Time hits differently at Terrestre, where pre-Hispanic structures with brutalist-inspired accents conjure a peculiar kind of ancestral futurism at the edge of Oaxaca’s cacti-studded plains. Set your out of office in advance, the hotel’s open flow and focus on raw materials encourage guests to tune into nature’s frequencies (and remove their shoes). Sync-up with the sun cycles from the privacy of your rooftop terrace, channel ancient bathing rituals at the hexagonal, seven-chambered spa, or sample local flavours at the eponymous open-air restaurant. Inside, warm woods, earthy cement and handmade brick – all sourced within a one kilometre radius – set the tone. Expertly engineered and entirely solar-powered, not a ray of light goes to waste; what’s not converted into energy casts sculptural shadows that mimic the villa’s angular design or illuminates the sand as it splinters off the reception’s glittering disco ball.
Fourteen villas, each with a furnished terrace and their own private plunge pool.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £487.64 ($595), including tax at 19 per cent.
Rates usually include a continental breakfast.
Horticulturalists, rejoice; the hotel is immersed in native plants from orchids and lantanas to copales and mesquites.
At the hotel
At the hotel: Free Wifi throughout, bikes to borrow, Spa with hammam and sauna, two pools, stargazing terrace, open-air restaurant, mezcal bar and beach club. In rooms: minibar with soft drinks and Mexican candy, fan, free bottled water, free Wifi, Grupo Habita bath amenities and tea- and coffee-making facilities.
Our favourite rooms
All 14 open-plan villas are identical. Sandy brick walls, polished concrete flooring, arched roofs and Macuil wood shutters set the scene for Oscar Hagerman’s custom-built furniture, each piece referencing rural Mexican design. Split over two levels, all rooms have a rooftop terrace, outdoor bathroom, plunge pool, hammocks and unbeatable mountain vistas to boot.
Terrestre’s bathing pool – housed within an elevated circular structure overlooking the gardens – is a place of contemplation and secluded poolside treatments. Back on earth, a second (though equally striking) elongated pool is positioned among the succulent-spotted sands; head here to get your laps in, but hold the cocktails – this one’s strictly alcohol free. For those hankering after a Daiquiri with their dip, the in-villa private pool and room service combo has just the ticket.
There’s a sense of mysticism at the arresting hexagonal spa, designed to elevate the luxury of Earth’s elements. Drawing from ancient bathing rituals, each of the spa’s seven chambers allow guests to experience water in an almost spiritual way as they move through hot, tepid and cold baths to a sauna, steam room and finally emerge through a cascading shower. Book a slot at the front desk with the spa team, or arrange a treatment with a view at the hotel’s bathing pool.
A big ol’ hat that doubles as a portable parasol and a copy of Oliver Sack’s Oaxaca Journal – a love letter to Oaxaca, its plants and people.
Guests can arrange for dinner and drinks at the Mirador, the hotel’s viewing platform with dramatic 360 views of the ocean, Sierra Madre del Sur mountains and hotel gardens.
Leave the little ones at home, Terrestre’s mindful escape is designed with grown-ups in mind.
The Terrestre ethos, as the name suggests, is deeply attuned to its land. The hotel is one hundred per cent solar powered and built entirely from materials either sourced or created within a one kilometre radius. The focus on locality extends to the hotel’s staff, amenities and cooking ingredients, too. What’s more, Terrestre’s architect Alberto Kalach has designed each of the hotel’s 14 villas in such a way that the need for air conditioning is eliminated; his passive cooling methods ensure a constant room temperature. And with an indoor-outdoor circulation, Terrestre develops only the land that it needs in order to preserve the native plants that surround it.
Bag a spot next to the open kitchen to see head chefs Pamela and Geoffrey do their thing.
Neutral airy linens to blend-in with the brick work.
Raised upon a slab of polished concrete and surrounded by sand and shrubs, the surprisingly intimate open-air restaurant is the herbalist-inspired love child of Pamela Maudy and Geoffrey Antonino, whose dishes channel the traditional flavours of Oaxaca with a contemporary Mediterranean twist.
The hotel bar is based within their restaurant and runs a curated selection of cocktails, fine wines and soft drinks. Alternatively, the beach club serves soft drinks, beers and mezcal throughout the day.
The restaurant serves breakfast from 7am to noon; lunch between 1:30pm to 6pm and dinner from 8pm till 10:30pm. The bar serves drinks until late, and you can grab a mezcal at the beach club from 11am.
