Seeking a peaceful escape on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, I recently found myself at Hotel Cielo Rojo, a boutique hotel in the quaint seaside town of San Pancho. Located about four blocks from San Pancho’s golden sand beach, on a side street away from the evening traffic and revelry but within easy walking distance of everything San Pancho has to offer, Hotel Cielo Rojo delivered on everything that I was looking for in a boutique hotel.
Hotel Cielo Rojo – A Boutique Hotel in San Pancho, Mexico
From the moment I arrived at Hotel Cielo Rojo, I could see that the entire operation was a labor of love. I arrived a solid five or six hours before check-in, and was graciously welcomed by Alex, the front desk agent, who whisked away my luggage, directed me to the washroom where I could change into my swimwear, and equipped me with everything I would need to relax on the beach while I waited for my room.
Before heading to the beach, I took a few minutes to wander around the hotel and take in the stunning design. The entrance, stairwell and hallways all overflowed with evocative Mexican decor, including items collected from nature, abundant plant life and even fascinating antiques. Every space was illuminated with natural light, and the upper floors had open views of the town below.
Rooms at Hotel Cielo Rojo
Hotel Cielo Rojo has double, triple and suite rooms spread across three floors. I stayed in a double room on the third floor (shown in the top photo) with charming traditional Mexican and Spanish decor, including old movie posters, embroidered linens and even a little cactus. My room had air conditioning (which I didn’t need to use), a ceiling fan and large, screened windows opening to the back of the hotel (including the breakfast terrace). According to the hotel’s website, they even use organic cotton sheets on the beds!
My bathroom was spacious, with a tiled sink area and a shower with powerful hot water, and there were even facecloths (seriously, my #1 pet peeve about travel outside USA and Canada is how rarely I find facecloths in the bathroom!).
Amenities at Hotel Cielo Rojo
I was pleasantly surprised by the in-room amenities in my room at Hotel Cielo Rojo. Under normal circumstances the chic, local bottled water would have been enough to make me happy, so imagine how excited I was to discover that Hotel Cielo Rojo offers its guests courtesy tequila! Yes, it’s true – expect to find a little tasting bottle of their house tequila welcoming you into your room!
I also fell in love with the local, organic bath and body products at Hotel Cielo Rojo. I rarely keep hotel shampoo and conditioner, but I couldn’t resist bringing the refreshing lemon verbena-infused shampoo and conditioner with me to my next destination, and the handmade lavender soap was perfect for my bedtime shower.
On the ground floor of Hotel Cielo Rojo you’ll find a book exchange and the hotel’s gift shop, featuring local artisan products including fashion, home decor, jewelry and gourmet foods. If you enjoyed your complimentary in-room tequila, you’ll want to grab a bottle to take home (hint: blanco is best for making margaritas, while reposado and anejo are best for sipping). Not a big drinker? Take a bottle of their cold-pressed Mexican olive oil instead.
There was one other amenity that I forgot to photograph: complimentary beach gear including large beach towels, easy-to-carry sun chairs and even umbrellas! It was so great to spend the day at the beach without having to worry about where to sit or how to stay protected from the sun.
Dining at Hotel Cielo Rojo
Hotel Cielo Rojo is home to San Pancho’s Bistro Organico, an upscale restaurant focusing on healthy, local, organic, plant-based and sea-based dishes. Open daily for breakfast and lunch, and with rotating seasonal dinner hours as well, Bistro Organico is a lovely place to relax over a leisurely breakfast or energizing lunch.
When you reserve a room at Hotel Cielo Rojo, you will receive a complimentary light breakfast in Bistro Organico. Shown above, your breakfast will include a cup of local Mexican coffee and a sunny fruit bowl featuring seasonal fruit, yogurt, granola and honey. This was more than enough breakfast for me, but the menu was so tempting that I returned again at lunch (for the vegetable omelet and herb-roasted potatoes).
Ready to Book?
How to Get to San Pancho
Although it is very easy to travel by bus from Puerto Vallarta to San Pancho, it’s not particularly efficient or comfortable. Essentially, there is one hourly bus from the Puerto Vallarta airport to San Pancho. To catch the bus, exit the airport and turn left. You’ll see an orange overpass crossing the highway – cross the road and descend to the bus stop there, where buses from the Compostela company pass by hourly to San Pancho. The destination will be clearly labeled on the front of the bus. From the airport, it’s about ninety minutes (and ninety stops…) to the San Pancho bus stop. Then, it’s about ten minutes on foot to central San Pancho and Hotel Cielo Rojo. Taking the bus for the full journey costs about $50 pesos. Alternatively, you can wait at the same Puerto Vallarta bus stop for a bus heading to Sayulita (these are more frequent – every twenty minutes or so – and take about one hour) then hop in a taxi from the Sayulita bus depot directly to Hotel Cielo Rojo in San Pancho. Expect to pay about $40 pesos for the bus and $150 pesos for the taxi.
If the thought of dragging your bags around on a slow-moving, Mexican bus isn’t appealing, it’s much easier and more comfortable to take a taxi or Uber from Puerto Vallarta directly to Hotel Cielo Rojo. This should take less than one hour, and prices range from $500 pesos (in an Uber, with low demand) to $1500 pesos (in a licensed airport taxi).
If you’re just coming to San Pancho from Sayulita, you can use the local bus for $10 pesos (with departures every thirty minutes from the Sayulita bus station) or grab a taxi for $150 pesos. In the evening, taxi drivers wait in the Sayulita plaza and are open to organized shared taxis between the two towns.
While you’re in San Pancho, don’t miss anything the town has to offer! Read my complete San Pancho travel guide for details about restaurants, activities and long-term stays.