Hotel San Cristóbal, N° Km 54+ 23300, 800, Carretera Federal 19, Todos Santos, B.C.S., México. How do you lose your passport, have a run in with the Mexican police, stumble into a drug lab, get pamplemousse-colored bums, and completely run out of gas in 3 days? Welcome to the adventures of traveling with Emily and Coco. Theme song: Pussy by The Brazilian Girls
I am very big on weekend escapes and luckily my friends are the same way, so adhering to this rule of escaping city life is something that happens more frequent than not. When you live in a city as populated as New York, London, or Paris, you sometimes get overwhelmed by all that the city has to offer. It's always been a rule of mine to try and escape as often as possible, so that I don't forget the smell of the forest, the breeze of the ocean, or lose my sense of balance.
With Emily and I both being frequent travelers to Mexico, we were both so excited to explore another boutique hotel together with fresh eyes and anticipation. You have to think that when Vogue writes about the boutique design hotel you've recently visited before most people pick it up, you know you are in good hands. Hotel San Cristóbal opened earlier in the Spring as one of Bunkhouse Group’s latest creations (Bunkhouse is the same team behind the Standard Hotels) and they are not taking any timeouts.
Every detail was thought through from the wooden animal hooks in the bathroom (yes, I tried purchasing them, but they were custom made for the hotel) to the colorful his and hers (but in our case, hers and hers) bathrobes (which you can purchase in their lovely gift shop). It couldn’t have been a better place to spend a few days getting back to good. My dear friend, Emily, appreciates design hotels and well-documented travels just as much as I do, so it was only fitting that we would take a very last minute mini-holiday together.
Before our trip, I stopped in Los Angeles since it made absolutely no sense to fly from New York to Cabo, as I would have had to had a layover in some midwestern city like Houston or Atlanta, before catching another flight to Cabo and losing an entire day of sun. So why not spend a few days beforehand in Venice catching up with friends at the Santa Monica pier concert, working from health-oriented vegan cafes, and running around on Vespas buying vintage clothes? Well, that’s exactly what we did.
Emily, the friend of all friends with the best taste of anyone I know, happens to know a thing or two about hosting guests. Arriving at her perfectly designed house in Venice, we would spend our time waking up at 7:00 am for a 4-mile morning walk to the beach, head to the office for some work, hit up some vintage shops in the afternoon, ride our bikes to the beach in the evening, and dance our faces off to wizards with glow sticks and silk batons at night.
I left Los Angeles never wanting to leave, but knew that I had to at that very moment, or I probably never would. So there we were, on a flight the next morning watching the latest Terrence Malick film snuggling together on the airplane with the funniest flight attendant we had ever met (also, Terrence) and then a short flight later and we were in Mexico.
Emily and my packing extravaganza would have been quite the video to have watch if it was filmed. We packed an arty and colorful palette with voluptuous silk scarves, oversized totes that referenced Mexican kilims and the geometric zigzags of the Russian Constructivists, and carried on at least six hats to protect our faces from the grueling Mexican sun.
"If it's good I die; if it's bad I die. I'm always dead."
-Coco and Emily
Most areas in Todos Santos are completely accessible by car, so you need to rent one when you arrive to go explore the local hot spots. So, here are my tips on what to do when visiting Todos Santos (in the summer), and staying at Hotel San Cristóbal:
- Rent a car from Hertz. This is not the time to be bad & boujee-- it’s Mexico. We rented a manual Chevy Spark (the smallest car we could get) and we called her Sparky. At times, the roads were so bad, it felt like we were going off roading and we had to go so slow that snails were probably going faster than us. At the end of our trip, there was a Pemex gas station that we could have gotten petrol at, but Emily claimed that we had enough. Well, we probably did have enough actually, but we ran out of gas because we had to turn back for the hotel because Emily lost her passport. About forty minutes into our drive to the airport, we were empty. There was no gas stations for 10km. We were running on fumes. It wasn’t even empty, we were worse than empty. We made multiple attempts to find petrol by pulling over, but there was no hope. We even resulted to singing the Gasolina song by Daddy Yankee. I really don't know how this happened, but we somehow managed to get ourselves to the gas station...
