Las Ventanas Los Cabos room

Which Mexican luxury hotels have been called out this year by the readers of the USA’s two most popular travel magazines? Well, there are a few surprises, but overall there are a lot of great properties on both the Conde Nast Traveler poll and the Travel + Leisure rundown that came out recently.

We tend to be very skeptical about readers’ polls that purport to list the “best hotels around the world” for a whole lot of reasons. One is that nobody on this planet has stayed in enough luxury resorts to tell you by experience which ones are the best, even on one continent. You’d have to be staying in hotels and resorts every night of the year, moving around constantly. I’ve probably stayed in more luxury hotels in Latin America than almost anyone, but I need our freelance contributors in order to really cover them all in depth through personal stays. So people only vote for the ones they’ve stayed in or the ones their friends have raved about. The most famous places tend to stay on top.

Second, there’s a massive amount of ballot stuffing going on. Only a tiny percentage of regular readers will go through all the effort required to fill out these lengthy surveys. Everyone with a stake in the outcome does though. Some PR agencies and hotel chain offices have been known to get subscriptions for the entire staff for this one purpose: voting in the annual readers’ poll. (With instructions to staffers about the correct way to vote, of course.) That doesn’t even count the begging, “Please vote for us!!” e-mails that go out by the thousands. I get dozens a week when the voting period is in play.

Still, we humans love to see things ranked and scored, so this Best in the World list issue is naturally one of the glossy travel magazines’ most popular of the year. (The issue also pulls in lots of advertising as a result.)

The hotels win too of course: it can provide a nice bump in business for the resorts that come out on top. Most of them could really use the help since few people were actually traveling internationally when these surveys were going on. Some of the hotels are in countries that have been closed for the entire pandemic, like Australia and Bhutan.

Fortunately, Mexico was open and easy to get to, so these properties fared better than most around the world. The country had 7 of the top 100 properties in the world in the Travel + Leisure poll.

Here’s the list for this year of who made the top-100 in the world lists for top Mexico hotels and resorts, with a link to where you can see our detailed, first-person review along with some original photos.

Matilda in San Miguel de Allende, one of the top hotels in the Americas

Top Hotels in Mexico

Hotel Matilda – San Miguel de Allende

Coming in #40 overall in the world on Conde Nast Traveler’s poll, this hotel also sits in the #1 city in the world for the latter and the #1 small city for the former: San Miguel de Allende.

Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada also came in as the #6 hotel in Mexico, Dos Casas was #10, Rosewood San Miguel was $14, and Hotel Nena #16. The Belmond and Rosewood properties were also on Travel + Leisure’s top-5 city hotels list. What a showing!

W Mexico City

W Mexico City Hotel lobby at night

Coming off some impressive renovations, this property ranked as the #7 hotel in Mexico in the CNT poll, along with its next-door neighbor JW Marriott Mexico City at #5 in T+L (and #3 in CNT’s Mexico hotels list). The latter is the favorite for traditional business types, but the W is a whole lot more fun, with a lobby and rooms that both make you smile (and look great for Instagram posers).

Four Seasons Mexico City 

They’re probably not happy to show up as the third-best option in the capital city on CNT and T+L, especially with a new Ritz-Carlton opening this month too, but they make this list at some spot or another every year it seems and it’s hard to go wrong at this classic luxury hotel. Oddly, the Mexico City St. Regis got the #1 city hotel spot in T+L, but didn’t make any list at all in the competing magazine.

Hacienda Xcanatun by Angsana – Merida

Hacienda Xcanatun Merida by Angsana Hotel

Nice timing on this one as we were just there to check out their big renovation changes as Angsana by Banyan Tree injected some funding. More changes are on the way, including a bigger spa, but the best hotel in Merida impresses us more each time we visit.

Hacienda de San Antonio – Comala

Our review of this getaway next to a volcano and national park is from years back, but this is a timeless luxury hacienda hotel that impresses many a jaded luxury traveler, despite its location well off the tourist trail.

Cartesiano – Puebla

Cartesiano luxury hotel in Puebla review

It’s not easy for an independent hotel to beat out the always-popular Rosewood properties, but that’s what happened in Puebla in CNT’s poll. The one and only pick from there was Cartesiano, an artsy luxury hotel that’s a convenient walk to the historic center attractions.

Anticavilla – Cuernavaca

We rarely hear anything about this property since Cuernavaca is mostly a getaway place for Mexico City residents. Somehow it placed as the #2 hotel in Mexico though on the CNT poll, so the romantic getaway spot must be making a lot of couples happy.

