at Bacalar Beach Club. Expertly mixed drinks are also available at Bote de Leche and Barbranegra; and you’ll be able to admire the lagoon with a cool drink and some Mexican snacks at Jaguara.
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 spiritual stay in Mexico and unpacked their candles and incense sticks, a full account of their lakeside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Casa Hormiga in Bacalar…
Steps from the shores of Bacalar’s beloved blue-toned lagoon, Casa Hormiga is not so much a home as a ritual-loving retreat and self-styled self-love sanctuary. Before we lose you with the woo-woo, hear us out: they may be welcoming you with open arms to locate your opportunity 'for spiritual relief’ and ‘a place to remove the masks that bind you’, but their intentions are good. The promised ‘deep transformation’ is possible with trips to the temazcal (an ancient circular hut where things get obscenely hot), cacao ceremonies (not just for chocoholics), tarot readings, sound-healing sessions, meditations in water, reiki and just plain old yoga. Someone will even clean you in an old-fashioned way (ask for a limpias). Or you can find solace swinging through the jungle canopies in your imagination while gazing out at them from the balcony of your treehouse; or feasting on Mexican and Middle Eastern fusion food at Brote. This house is most definitely a home.