- Immerse yourself at Hotel San Cristóbal by relaxing poolside on one of their hot pink tubes and reading a book, eating guacamole and white cheese dip poolside, and occasionally jumping out of the pool for amazing tacos and an ocean dip. A dear friend recommended that I read, "Ready Player One", so I ordered it on Prime when I was in LA for the trip. We were busy chasing the sunrise and sunsets, so we would always make sure we were at the hotel during both of those times to really relax and take it in. In the mornings, the Punta Lobos beach is a slanted long strip that goes on a few miles. It’s hot sand, but if you get out there before the sun is on full force, it’s totally walkable without shoes. We woke up and walked a good 2-3 miles per morning for some exercise and it may not seem like much, but our calves were both burning afterwards. In the evenings during sunset, they ring the large gong by the pool so you know to make your way outside to watch. We were labeled the “gong girls”.
- Spend a day surfing next door to San Cristóbal Cerritos Beach. Find Cerritos Surf Colony and either rented boards for $10 each from the shack there that is owned by a guy named Rudy or take some surfing lessons from him. Rudy and Tona are great guys and will give you a number of tips (like how NOT to burn your feet when you’re running from the shack to the beach in the scorching sand). Emily and I were swapping out boards right and left the entire time. There is a really large current there and it is the place to surf if you are in Baja, so be prepared for some pretty strong waves. I even checked with my surfer friend Cameron and he knows Cerritos beach really well!
- Head over to La Paz to explore both Playa Balandra and Playa del Tecolote (this is where we shot this La Paz post). They have some great beaches and beach clubs where you can spend your day lazing around or do a number of different activities like: snorkeling, boating, tubing, jet skis, swimming with the coral reefs, whale shark boating, etc. It’s truly a magical experience even driving from our hotel to La Paz, because you pass incredible cactus farms, head through little Mexican towns, and see a bunch of Mexico’s wildlife. I wore my favorite swimsuit, the Mad Max by Fella Swim. If you have children, Playa Balandra is the beach for you since its shallow water and you can go snorkeling with the fish and there is no current. If you want something more entertaining with a beach club, head over to Playa del Tecolote. The beach is more commercial, but it was still a really fun experience.
- Sunset massages on Cerritos Beach with Jorge and Sophie for $30 USD
- Eat as much as you can at the hotel, because their restaurants are ridiculous. There were a number of things happening in town that you can do like go attend a reggae dance party, eat at local shops, but we really just wanted to relax after watching the sunset and eating that we spent most of our nights curled up together in our room watching french films or recordings of sad french songs. Emily and I both love director Gaspar Noé, and had a long discussion one night about his latest film Love. One evening we watched The Zookeeper’s Wife and cried our eyes out as we ate churros with mango and strawberries in bed.
- Make time to grab dinner one evening at Hierbabuena, an organic farm that has a very fresh farm-to-table restaurant down the road from our hotel. They grow all their own produce and you have a relaxing and quiet dinner on the farm with some of the best Mexican food we’ve ever had. They also have insane drinks… order the Dusty Dog!
- Stop by one of the many cactus farms that you will see on your road trip to La Paz. It’s a very beautiful scenic change and really quite spectacular to see so many different types of cacti, all with completely different attributes. It almost looks unreal, since they look like a patchwork of beautiful colors of green that you would find in a mural.
- Check out local coffee brewers Baja Beans Coffee and grab some beans as a souvenir for you to take home with you after your stay.
- Make a pitstop at FreeSouls in Cerritos for some lunch and drinks after a swim at the beach. They are known for their Italian food… actually the entire area of Todos Santos apparently has fantastic Italian food!
- Have a tour at The Blanket Factory on your way to Todos Santos. You’ll see a large wooden sign that says, “THE BLANKET FACTORY” and of course, you have to stop! They sell blankets, rugs hammocks, hammock chairs, and even have their very own loom outside. Cash only, and pricey, but good. If you want a cheaper blanket, head to Oaxaca.
- Some say that you can go on a whale shark boat tour only in the winter, but some say it is all year round. Either way, hire a boat and check this out. Will blow your mind.
No matter what you decide to do when visiting Todos Santos, I’m certain you will leave having an amazing trip, feeling both refreshed and inspired. There is a wonderful calmness that that town exudes and an undeniable charm (probably since it hasn’t been overthrown with tourists yet). PS- our playlist, Bonjour Tristesse here.