In Cancún, it's all about the classic combination of sun, sea and sand. The sun shines down all across Cancún, so it's the spots by the beach that hotels compete for. Never mind that hotel prices in central Cancún are a fraction of what they are on the coastal hotel strips, the powdery beaches backed by glamorous all-inclusives are Cancún’s main asset, and it’s hard to come to one of the largest resorts in all the Americas and not want a view of, or at least immediate access to, that sparkling blue Caribbean Sea just outside your window.
There are two main zones, the Zona Hotelera on a long sandy isthmus south-east of central Cancún, with every shape and size of resort and most of the nightlife, and the slightly quieter, more refined Playa Mujeres area to the northeast. And a world apart, the high-end Isla Mujeres are a boat ride away from the latter. Living up to its reputation as North America's ultimate spring break hotspot, the selection of sleeps in Cancún is vast. Relax, we’ve got you covered. We've handpicked the best boutique, family and adult-only hotels and resorts to make picking the right hotel as easy as pie.
Best hotels in Cancún
With a top spot in the middle of the Zona Hotelera, the Hard Rock Hotel does not merely tick all megaresort boxes: it does so with originality. Contemporary rooms have coffeemakers, liquor dispensers, open bathrooms and balconies, and are decorated with a rock-and-roll twist. Add in a highly regarded spa, fitness centre, five restaurants, an infinity pool and two swim-up bars and you’ve got a great resort hotel. And surprisingly, in a resort zone where adult-only hotels are common, the Hard Rock Hotel is very child-friendly, with a great kid’s club. There are even live rock concerts on the beach, it's everything you'd expect from a resort bearing the famous Hard Rock name.
Found smack-bang in the middle of Zona Hotelera, JW Marriott’s Cancún resort is one of the snazziest spots on the sun-soaked strip. With large, bright rooms and exquisitely decorated marble bathrooms, a gorgeous Mayan-themed spa and a fitness centre, the complex is definitely geared towards business people and couples seeking exclusive beach breaks, although families are welcome. If you find you need to get away from the spring breakers and the bustling beach, the hotel is near the Museo Maya de Cancún, a stunning museum holding some of the world’s most important Mayan artefacts.
At the north of Zona Hotelera, Le Blanc Spa Resort has earned a reputation as the top all-inclusive on the strip, which is no mean feat. This exquisitely designed adult-only complex takes TLC to a whole new level (we're talking butlers who will pack your clothes and pool attendants who will bring you iced towels). The stunning suites with their 2-person whirlpools look out on the adjacent lagoon or on a beach considered to have some of Cancún’s best sand. If you've got the budget, this is the place for you.
Off the southern end of the Zona Hotelera and one of the closest resorts to the airport, Cancún’s gargantuan 2,433-room Moon Palace boasts one of the best golf courses in Mexico, designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, and a spa complex running to almost 40 rooms. Fifteen restaurants (yes, fifteen!) and first-class children’s facilities feature, and the property is so large golf carts are required to travel between certain areas. If we had to find fault, it would be that while the resort does abut the beach, the sand’s not as nice as in the Zona Hotelera.
Living up to its name, this adults-only all-inclusive is found by the gorgeous white sands of Playa Mujeres, a slightly quieter but more refined area than Zona Hotelera. Suites here have Jacuzzi tubs and private balconies or even patios; some sport their own plunge pool. Nine restaurants, seven pools, a huge fitness centre and a spa bolster the appeal of one of the most luxurious options on an exclusive hotel strip.
When a 109-room hotel is billed as a boutique, you can't help but wonder just how huge its rivals are, but this is Cancún and the adult-only Beloved, a part of the Excellence Group, is small and stylish compared to some of the humongous hotels that surround it. There are no other options but suites: some with swim-up access, some with private plunge pools or gardens. A vast spa and fitness centre, and complimentary water sports gear are available.
This high-end resort is ideal for those willing to open their wallets in order to escape the crowds: it comprises just 35 luxury suites with features such as canopied beds, therapeutic showers, large balconies with whirlpool tubs and a minimum of 46sq metres of space. Two gourmet restaurants offer French-Mexican or Swiss-Northern Italian cuisine. It’s one of Cancún’s most expensive (and lavish) resorts in one of its most exclusive spots, perched peacefully on an isolated peninsula on Isla Mujeres.
If you’ve come to Cancún for hedonism, the Temptation is for you. The slick, sultry resort is set out to resemble the curves of the human body, has an adult-only, topless-if-you-want policy, serves aphrodisiac cocktails, offers guests a ‘sexy’ pool and even does ‘steamy sensuality’ in the restaurant. The latest addition is the 109-room Tower by Temptation, designed by leading industrial designer Karim Rashid. The resort is at the north of Zona Hotelera.
One of Zona Hotelera’s older resorts, this is among the easiest on the wallet and its superb family programmes make it one of the best all-rounders to check in to with kids. With family suites and children’s clubs for all ages from babies to teens, as well as entertainment from mini-golf and bicycle tours to table tennis, water-slides and a rock-climbing wall, this makes for a fun, laidback family stay.
Closer to downtown Cancún than some Zona Hotelera resorts, La Hacienda Cancún is who want access to the city without the vibes of the big, brash all-inclusives. Tucked away in the rainforest for a more traditional Mexican experience, the intimate 10-room colonial villa has a small spa, pool, temazcal (traditional Mayan sweat lodge), restaurant serving Yucatán cuisine and a range of activities from rainforest trails to table tennis.