Oaxaca, Mexico, a longtime favorite destination among T+L readers, just got a new boutique hotel with incredible design called Otro Oaxaca.
Just 20 minutes after checking in to my room at Otro Oaxaca, the newest installation from Mexico’s much-lauded boutique hotel firm Grupo Habita, I pour a mezcal on the rocks and head for the terrace. Traversing the reclaimed-wood walkway, I pass endemic pochote trees in the open-air patio, taking in the clean lines and distinctive architecture of the hotel, which takes inspiration from the Zapotec ruins of nearby Mitla.
Otro — a member of Design Hotels — is design-driven to its core. The hotel’s architect, João Boto Caeiro of the firm RootStudio, employed locally sourced building materials like brick, adobe, concrete, and iron to create a contemporary, brutalist nod to the vernacular architecture of the region.
Stepping out onto the third-story rooftop terrace, I’m met with panoramic views of the colonial city, a longtime favorite among T+L readers. The Baroque, 17th-century convent and cathedral Santo Domingo, just across the street from Otro, is hulking and magnificent in the frame to my left. Down below on the main pedestrian walkway, Calle Alcalá, the street teems with the vibrancy Oaxaca is known for — vendors selling street corn, artisans hawking their wares, and brightly colored hand-woven rugs rustling in the wind against the pastel façades where they hang for sale.
The hotel’s natural palette of deep ochre brick, reclaimed wood, and concrete make it a peaceful respite from the hustle of vibrant Oaxaca.
In the heart of the city center, El Centro, Otro couldn’t be better situated for exploring the cobblestoned colonial city or the surrounding areas.
From the three-level 80-square meter townhouse with semi-private plunge pool to the superior room with its view of Santo Domingo’s bell tower, Otro has options for design-driven travelers across its 16 guest accommodations.
The rooftop pool and bar offers panoramic views of Oaxaca, stretching from the Sierra Norte mountains to the north, across the sprawling compound of Santo Domingo, and to the emblematic Cerro del Fortin to the west, and is among the best views in all of the city.
Despite the lively scene below, the rooftop at Otro is a study in serenity. French-terry cloth daybeds and couches are clustered in intimate seating arrangements, while the infinity lap pool reflects the azure of the expansive Oaxacan sky. Neo-cumbia music hums in the background as the sun begins to set, sumptuous pinks and blues blooming across the sky.
This juxtaposition — at the very center of Oaxaca but in the most relaxed of spaces — is a fitting indication of what’s to come during my stay at the 16-room boutique hotel. Here, my review of the new Otro Oaxaca.
The 16 utilitarian rooms are divided into four offerings: townhouse, deluxe, superior, and junior. All rooms are outfitted with air conditioning and feature one king-size bed, and the townhouse and deluxe include a concrete soaking tub. Three of the four townhouses offer a semi-private rooftop plunge pool. All are outfitted with locally sourced artisanal textiles, like woven bedspreads and suede black-out curtains.
I stayed in the townhouse, which includes a living area on the first floor with couches, minibar, coffee station, and sink. The second floor is dedicated to the bathroom, with a separate toilet, large circular soaking tub, and walk-in shower. On the third-floor is a comfortable king-size bed and small writing desk. Light flooded the townhouse from the ceiling, illuminating the three floors below, so I was thankful for the burgundy patchwork suede blackout curtains come the morning.
Food and Drink
Helmed by chef Saúl Carranza, Otro’s open-air restaurant offers creative takes on traditional Oaxacan ingredients and dishes, like a tartare of tasajo, a Oaxacan cut of dried beef, and the pork crackling dumplings with chintextle, a smoked chile paste native to Oaxaca. Don't skip dessert — the seasonal fruit tart was a favorite, which I enjoyed alongside my after-dinner drink of choice, the carajillo.
Fittingly, Otro’s bar offers a wide selection of mezcals, ranging from ubiquitous espadín varietals to wild agaves varietals, like jabalí and tepeztate. Enjoy your mezcal neat, as is the culture in Oaxaca, or opt for a mezcal cocktail. Drinks are available on the first floor patio bar as well as on the rooftop.
Experiences and Amenities
Otro’s most distinct offering is its 20-foot subterranean plunge pool. Meant to mimic a cenote, or underground sinkhole, Otro’s plunge pool is illuminated by a single opening which creates a striking beam of light, illuminating the underground area.
Guests can book a private one-hour session for the plunge pool and herbal steam room, or visit after 8 p.m. when it’s open to all guests.
For those who prefer their pool with a view, Otro’s rooftop terrace boasts an infinity lap pool lined with daybeds, all with 360-degree views of Oaxaca and the surrounding valley.
Otro’s main communal area, the Bunker, doubles as a co-working and community space. Guests will find a selection of comfortable seating and work areas alongside a private book collection from Grupo Habita co-founder Carlos Couturier.
Adjacent to the underground pool, Otro’s spa includes two massage rooms where guests can enjoy traditional massage or a selection of aromatherapy body treatments.
Accessibility and Sustainability
Oaxaca’s narrow sidewalks and cobblestone streets may make it challenging for those with limited mobility to navigate. While Otro does have one ground-floor room, guests have to descend two steps from the lobby to reach it.
As a plastic-free hotel, Otro opts for refillable copal-scented toiletries made in partnership with local artisans and offers guests refillable carafes of water in place of single-use plastic water bottles. Laundry bags are made of organic cotton and all of the hotel’s terrace furniture is plastic-free.
Directly across from Oaxaca’s famed Santo Domingo cathedral, Otro is in the very heart of the city. With restaurants, food carts, shopping, markets, museums, and world-class bars all within a five-minute stroll of the hotel, you truly could not be better situated in Oaxaca.
For those looking to explore beyond Oaxaca's city limits, Otro can arrange tours to cultural sites, like the famed petrified waterfall Hierve el Agua and UNESCO World Heritage Site Monte Alban. Spirits-fans can book a tour to a mezcal palenque, or distillery, through the front desk. And if your main goal while in Oaxaca is simply to sample the city’s incredible food, ask a concierge at Otro to book a food tour or cooking class with one of their go-to operators.
Car rentals are recommended for those who prefer to explore on their own outside of the city.
How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Stay
If you’re booking a townhouse, request one with a rooftop plunge pool. For those staying in a superior room, ask if the one with views of Santo Domingo is available.
Otro is part of the Design Hotels™ collective, which means Marriot Bonvoy™ members can earn points and perks for their stay.
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