The charming Hotel Casa del Balam (Calle 60 at Calle 57, tel. 999/924-8844, www.hotelcasadelbalam.com, US$120 s/d with a/c, US$150–190 suite with a/c) occupies a 15th-century building—the lounge and courtyard area used to be where the horse-drawn carriages would pull in and park. Floors have been added, but the large, clean rooms maintain the building’s colonial character, with wrought-iron fixtures, heavy, dark-wood furniture, and checkerboard floors. Of course, modern touches such as new bathrooms, central air-conditioning, satellite TV, comfortable beds, and double-paned glass let you enjoy colonial times without actually living in them. Five honeymoon suites and three master suites occupy original rooms and have antique decor. Diners can eat in the shady courtyard bistro, with a splashing fountain and lush tropical plants. A small pool in back is a nice plus.
Misión de Fray Diego (Calle 61 between Calles 64 and 66, tel. 999/924-1111, in US and Canada 866/639-2933, www.lamisiondefraydiego.com, US$108 s/d standard, US$119 s/d special, US$126 s/d junior suite, US$136 s/d master suite) is a former monastery converted into a classy colonial hotel—you’ll find some fine religious art here. Standard rooms lack some detailing, making specials, with their five-meter (16.4-foot) ceilings and attractive woodwork, worth the extra price. The hotel has two courtyards—the first has an attractive garden and fountain and the next a small clean pool and deck chairs. A quiet restaurant serves good Spanish food, especially paella. This is a sister hotel to Hotel Caribe, and guests enjoy free green fees at the Club de Golf La Ceiba.
Located just steps from the central plaza, Piedra de Agua (Calle 60 between Calles 59 and 61, tel. 999/924-2300, www.piedradeagua.com, US$103 s with a/c, US$135 d with a/c, US$146–200 suite with a/c) is one of Mérida’s boutique hotels. Rooms are modern and elegantly sparse with deep beds and fine linens. Unless you opt for one of the suites, they’re also a bit cramped—there’s barely enough space to walk around the room, much less set you bags down. All open onto a sunny, three-story interior courtyard, the 1st floor of which doubles as the hotel restaurant. A chic outdoor lounge and pool area is a plus.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition