Investing lots of money into turning four Merida buildings into a hotel and then calling it Unknown Hotel (with a line through it on the website even) is either a big-wink brilliant idea to appeal to moneyed hipsters or it’ll turn out to be a big mistake that requires a rebranding later. I couldn’t help but think of the line from David St. Hubbins in Spinal Tap: “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.” Hopefully the unknown tag is not a long-term prophesy because this property is worth knowing and staying in.
Unknown Hotel is located in the Santiago neighborhood of Merida, in Yucatan state of Mexico. It’s about a 10-minute walk to the center or Santa Lucia park, which is more of a plus than a minus. The area feels like a real neighborhood where locals live, not one thronged with tourists and expats, plus it’s relatively quiet here by Mexican standards.
Unknown Hotel Dining and Drinking
You enter through glass doors from the street to find an attractive lobby area for check-in and to the left of that is the main restaurant, serving all three meals. You can order quite a few Mexican specialties, especially at breakfast, but there’s a good range of international items too, including salads and pizza at lunch and dinner. Prices are reasonable, with most items in the range of $6 to $12 and cocktails topping out at $7. There’s a range of wine to choose from and some good local craft beer from Patito.
The inviting restaurant has an indoor dining area and an outdoor patio lounge with umbrellas in the day, string lights at night. Several dramatic custom murals highlight Mayan kings and god—with drinks in hand.
Between reception and the room areas is a long bar where you can sit and order drinks while looking at bottles mounted on antique doors hung on the wall. Here you can get anything from the restaurant menu, like small plates or a charcuterie platter. The hotel also offers room service.
After going down a narrow walkway flanked by vines and plants you reach the centerpiece of the hotel: is a large rectangular pool in a courtyard, surrounded by landscaping. Most of the rooms open onto the patio around the pool, so it’s only a few steps from your suite to a lounge chair. The pool has a shallow area on one side and a deeper one on the other, with enough length to get some exercise in if you’re a swimmer. Otherwise, it’s a nice place to get some refuge from the Merida heat while imagining you’re in the yellow city of Izamal.
Rooms at Unknown Hotel
There are five room classes at Unknown Hotel in Merida, all with Mayan names. Mine was the Kukulkan variety, which has two double beds and a private plunge pool on a furnished terrace. It’s large and comfortable, with a spacious main room even with the two beds, a separate sitting area near the entrance, and a large rainshower-only bathroom. I found the bed to be quite comfortable and the A/C did a good job of fighting the summer heat.
Two other classes have a plunge pool, but if you’re not going to use that, some of the garden view rooms feel bigger inside, with a wider layout. The top choice for families is the Xibalba master suite, which has a king bed, a double bed, a plunge pool, and a sofa.
None of the rooms are small and they’re all laid out like a junior suite, with some kind of sitting area. In all the rooms, the floors are polished concrete and tile in the main areas, wood laminate in the bathroom, with hardwood headboards and built-in furniture. There’s a 43-inch smart TV, a safe, coffee maker, and complimentary WiFi that works well.
Staffers have a good command of English and can arrange all kinds of local tours and excursions or arrange a massage treatment. They can point you to other restaurants, bars, and places to pick up snacks.
Overall, this property offers a great experience and it’s a good value compared to many of the other boutique hotels in Merida. I’m guessing it won’t be an unknown hotel for long.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at Hotel Unknown while on a press trip with Yucatan Tourism researching an article for another publication. As always, all opinions are his own.