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Villa Pescadores, Tulum, Mexico
Booking.com / Villa Pescadores, Tulum, MexicoVilla Pescadores, Tulum, Mexico

The 11 best hotels in Tulum

From bohemian boutique to swanky beach digs, these are the 11 best hotels in Tulum for everything from culture to coral

Written by
Ruth Jarvis
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If Tulum didn’t exist, Instagram would have to invent it. But nature created the expansive white sands, swaying palms and coral seas, the Mayans topped them with a picturesque city and boutique bohemians turned it into a fashion phenomenon. Ninety minutes south of Cancun, Tulum is really two towns: the beachside strip threaded with low-rise hotels, bars and restaurants; and the "Pueblo" inland, where real life happens.

No prizes for guessing where hotel tariffs are higher (and getting stratospheric), though the smart money is now booking into hipster Pueblo digs such as Huitzical and shuttling to the beach by bike or taxi. Alternatively, best value beach option is Villa Pescadores. Wherever you choose to stay from our list of Tulum’s best accommodation, you’ll find a winning mix of options that take in toucan-filled gardens, outdoor film screenings, turtle-friendly lighting and solar-powered beach huts.

The 11 best hotels in Tulum

Staying in one of the seven suites at the House of Waves is a bit like being the house guest of a charismatic friend in possession of a private beach and impeccable taste. Everything feels personal, from the service to the conversation to the communal dining. An architectural landmark, the Casa was designed to capture the breeze for natural cooling, one of many eco-friendly credentials. Its isolation at the far end of the beach makes for true tranquility.

Huitzical (‘kingfisher’) was conceived and built from the ground up as a design hotel, and a brilliantly welcoming and unpretentious one. It’s amazing value, too – the Pueblo location means you won’t pay a beach premium. The rooms are large and well specified with boutique-quality beds; the style element comes from antique mosaic floors, contemporary Mexican art and washbasins carved from solid Yucatan rock. Welcome bonuses include free bike hire, shared kitchen, toucans in the garden and tacos for breakfast.

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There’s a fabulously relaxing vibe around Villa Pescadores, where nature, rather than self-conscious stylishness, sets the tone. The 18 thatched huts are integrated into their sand-dune setting and made with local materials, including living palm trees. Fishermen (‘pescadores’) do indeed drag their boats onto the broad sands here, and sell their wares to the restaurant, where zingy Mexican cuisine is served and fish grilled whole on the beach. Night brings a gentle techno soundtrack and outdoor films. No fancy facilities, but no fancy prices either.

Eco-friendly Nueva Vida gets paradise right, and plenty of plaudits and return visits as a result. It’s soul-soothingly natural and peaceful, its 31 spacious cabins integrated into forest and beautifully tended gardens. They’re simple and (because of the solar and wind power) bereft of appliances, but comfortable and pleasingly decorated with outdoor showers and an eye for a colourful accessory. The beach is kept clean – the family owners are active in local environmental circles – and there’s an inviting assortment of lounging options.

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The ‘K’ honours the Mayan god of wind, Ku-Kul-Kan, whose priests once meditated in caves beneath Diamante’s beachside site. His statue now greets the mellow young set who come to worship sea and sand at this picturesque thatched hamlet with its funky sculptures (watch out for fashion shoots). Staff are friendly and expert and know not only how to mix a cocktail but how to serve it to your hammock in style. Cabanas are simple and airy, with cooling tile floors.

This pretty, well-run hostel on the outskirts of Tulum Pueblo has a private room, which is one of the best bargains in town, especially since parking and breakfast are free. Alternatively, there are mixed and female dorms, with comfortable, pastel-painted bunkbeds. The highlight is the spacious garden, nicely landscaped with palms, fruit trees and a little pool. It’s garlanded with hammocks outside and in, reflecting a chill-out vibe (it’s not a party hostel).

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Luv’s eco-credentials run to solar-powered fridges (who knew?) and turtle-friendly lighting. In the kitchen, cutting food miles just makes things more delicious, with local food (some organic), coffee from neighbouring Chiapas and handmade tortillas and banana bread. Beyond a candlelit bar, the facilities are minimal: the point here is, like Luv itself, to go off-grid. The 12 handsome cabanas, dotted with Mexican artefacts, are nonetheless rather special.   

Papaya’s vision is to translate the ethos of an arty private members’ club to a Yucatan beach, by drawing on the natural, the spiritual, the cultural and the sustainable. It describes itself as ‘a communal playground for the creative community’, and artistic collaboration is encouraged – there’s even a beach amphitheatre. Kick the day off with yoga or tai chi and end it with killer cocktails and guest DJs before retiring to your ‘barefoot luxury’ home. Design and landscaping are simple and locally inspired, with a photogenically stylish tweak.

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In a Mexican area of Tulum Pueblo, three-star PYK is a real bargain if you don’t just want non-stop beach, and it makes a great touring base. It’s a walled enclave with gardens so lush that second-floor guests compare their suite to a treehouse. Inside the style is white adobe, chunky wood and exposed beams, with kitchenette; outdoors is a curvy pool, treatment room and a squillion lizards. You can walk into town (10 minutes) or ask staff to call a cab.

White adobe, palm-thatched beach-hut rooms, driftwood-chic: sounds basic? Not so. The vibe is relaxed and comfortable, but sophistication is at your beck and call here, from morning yoga and an open-air spa to a lazy-river pool. The biggest luxury lies there in the name: step from your private terrace with its pool and you are literally on the sand, with a slice of seafront all to yourself. You can dine on fashionable eats beachside, plus there’s a pool bar and beach club.

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Life is sweet and simple at ‘Sugar’ hotel. It’s a huddle of solar-powered beach huts with a pleasingly ramshackle Key West vibe. One of only a few simple and relatively inexpensive places with their own beachfront, Azucar harks back to Tulum’s sand-between-your toes early days. Don’t expect much in the way of facilities, though, other than a stunning sunrise, daily.

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