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State capital of the Yucatan, Merida is a charming colonial city founded by the conquistador Francisco de Montejo in 1542 on the site of the Mayan centre T’ho (“city of five hills”). Sadly, the complex’s original pyramids were destroyed by the Spanish and today provide the foundations for the colonial townhouses, churches and monuments that now adorn the historic centre. For years, thick stone walls guarded against Mayan revolts and even pirate incursions yet it was in the late 19th century that the city leapt to prominence as a centre for henequen production. Huge fortunes were made – it was said that Merida once housed more millionaires than any other city in the world – and the surrounding countryside dominated by huge estates, many of which have since been converted into sumptuous boutique hotels. Today, modern Merida has spilled over the city walls yet at its heart, the colonial architecture of the original “white” city has been beautifully preserved and provides a wonderful base for exploring the northern Yucatan. Close by, Uxmal is one of Mexico’s most impressive sites rising high out of the landscape. Travel further and golden beaches, “cenote” sink-holes and the Celestun wildlife reserve compete with picture-postcard towns such as Izamal and Valladolid, all in easy reach.

Merida Hotels

$$$$ Hacienda San Jose Cholul Merida

Hacienda, Directors favourites

45 minutes’ drive from the state capital Merida, the Hacienda San Jose Cholul is a gorgeous 19th century colonial estate surrounded by lush forest and plantations. Small and intimate, San Jose...

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$$$$$ Hacienda Temozon Merida

Hacienda, Luxury

One hour’s drive south of Merida, Temozon pays homage to the great Spanish estates of old, a sumptuous 17th century colonial hacienda and once sisal plantation set amidst 86 acres of picturesque...

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$$$$ Hacienda Santa Rosa Merida


The Hacienda Santa Rosa is a glorious 19th century colonial estate and luxury hotel one hour’s drive from the regional capital Merida. From the entrance, a tree lined avenue leads through magnificent...

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$$$$ Hacienda Xcanatun Merida


Just on the outskirts of Merida a short drive to the colonial centre, the Hacienda Xcanatun – “Tall Stone House” in Mayan – is a charming, luxury boutique hotel that rose from the shell of an 18th...

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