Room service is available from 7am until the restaurant closes its doors at 10:30pm.
Carretera Federal Salina Cruz
Santiago Pinotepa Nacional Km 113
Nestled between the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range, wild Oaxacan jungle and the lapping tides of the Pacific, Terrestre can be found along Punta Pájaros golden sands, just a 30 minute drive from the surfer’s paradise of Puerto Escondido.
For most, the easiest way includes a layover at Mexico City Airport. From here, you can catch a direct flight straight to Puerto Escondido, 30 minutes from the hotel. Contact the hotel to book a transfer priced at $50 for two people. Those travelling from the USA and Canada may be lucky enough to catch a direct flight to Bahías de Huatulco International Airport. While the services are limited, it’s just under an hour’s drive away from the hotel.
Since Terrestre is all about connecting with nature, you won’t want to spend much time driving, and the hotel runs transfers to and from Puerto Escondido. If you must drive, opt for sturdy tires; the dirt roads that lead to the hotel are ridden with potholes.
Worth getting out of bed for
If by miracle you tire of Terrestre’s zen trappings – and let’s face it, that may take quite some time – the surrounding area is rich with wonders both natural and cultural. A stone’s throw away from the hotel is Punta Pájarosbeach, where you’ll find Terrestre’s understated wooden beach club. The hotel has a number of sun loungers and parasols pitched up in front of the ocean – just ask the hotel concierge to reserve you a spot. Feeling creative? Fifteen minutes east is Casa Wabi, a sprawling cultural compound designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. There’s a 22-metre chimney designed by Terrestre mastermind Alberto Kalach in collaboration with TAX, a large-scale installation by Mexican artist Bosco Sodi and a number of artist residencies and exhibitions on rotation. There’s a ceramics pavilion, too, encouraging a hands-on approach to local materials with regular workshops. Hike the Atotonilco hot springs, or better still, explore them on horseback. On the way back, stop at Manialtepec Lagoon, a rare natural phenomenon where the water is illuminated by bioluminescent plankton. And they don’t call it the Mexican Pipeline for nothing, Puerto Escondido is renowned for its breaks; head to Carrizalillo for beginner surf (and superb scarlet sunsets), or to the main Zicatela beach to witness the pros take on a wave or two.
Neighbouring Kakurega Omakase is a multisensory experience tucked away in the Oaxacan jungle. Bridging the gap between Japan and Mexico, the restaurant uses local ingredients to create delicate dishes of sashimi, tempura and elevated ramen bowls. What’s sourced and fished by the mornings is served up in the evenings as edible artworks almost too beautiful to eat. Down the coast toward central Puerto Escondido, dining takes on a more casual role, but remains equally delicious. Try Fish Shack La Punta for some of the best street food in town or Chicama for Peruvian-style ceviche.
The olive and apricot coloured Cafe Nopal is an artisanal bakery in the heart of Puerto Escondido. Though their menu is full of Instagrammable acai bowls, fruit smoothies and juices, it’s their sugar-topped pastries that are the real show-stoppers.
While there’s not much in the way of nightlife save for the main strip of central Puerto Escondido (you’re in the rainforest, after all) what is here is rather special. Masters of artisan agave, Cobarde specialises in ‘weird’ (their words not outs) small batches of mezcal, each with its own unique story.
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 solar-powered hotel in Oaxaca and unpacked their earthy linens and wide-brimmed sun hats, a full account of their off the grid wellness break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Hotel Terrestre in Puerto Escondido…
When architect Alberto Kalach set out his vision for the Terrestre hotel, he began by imagining how aliens would view human architecture. Using the natural resources of the local landscape, Kalach has created something strikingly otherwordly (extra-Terrestre-ial, even) through simple materials like clay, wood, brick and cement. His design process reflects the resort's core belief that the most profound pleasures can be found in nature’s fundamentals: water, earth, fire, air. Taking sustainable tourism to new heights, this off-the-grid sanctuary of rest and relaxation is entirely solar powered. Guests are encouraged to switch off their phones and synchronise instead with the cycles of the sun. Each of the fourteen brutalist-inspired villas has a rooftop plunge pool overlooking Oaxaca’s lush rainforest, and custom furniture by Mexican architect and designer Oscar Hagerman. Oh, and there’s a seven-chambered hexagonal spa, two beautifully sculptural pools, a viewing platform and a beach club, too – qué bien!