Situated in the country's south-east, Campeche has long attracted day-trippers to its sorbet-coloured streets, but its appeal has gone up a gear lately, with the refurbishment of 18th-century guesthouse Las Lupitas. Both honouring the port city's history and showcasing contemporary style, the five-key boutique is a stylish independent base unlike anything else on the local accommodation landscape.
Between hazy hours spent lounging in hammocks, visitors will find much to explore in this culturally rich destination. Founded in 1540, Campeche first made its mark as a major trading hub. The luxury goods passing through quickly made it the target of pirates, and a string of attacks wiped out almost a third of its population. Designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997, the city is home to two preserved fortresses, and encircled by crumbling walls. Get to grips with its turbulent past at the Fort of San José Museum, which perches at the highest point of Campeche. On display in its gallery space is an impressive collection of artefacts recovered from sunken ships.
Head to Campeche Botanical Garden, where narrow passageways flanked by rare tropical plants lead to a beautiful central fountain - the perfect spot at which to curl up with a good book. Many of the plant species found here are used in the production of herbal medicines and fabric dyes.
A palpable energy courses through the city in February, when Campeche hosts the oldest carnival in Mexico. The two-week celebration champions the local community through a series of concerts, parades and artistic activities. Expect vibrant costumes and extravagant floats galore.
Where to stay?
Following the unveiling of its recent refurb, it has to be Las Lupitas. Enjoying a prime position on one of the most beautiful squares in the city, the property is a tranquil oasis in the Guadalupe neighbourhood. Five boutique suites are designed with the modern traveller in mind, offering three functional spaces: living area, fully-equipped kitchen and airy bedroom. Finer design details include original pasta tile floors, high, beamed ceilings, tropical wood furnishings and regional Mayan artworks. Outside, a garden is planted with a sea of cacti and overgrown palm trees. There are plenty of hammock-strewn corners, and a centrepiece saltwater plunge pool.
Where to go for dinner?
Most locals will point you in the direction of Calle 59, a street lined with outdoor dining spots, but we suggest veering away from the hustle and bustle and heading straight to Marganzo Restaurant, whose burnt-orange facade is bordered by oyster-white columns and windows are laced with potted plants. Inside, you'll find buttercup-yellow walls, chequered tile floors and tables topped with abstract-print cloths. The seafood-filled menu includes the likes of shrimp soups, cod tacos and crab salad. Arrive for 7pm to see a lively crowd gathered around the bar, then order a refreshing margarita. When in Mexico...
And for a drink…
Sometimes, the bars with the best cocktails come with the grittiest interiors. Case in point? Barko 59. This low-lit set-up draws on a nautical theme, with rope-clad beams, fishing net-draped ceilings and shelves brimming with ocean trinkets. Come for the stellar drinks menu, but stay for the burritos.
Who to take with you?
That friend who decks their flat out with SAD lamps once the winter draws in, who will appreciate Campeche's balmy temperatures.
Essentials to pack
An SPF gloss that also makes lips pillowy? Yes, please. Snag the Dr Lara Devgan Platinum Lip Plump for a nourishing dose of moisture.
How to get there
No airlines fly direct from the UK to Campeche. We suggest flying from London Heathrow to Mexico City Airport. From there, jump on a connecting flight to Campeche Airport, which is just a 10-minute drive from the city's vibrant city centre.