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La Villa del Valle
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Nancy B.

The 10 best hotels in Ensenada

Check out our guide to the best hotels in Ensenada for a cool and comfy stay in this Mexican port city

Written by
Ruth Jarvis

Just a two-hour drive from San Diego, Ensenada is a great place to dip south of the border. As the first beach resort you hit as you drive into Baha California, it offers the usual drugstores, cantinas and tourist tat, but beyond the nodding armadillo gewgaws it’s a confident port and college town with a burgeoning Baha-Med gastro scene and fish tacos even Mexicans travel for. The choice of hotels here is limited and they’re generally average in price, style and amenities; classier and cooler digs such as La Villa del Valle can be found in the Guadalupe Valley wine area an easy hour’s drive north-east (or en route from the USA), which is fast becoming a destination in its own right. There are also a couple of local curiosities, such as Horsepower Ranch. Here are our picks of the best hotels in Ensenada and its environs.

Best hotels in Ensenada

1. Hotel Coral & Marina

Why go? This four-star with spa and gym places high standards of comfort and service above the whims of fashion, and its ethos is classic rather than stylish – chandelier-hung lobby, beige and brown room furnishings. The food and drink are bang on trend, however, with a restaurant influential on the Baha-Med scene and a winelist brimming with terroir. It’s a high-ish rise, with balconies, and there are great views over the neighbouring marina, the cruise port and the beach (a short walk away). Best perk: a Fast Pass for priority border crossing.

2. La Villa del Valle

Why go? Founded by two British winemakers influential on the Valle de Guadalupe scene, the hacienda- style Villa reflects a love of terroir. It’s enfolded deep within vineyards and olive groves, desert rockscapes and cactus-studded horizons, and uses local produce for everything from bathroom goodies to breakfast eggs. And, of course, the free wine tastings. Rustic, yes, but luxury, too, with sizeable pool, Jacuzzi and its own gastropub. With just six rooms, this is quintessential boutique.


3. Punta Morro

Why go? Crashing waves are the soundtrack at this smartly run hotel that punches above its rates. It’s on a headland so there are ocean views all around; the restaurant almost feels like it’s floating. Given the photogenic setting it’s unsurprisingly popular with couples and wedding parties, and the management knows how to pull out all the romantic stops, from a scattering of rose petals to fizz by a firepit. Bedrooms are sleek and spacious and there’s an oceanfront pool.

4. Cabañas Cuatros Cuatros

Why go? A recent contribution to Ensenada’s trend for eco-relaxation, these architect-designed cabins/tents offer glamping at it its most luxurious. The tent part is a spacious and prettily dressed sleeping and living area (on stilts to allow a cooling breeze to circulate); the cabins at the back offer the ‘facilities’ (shower and loo). The location between sea and mountain (not far from town) brings a temperate microclimate, much appreciated by the surrounding vineyards, which you are encouraged to wander.


5. Posada El Rey Sol

Why go? You’ll get a taste of both modern and traditional Mexico at this downtown hotel and its related restaurant across the street. Recently renovated, in contemporary colonial style, it offers well-specced rooms tricked out in clean whites with flashes of hot Mexican colours. The free breakfast is served at the restaurant across the street, which is more baronial that colonial, an old-guard stalwart serving French(ish) cuisine (its eclairs are famous) and trad Mexican staples. There’s a pool and some nice little extras.

6. Hacienda Guadalupe

Why go? This traditional hacienda hotel is a wine-country classic; better established and more truly Mexican than some of its California-influenced competitors up the valley, not to say a little cheaper. Opposite the wine museum midway along the Guadalupe Valley, it makes a great base for exploring the wine route. Staff are solicitous and the 16 rooms well appointed with views encompassing the pool and mature gardens. A hiking trail leads directly into the hills.


7. Estero Beach Hotel

Why go? This family-friendly low-rise resort a short drive west of the city does a great job of providing all the essentials for a great beach holiday, starting with a great private beach – a sandy cove with palm trees, sweeping bay views and jet-skis etc on tap. Rooms are large and comfortable rather than stylish, and the pool curves pleasingly around its garden setting. If you have the energy, grab a game of tennis or check out the on-site museum. If you haven’t, grab a drink at the swim-up bar or a mani-pedi at your lounger.

8. Encuentro Guadalupe

Why go? Rather than trying to disappear into its stunning rock-studded surrounds, the architecturally aspirational Encuentro adopts their drama. Its 22 ‘eco lofts’ (not cheap) project dramatically into thin air, sometimes incorporating boulders into the sparsely modern interiors. It aims to be a sanctuary, with an infinity pool and no-phone rule, but its fashionable restaurants (‘a laboratory of colours and flavours’) and clientele bring the modern world with them. In the Valle de Guadalupe, it’s part of a stylish winery.


9. Horsepower Ranch

Why go? Yeehaw! Except the horsepower here is the kind that comes in an engine. This guest ranch, in the hills above Ensenada, is a centre for off-roading, and has been since Prohibition drove Americans south of the border for a cold one at its still-atmospheric cantina. Set in gardens, vineyards and orange groves, Horsepower is a slice of tourism and motorsport history that has been cherished as much as modernised. So no wi-fi, but a pool, palm trees and bags of character even if you don’t want to get behind the wheel.

10. Las Rosas Hotel & Spa

Why go? Slap-bang on the ocean, Las Rosas recalls a conventional mid-range American hotel, with its comfortable, carpeted bedrooms and ‘Mediterrannean’ style (read: lots of terracotta pink with aqua accents). Add in a spa that’s functional rather than luxurious and you’ll figure, correctly, that weddings are a big market here. The beach is rocky, so good for rockpooling rather than for swimming, but there’s a nicely landscaped infinity pool to compensate, along with a Jacuzzi perfectly placed for appreciating the sunset.

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