Casa Natalia is described on their website as “a peaceful retreat that embodies the area’s vibrant art scene, culture, history and dining.” It was my first exploration of Baja California Sur and my first visit to the historic town of San José del Cabo. I made all the arrangements via the Internet. The photos looked bright and enticing, and I hoped that my stay would be just as the website described. I longed for that peaceful retreat in Mexico’s San José del Cabo.
My transportation from the modern Los Cabos International Airport was via Transcabo, easily arranged online where you can pre-pay. I enjoyed the drive through desert lands with peeks at the brilliant blue ocean. Once we arrived, the English-speaking driver assisted me with my luggage as we traversed the cobblestone street.
I stepped through the weathered wooden door of a lovely stucco building and was greeted by the concierge who sat behind a large Mexican antique desk. As he greeted me and explained where my room would be, I surveyed the long walled courtyard that housed the restaurant and outdoor living space at Casa Natalia. At the end of the blue-walled courtyard was a refreshing pool with white towels placed next to waiting chaise lounges. Magenta bougainvillea danced in the warm breeze. I took a deep breath. I was home.
Suite del Mar at Casa Natalia
My room, actually the Suite del Mar, was on the third floor. As we climbed the Saltillo tile stairs, I noticed how clean everything was. I was pleased to have help with my luggage. The door opened to an outdoor rooftop patio with hot tub, chaise lounges, hammock, table and bar. The beautiful bougainvillea contrasted with the blue sky and in the not so far distance a large Mexican flag rippled in the wind at the Municipal Plaza. I was not only home…I was in Mexico.
The room, as described, was decorated with local art, seashells and Talavera pottery. I discovered more bougainvillea on the bed…petals were arranged into a lovely piece of temporary art. I was intrigued with the small square windows that could be opened to let in the breeze.
The room was filled with necessities… an area to hang clothes, TV, toiletries, fluffy towels. Ice was available on the second floor. But I decided to rest outside on the lounge chair and study the skyline of Centro Historico. Casa Natalia was quiet, peaceful and beautiful… exactly like the pictures I had seen.
Dining at Casa Natalia
I spent some time exploring the hotel, talking to the knowledgeable concierge and perusing the menu. I met Chef Loic Tenoux, co-owner of Casa Natalia and the mastermind behind their restaurant, Mi Cocina. You’ll notice both he and Nathalie Tenoux are European, not Mexican.
Mi Cocina and the new Baja Oyster Bar reflect his unique culinary perspective. Euro-Mexican is the resulting style. But what will make you want to return is Chef Tenoux’s skilled use of spices, artful plating and local sourcing. They are known for their Baja seafood and the locally sourced, organic oysters from Sol Azul Seafarms. You’ll probably encounter Chef Tenoux chatting with diners and staff while you are there. Both his and Nathalie’s presence add to the welcoming atmosphere.
As Chef Tenoux offered samples of Mi Cocina’s menu, I was surprised by a meatball and quinoa couscous dish. With Turkish-spiced pork and beef meatballs in the light Mediterranean quinoa couscous, the dish was neither French nor Mexican and the smell of the spices easily took my mind to Turkey. Chef Tenoux then added to the imagery by telling me that during their time away, they often go sailing in the Mediterranean and one usual stop is to a spice shop in Turkey for that special spice mixture.
After enjoying breakfast and two dinners at Mi Cocina, I have to say my hands-down favorite was the Chef’s Shrimp Tacos… large, fresh local shrimp, on blue corn tortillas with guacamole, green tomato salsa topped with grilled parmesan cheese. It was rich and creamy (the European influence) but very Mexican (the tortilla and local shrimp). You can make a meal from the tacos or have a small plate as an appetizer. But you must have the shrimp tacos. And a house Margarita is an excellent pairing idea!
You can dine at Mi Cocina as a day visitor to San José or as a guest at another hotel. I would recommend you get a reservation and put the experience on your must-do list when in town.
Exploring the Art and Galleries Near Casa Natalia
San José del Cabo’s Gallery District, within steps of Casa Natalia, is open to visitors most days of the week. But on Thursday nights, the galleries have the streets closed and the area takes on a festive atmosphere. Two square blocks are filled with eclectic shops and fine art galleries, some of which are known around the world.
