Cuetzalan is one of the 10 original Pueblos Magicos (magical towns) of Mexico, picked when the program got started, before it got diluted with dozens of others only marginally magical. It has all the elements of a mythical hidden paradise. It’s in an isolated location in the mountains, reached by a single road that’s often washed out or being repaired. Before that road, everything arrived by mule train, which makes the stone buildings and cobbled streets even more impressive. Clouds drift in and out regularly and vendors set up on the main square each day selling goods grown at different elevations nearby. The favored local hooch of fruit liqueurs comes in a couple dozen flavors.
The lovely town of Cuetzalan is no secret with domestic tourists, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find another foreigner face in the crowd. Because of that, you won’t find much hotel information online in English. Here are the three hotels to look into if you’re heading north from Puebla city to explore the waterfalls, botanical gardens, and the Yohualichan archaeological site in this area.
Hotel Posada Cuetzalan
This hotel extends around three courtyards and is one of the best-equipped in town, with a large outdoor pool complex, a full restaurant, and a bar. As with most in town the maintenance budget could use a cash injection, but it’s clean and tidy, with the gardener keeping the plants in great shape. There are lots of sitting areas to relax in with a coffee or to get some work done: the Wi-Fi is complimentary but the signal doesn’t extend to all the rooms.
Hotel Posada is in a location that’s central, but a few blocks away from the main plaza. This makes it easier for tour van pickups and there’s a secure parking lot for guests with cars a block away. Once you get past the front desk, service is friendly and helpful, though as with all these hotels, you might need a phrase book if you don’t speak any Spanish. Most rooms are the same, with two beds, a TV, shower-only bath, and scarce electrical outlets. Rates start at $66 double including full breakfast. See more at the Hotel Posada Cuetzalan site.
A block away from the first listing above, this welcoming inn is a little worn around the edges but is comfortable and reasonably priced. It’s a good choice for families as some rooms have a separate upstairs space with two more beds, reached via a spiral staircase. Rooms open onto a pretty courtyard and if you venture to the roof you get a panoramic view of the town and the surrounding hills.
There’s no restaurant or bar on site, but there are plenty within a few blocks by strolling out the door. Rates are $38 to $48 for regular rooms holding 2-4 people, up to $94 for the largest family suite. Wi-Fi is included. See more (in Spanish) at the Hotel Encuentro site.
Hotel La Casa de Piedra
The “House of Rock” isn’t a party place. It’s a hotel made of stone. If you’re going to splurge for the best suite in town, this is the place to do it. For around $155 you get a gorgeous room with a Jacuzzi, balcony, fridge, and plenty of space.
Others are quite nice too though, with their hardwood floors, stone walls, and talavera tile bathrooms. Rates start at $64 for these. All have an electronic safe, TV, and complimentary Wi-Fi. There’s a good restaurant on site serving all three meals breakfast and there’s access to a temazcal if you want to get a pre-Hispanic sauna experience.
See more at the Casa de Piedra website.
For more info on the area, see the Cuetzalan Magico website (in Spanish only for now) or the Mexico Tourism site in English. To look for hotels, you won’t find anything through the usual booking sites. The best site is locally run HotelesEnCuetzalan.com. Or better yet, for here or other destinations in Mexico, let specialist agency ConciergeOnline set everything up. Owner Rocio is fluent in English and is plugged into interesting experiences and places to stay.
Article and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted by Cuetzalan Magico while researching a Puebla feature story for Luxury Latin America.