I'll never forget the first time I visited Hotel San Cristobal. I was hosting girlfriends at our home in San Jose del Cabo and we decided to make a day trip to Todos Santos. On the way there, our rental car broke down, stranding us at a random ATV place in the middle of the desert. Fortunately, the rental car company was surprisingly responsive and we were able to salvage at least part of our day. We decide a sunset stop at Hotel San Cristobal was a good way to brighten our mood and get us back on track.

If you've never been to Baja, then there's something you need to know: venture off the main road, and you'll likely end up on a dirt one. These roads wind through the desert, often following an arroyo with no clear destination. Are we going to someone's house? A farm? The beach? you'll wonder. As someone who is familiar with the area, I'm totally comfortable with that kind of thing. To me, serendipitous uncertainty is part of Baja's charm. But for my two friends who had just spent the better part of two hours stranded on the side of a Mexican highway...well...

As with many destinations in the area, the signage isn't exactly precise. Thus we found ourselves winding down a sandy, rock-studded desert lane lined with saguaros, unsure of exactly where we were going.

"I think we should turn around."

"Yeah, I'm worried we're going to get stuck."

"Okay...but let's try that other road..." I urged, glancing at my friends to see two sets of white knuckles clenching the "oh shit" handles.

Reluctantly, my friends agreed, and I turned onto yet another dirt road through the desert. This one had been recently graded, which felt reassuring. Once we passed a freshly constructed gatehouse, my friends began to relax. After maybe two minutes, the saguaros parted to reveal the gleaming white stucco of Hotel San Cristobal, and beyond it, the sparkling Pacific.

Out came the iPhones as we explored this oh-so-Insta-worthy spot with farm-fresh margaritas in hand. From the open air lobby to the cerulean oasis of pool to the crashing surf, Hotel San Cristobal is modern Baja in all its rugged majesty.

Saguaros and surf at Hotel San Cristobal

Saguaros and surf at Hotel San Cristobal

The Experience

Whether you're arriving in time for a sunset cocktail or spending the day at the pool, you'll want to get there with plenty of time to appreciate your surroundings.

As you enter the hotel through a cactus-lined breezeway, you're greeted by a sparkling ocean vista bordered by two stories of hotel rooms on your right, and the restaurant and roof deck on your left. The buildings are stuccoed a perfect ecru, accentuating their squared, modern lines. Rustic wood beams, embroidered pillows and woven chair backs add warmth and beachy charm to the ambiance, while agave and saguaros spring green from the sandy soil.

And then there's the tile. It undulates in technicolor waves where you'd least expect it: bordering the kitchen's pass-through window, rising up the steps. Even the bathroom says #Ihavethisthingaboutfloors.

Relaxing by the pool at Hotel San Cristobal

Relaxing by the pool at Hotel San Cristobal

Spend The Day

Explore the gift shop's curated collection of Oaxacan jewelry and the hotel's signature serape robes, or make a b-line for the open air bar. Either way, all paths eventually lead to either the beach or the pool. If you plan on using the latter without booking a room, you'll need to arrange for a pool pass. About $50 USD gets you all-day access including towels and wait staff should you choose to sip a Paloma in the hot tub while watching the horizon for migrating whales.

Feel like stretching your legs? Walk down to the beach to watch local fisherman pulling the day's catch from their pangas in the shadow of craggy Punta Lobos, or search for my favorite found treasure: cholla cactus driftwood. Hotel San Cristobal is pretty isolated, so you're more likely to befriend the beach's playful stray dogs than you are fellow tourists strolling down the surf line from another hotel.

View from Benno at Hotel San Cristobal

View from Benno at Hotel San Cristobal

On The Menu

Eventually, you're going to get hungry. Fortunately, you're in good hands at Benno, Hotel San Cristobal's restaurant and bar. If you've been in town for a while, chances are you're ready to mix things up a bit from the usual Baja fish tacos, and Benno does it nicely by seamlessly blending Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines.

Snack on rich, charred avocado or spicy-sweet aguachile de camarones, or sit down to a formal meal of whole grilled fish. The menu aims to elevate Baja's local bounty into dishes that are at once urbane, yet rustic. And in my humble opinion, it does that nicely.

This year, I asked for a day trip to Hotel San Cristobal for my birthday. Scott and I enjoyed a fresh ceviche and lightly battered tostadas alongside frosty glasses of local beer. Although we were full, we kept revisiting the menu, tempted to order more because everything was so good.

Stay The Night

While I haven't personally spent the night here, it's high on my wish list. Ocean-view rooms offer uninterrupted views of sea and sky. Stay upstairs, and you get a breezy balcony perfect for afternoon naps and robe-wrapped nightcaps. Choose a downstairs room, and you can walk right out onto the beach.

Inside, the hotel's signature tile continues its tidal flow through the rooms, washing into bathrooms and balconies, or even up the wall. Beds are appointed with brightly colored blankets to offset whitewashed walls and natural blonde woods. And woven furnishings both indoor and out provide a refined - yet beachy - textural contrast.

In short, Hotel San Cristobal belongs on your short list of destinations near Los Cabos and Todos Santos. Or maybe you've already been! In that case, I'd love to hear about your experience!  

Hotel San Cristobal

Playa Punta Lobos | Carretera Federal N°19, Km 54+800 | Todos Santos BCS. CP 23300

Dialing from the U.S.: 1-855-227-1535 | Dialing from Mexico: 01-800-990-0272