The evening I went out for the Art Walk, I enjoyed the company of co-owner Nathalie Tenoux as my guide for the evening. San José is a small town and business people like Nathalie know everyone.
Doors were open and the light of the galleries and shops flooded the streets. The warm night air allowed people to stop, linger and chat. As we walked, Nathalie urged me to go in to all the galleries and shops. We peeked in the doors leading to courtyard restaurants and saw that they were filling with diners adding to the vibrant scene. Be sure to read more about the shops and galleries of San José del Cabo here.
As the magical evening ended we were serenaded by a group of musicians as we walked the short distance back to Casa Natalia and dinner under the stars at Mi Cocina.
Exploring Mexican Life Around Casa Natalia
San José del Cabo certainly extends past the gallery district and tourist shops. There is much to discover. I could see the huge Mexican flag from my rooftop retreat and so wanted to explore the Municipal Plaza. I walked to the plaza and came upon a group of pregnant women and their coach doing exercises on yoga mats.
The plaza is anchored on one side by the city building, a lovely colonial style one-story with murals in the courtyard, and on the other side by the Catholic Church. The current building was reconstructed after a hurricane in 1918 but some of the original structure is preserved. A mosaic tells the story of the mission church founded by the Jesuit Priest, Nicolas Tamaral in 1730 and “watered with his own blood when tortured in 1734.” I heard the soft bells calling the faithful to mass each day.
It was December and the plaza was decorated with a tall Christmas tree and rimmed with Christmas market booths. In the evenings musicians and children’s dance groups performed on the stage and vendors sold food and gift items.
Another day I walked through the narrow streets to find the Municipal Market just to experience a little bit of daily Mexican life. Along the way I asked for directions and everyone was very helpful. The market was fun to explore. There was local produce, meats and fish. Clothing stores and a trinket store rounded out the offerings.
I found the glass blowing shop and watched the artisans and checked out the souvenir and craft shops.
Going to the Beach Near Casa Natalia
San José del Cabo’s historic district is not on the beach and that is one reason it is so charming. But the beach, and multi-story resort hotel zone is not all that far away. I enjoy walking so took off one morning to walk to the beach and nature preserve. I enjoyed the ducks at the preserve and wandered the beach behind the Holiday Inn. Beaches are public although the hotels have fenced off their pool areas making them private.
I walked the sandy beach, enjoyed the waves and was greeted by Jesús, who offered me a horseback ride, with a smile. On my way back, I stopped in to check out some shops and jewelry stores and picked up some beach bags as a gift for my granddaughters.
But fear not, you don’t have to walk to your beach experience. Casa Natalia provides exclusive access to a private San José del Cabo beach club located in the Puerto Los Cabos development. The El Ganzo Beach Club is just 9 minutes away from the hotel and has a great location just between the new marina and natural protected reserve.
In addition to being one of the only swimmable San José del Cabo beaches, the beach club offers guests perfect days of relaxation including paddle boarding, canoeing, shore fishing, bird watching and bicycling. Of course, it is also a peaceful place to lounge in the warm Cabo sun. Casa Natalia will arrange a taxi for you to spend the day at the beach.
Casa Natalia—Solo, Couples or Groups
Throughout my story, here, you’ve probably noticed that this was a solo experience for me. Yes, I went by myself, but felt more than comfortable sitting alone at the bar for a margarita and dining at Mi Cocina. I felt safe as I explored the streets of San José and would recommend Casa Natalia to couples, groups of friends and solos, like me.
There are many snowbirds from the United States and Canada who live in the area and so the locals are very used to those who speak English and those who are not used to the culture. The staff at Casa Natalia and your hosts, Nathalie and Loic, are warm and welcoming and go overboard to help you enjoy your stay.
I felt the pricing was reasonable and you might check the website and Facebook page for seasonal offers. Casa Natalia is a romantic place, provides a relaxing getaway and is everything their colorful, enticing website says they are. But most important of all, you’ll feel at home.
When You Go to Casa Natalia
You can book your room online or call the hotel directly at 888.277.3814 in the US or in Mexico at +52 624 14 67100.
4 Blvd. Mijares Centro 23400
San José del Cabo, MX 23400
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.