The Coolest Places to Stay in the Yucatan Peninsula

Hotels such as the Mahekal Beach Resort combine traditional style with modern comfort
Hotels such as the Mahekal Beach Resort combine traditional style with modern comfort | Courtesy of Mahekal Beach Resort / Expedia
Photo of Laura Holt
Commissioning Editor16 October 2020

There’s more to the Yucatan Peninsula, on the east coast of Mexico, than the crowded tourist spot of Cancun. Whether you’re looking for beach- or lakeside, resort or remote, colonial or cabin, Yucatan has places to stay to suit all tastes and budgets. And you can book any of these options through Culture Trip.

Casa Azul Monumento Historico, Merida

Boutique Hotel
Map View
Courtesy of Casa Azul Monumento Historico / Expedia
You shouldn’t overlook Mérida, the Yucatan capital, when in Mexico’s best-loved beach state – and Casa Azul, a 19th-century certified historic monument, is your palatial base when in the Ciudad Blanca (White City). The so-called Blue Hous has just eight suites, each inspired by a local landmark, including a Franciscan convent and 16th-century cathedral, while the pink, flower-filled suite is an ode to the Santa Isabel hermitage. Restaurant tables are tucked between colonial-era columns, breakfast comes gratis and courtyard gardens give way to a small pool. Three daughters restored this casa together and you’ll feel part of the familia in no time.

Toto Blue, Bacalar

Map View
Courtesy of Toto Blue / Expedia
The lakeside town of Bacalar may be on an upward curve as a tourist destination, but it manages to retain a certain laid-back charm. Toto Blue is well placed if you’re here to explore the incredible Lagoon of Seven Colors. It only has 11 rooms, with a bar, free wifi and bikes you can use for free, plus hammocks on the rooftop providing the ideal spot to chill out.

Chablé Yucatan, near Mérida

Resort, Hotel
Map View
Courtesy of Chablé Yucatan / Expedia
This jungle-shrouded spa hotel near the Yucatan capital, Mérida, is the antidote to the peninsula’s bustling resorts. Based around a centuries-old cenote, or underground pool, the treatment menu blends ancient Mayan mysticism with modern facilities (wood-lined cabins, a sauna, steam room, even “sensation showers”). Plus, there’s an outdoor infinity pool set in sleek, white marble. Afterwards, steal a siesta in your private casita within the 19th-century walls of the hotel, itself set in a working hacienda that produces home-made honey, jams, butter and more.

Aqua Star Hotel, Mahahual

Map View
Courtesy of Aqua Star Hotel / Expedia
If you’ve come to Mexico’s playa playground for gloriously blue seas and sugar-fine sand, you’ll find it at Aqua Star Hotel. Rooms and apartments are simple and functional, done out in tropical woods and shades of blue that nod to the view outside. Plump for one with a balcony – or even a hot tub, if you’re feeling flush – and bag a sea-facing front-row seat. The pool deck and beach are pretty special, too.

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  • Mahekal Beach Resort, Playa del Carmen

    Resort, Eco Hotel, Garden Hotel
    Map View
    Courtesy of Mahekal Beach Resort / Expedia
    From above, Mahekal Beach Resort, comprising a handful of palapa-style huts with traditional palm-frond roofs, blends subtly into the jungle. At ground level, luxe touches including sea-facing beach houses and treehouse-style penthouses – there’s even a palatial residencia, with its own kitchen and private terrace with seating and hammocks. Plus you can enjoy the spa, several pools and a dive center that’s been here for 35 years, so they know every fish-filled corner of the nearby reefs. Ask nicely and they’ll show you where the turtles live.

    Punta Caliza, Isla Holbox

    Map View
    Courtesy of Punta Caliza / Expedia
    Until recently, Isla Holbox – an island off the north Yucatan coast – was very much a laid-back, lo-fi sort of place, where you kicked off your shoes on arrival and dispensed with them until you left. It still has many of those things – car-free, crowd-free, carefree – but the arrival of several hotels marks a turning point. Designed by young architects who won a competition for their Mayan-influenced ideas, Punta Caliza is all whitewashed walls, single-story dwellings, cedarwood interiors and palapa roofs. Come here from May to September, during whale shark season, when you can swim alongside the world’s largest fish.

    Mi Amor, Tulum

    Map View
    Courtesy of Mi Amor, Tulum / Expedia
    This loved-up hotel woos honeymooners and couples with an adults-only offering on the beach in Tulum. Rooms are designed for two and chef Paul Bentley, who has won awards for his Magno Brasserie in Guadalajara, seduces with his Med-Mexican menu in the main restaurant. There are jungle adventures in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere and river tours where you can spot spider monkeys swooping through matchstick palms. In the spa, couples can connect with various rituals performed in a traditional Mexican sauna. You’re in Tulum, after all…

    This is an updated version of an article originally written by Jack Guy

    These recommendations were updated on October 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.