Interiorssneak peeks

DRIFT San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

by Amy Azzarito

Stu Waddell opened the DRIFT San Jose just this past January. Originally from Vancouver, Stu had spent years working with resorts, resort real estate developments and luxury hotel brands. Once, while consulting for a Five-Star hotel in Hawaii, he was asked to rush overnight to a luxury resort in the Caribbean and, after traveling halfway around the world, he awoke the next morning in a nearly identical environment. Looking to make a career change, Stu wanted to find a way to help the independent traveler. Before moving to San Jose del Cabo, Stu spent two years living in Mexico City. He fell in love with the country of Mexico – but not the all-inclusive “spring break” style resorts that define how most travelers experience the country. Stu decided that he wanted to change that experience. DRIFT San Jose is located in the Historic Art District of San Jose del Cabo in Baja California Sur, Mexico. The hotel is the jumping-off point for people to experience local recreation and culture – such as surfing the miles of empty beaches, kite surfing in La Ventana, exploring the ranch town of Santiago, hiking to the nearby hot springs , watching the film festival in Todos Santos or stand up paddling with whale sharks. Reservations to the hotel are handled through airbnb – it’s $75 per night or $700 for the entire 8-room hotel (How awesome would a small wedding be here?).  And I must say, looking out at snow covered New York, San Jose del Cabo is sounding like a pretty nice place to be right about now. –Amy

Image above: I found an old apartment building in Downtown San Jose del Cabo, in the Historic Art District, one block from the cathedral. I took the original 6 one-bedroom apartments and remodeled the building to have 8 hotel rooms, each room with one queen bed floating on a concrete base, a bathroom with open concept shower and with handmade copper shower head, and a writing desk.  The rest of the building was turned into a community kitchen, laundry, and caretakers suite. There is a very popular fire pit, small retail store selling innovative design out of Mexico City, and a rooftop deck with a lavender garden. Patio spaces are shared by all guests, Aculpulco chairs are made on site by our gardener, Benito. A neighborhood cantina-style bar is coming soon. Keeping the rooms minimal was important to the concept, only vintage Lucha Wrestling posters from Mexico City in handmade, solid steel frames add a bit of color to each room.

Image above: The design concept was inspired by both Baja ranches and industrial architecture. All the aluminum windows, ceramic tile floors, Home Depot fixtures, original wood doors and cabinets were stripped away to make room for a more rustic and simple palette of concrete and steel, with a bit of brick and wood furniture made from leftover building materials that were used to cast the concrete. All concrete was done simply, as if on a ranch – allowing any flaws to show through. The huge windows were designed and custom built by a local welder out of steel, they roll open to let the outdoors in. To enter you need to step through the window rather than a traditional style door. The landscaping was simplified, using gravel that allows visitors to focus on sixteen amazing 100-year-old palms that were found on the property.


See more of this hotel in Mexico after the jump!









Image above: DRIFT has been designed to be social, instead of building walls that hide people away from each other in the name of privacy. DRIFT opens up to a central courtyard and communal kitchen prompting interactions between guests.

Image above: DRIFT is a do-it-yourself kind of place with little amenities. Instead of providing luxury services, we keep costs down so real travelers can spend their money on more adventurous pursuits like diving, kite surfing and road trips through the desert.



Image above: Cabo Pulmo, about 1.5 hours away from DRIFT, is one of the most famous diving spots on earth. The hotel is located in the downtown Historic Art District of San Jose, and there are great surf beaches minutes away, but the hotel is very downtown, urban.

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  • Great design, but I’m not sure this appeals to me for a hotel stay… too cold and hard-edged. Especially the concrete floors and tub.

    • Lisa – Keep in mind that this hotel is in Mexico, so I bet the floors feel nice and cool after a day out in the sun. :) -Amy

  • Thanks for sharing this. I feel drawn to the place. I’ve sent the link to my sons and I hope to have a family retreat there some day in the not too distant future.

  • Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. Can’t say I’m down with being railroaded into interacting with strangers; though it’s delightful when it’s planned and welcome, it is not what I want on vacation.

  • love this.
    and Amy you are right about the concrete. I stay in a small boutique hotel in Desert Hot Springs that has concrete floors and it is very soothing on a hot day.
    here is the link: http://www.hopespringsresort.com/
    as a life long minimalist, (yes, even as a child I thought that less was better) this is the type of space that I find very relaxing.

  • we go to the mayan riveria every year and believe me you want hotels with tile or concrete floors in that kind of climate!

  • I absolutely love this and I agree about concrete floors in hot weather. As I scrolled through I thought this would be a wonderful design for Maui also where you’re often dragging sand and wet towels into the house.

    I love the minimalist but organic design, very inspiring. I often wish I could live in a hotel room. Each hotel stay reminds me of how much better life will be once I’ve freed myself of too many things.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Love, love, love the look here- all of the urban details against that Mexican beauty….palm trees, Benito’s chairs……wonderful – so well designed !

  • I love the design too, especially since it keeps the cost down and the vibe communal. Thanks for sharing!

  • I might be interested in renting the entire place for one week for a family vacation. However, I need more info.