Other hotels you’ll find in our reviews that made CNT’s top-20 list include Hacienda Temozon near Merida, Thompson Playa del Carmen, and all the San Miguel de Allende ones mentioned earlier.

Top Resorts in Mexico

One&Only Palmilla – Los Cabos

Showing up as one of the top 50 resorts in the world overall on the CNT list, this is a perennial winner. One of the only luxury resorts in Los Cabos when it opened, this gorgeous resort with a beach you can actually swim from still ranks at or near the top in most surveys, despite the heavy competition in the region now.

Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort – Los Cabos

Still the top resort in the region in our opinion, this is another one of the originals that still manages to keep its edge. This Rosewood resort, opened by the founder of Beanie Babies, is the place to go if you want superlative service in every aspect and a real sense of place right on the ocean. It seems like half the general managers I’ve met in Latin America worked here at one point, which is a testament to the excellent training program where you’ll be pampered at every turn. It ranked #50 in the world on the T+L list, that’s a suite we stayed in pictured at the top.

The spa here also frequently shows up in polls as one of the best in Mexico.

Montage Los Cabos

Montage Los Cabos luxury resort

Opened as the first Montage outside of the USA, it made an immediate splash for its innovative desert design and its location on a secluded bay where it’s safe to swim in the Los Cabos corridor. Expect Beverly Hills kinds of prices here, but the clientele who frequents the brand on a regular basis isn’t the type to study the bill too carefully before signing. Rated as one of the 100 best in the world by T+L readers.

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos

For some reason, Conde Nast Traveler ranked this as one of the top hotels in Mexico and not a resort, even though it’s beachfront in Los Cabos, but this relative newcomer is starting off with a bang. You can expect some interesting Mexican-Japanese flavor combinations in the signature restaurant.

Zadun, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Los Cabos

If you don’t believe my intro about ballot stuffing in the travel industry, let me introduce you to a resort that had barely opened while the pandemic was going on (after years of delays), had hardly any press visitors staying to report on it, and Los Cabos was at 50% capacity during much of the voting period. But it somehow got ranked as the #20 resort worldwide in the CNT poll and #69 in the T&L one, ahead of established Ritz-Carltons running like well-oiled machines. Give that PR firm a raise!

I’m sure it’s quite nice. Hopefully someday we’ll be able to report from there and include it in our listings. Meanwhile, check it on Hotels.com.

The CNT Top-20 Resorts in Western Mexico reads like our reviews page for the best hotels in Baja Sur, so just go here to see more than the paragraph they supply about Las Alamandas, Esperanza, The Cape, Chileno Bay, Cuixmala, Waldorf-Astoria Pedregal, Viceroy Los Cabos, and Solaz.

Banyan Tree Cabo Marques – Acapulco

We’re not sure how this property showed up at #70 in the world for Travel + Leisure readers: if you counted up all the Americans who have visited Acapulco and stayed anywhere in the past two years, it probably wouldn’t be enough to fill this property for a week. It is lovely though and we’ve got a review of it, so check it out if you’re headed that way with some Mexico City friends. They’re still going, despite the troubles.

Live Aqua Beach Resort – Cancun 

Live Aqua Cancun - top hotels in Mexico

We’ve expressed our love of this adults-only luxury resort in the Cancun hotel zone several times on this blog and you can find a video tour here. Le Blanc is the only real competitor for the title of the best all-inclusive in Cancun. It has a great spot on the beach and came up as the #19 resort overall in the CNT poll.

Viceroy Riviera Maya

Scoring a spot as the #39 property in the world in the T+L poll, this beachfront resort near Playa del Carmen is probably what you picture in your head when you imagine an upscale but laid-back small resort by the blue sea. Adults-only, with excellent food and a spa.

Rosewood Mayakoba – Near Playa del Carmen

Another fine Rosewood resort for picky well-heeled travelers, this one is in a complex with a great golf course, streams running by villas and wildlife, and a terrific waterfront area that feels like a fancy beach club. Expect some of the best cuisine in the area, great bar areas, and superlative service. This one placed as one of the top-100 hotels in the world on T&L’s list.

Most of our picks for the best hotels in Cancun and the Riviera Maya made CNT’s list of the best in the east, though as always we’re not sure how the timeshare resorts from Vidanta can qualify, nor how the Hard Rock makes it on. But follow that link to see our detailed reviews of Nizuc; Ritz-Carlton Cancun; both Chablé properties (one is near Merida); Andaz, Banyan Tree, and Fairmont in Mayakoba, Unico 20 87, Mi Amor, and Grand Residences.

See the full readers’ poll info at the T+L or CNT sites.

See all our reviews of the best luxury hotels in Mexico.