The Coolest Places to Stay in the Yucatán 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
Senior Commissioning Editor2 September 2021
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Palapa-shaded beach retreats and plunge-ready spa hotels line up around Mexico‘s most popular peninsula.

From Holbox to the jungle-knitted hinterland around Mérida, there’s more to the Yucatán than the crowded hotspot of Cancún. Here, we ditch the all-inclusives and head instead for wholesome hotels that’ll leave you with more than just dodgy tan lines – all bookable on Culture Trip.

You can now explore the region by booking Culture Trip’s small-group, nine-day Yucatán Peninsula tour.

Casa Azul Monumento Historico, Mérida

The garden at Casa Azul Monumento Historico in Merida has a small fountain, plants in a row, and seating
Courtesy of Casa Azul Monumento Historico / Expedia
You shouldn’t overlook Mérida, the Yucatán 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 House 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 columns, breakfast comes gratis and courtyard gardens give way to a small pool. Three daughters restored this casa and you’ll feel part of the familia in no time.

Toto Blue, Bacalar

An eclectic mix of outside seating at Toto Blue in Bacalar is shaded by a pergola
Courtesy of Toto Blue / Expedia
The lakeside town of Bacalar may be on an upward curve as a destination, but it manages to retain a certain laid-back charm – thanks in part to its way-down-south location on the Belizean border and the fact it’s not quite on the Yucatán coast. But what it lakes in shoreline, it makes up for with the incredible Lagoon of Seven Colors. Set just back from the natural spectacle, you’ll find Toto Blue, with just 11 boutique rooms, a bar and free bikes to borrow, plus hammocks on the rooftop practically begging you to chill out.

Chablé Yucatán, near Mérida

A spa cabin at Chablé Yucatán, near Mérida, has two massage beds with candles on and an open wall with views over a pond and the jungle
Courtesy of Chablé Yucatan / Expedia
This jungle-shrouded spa hotel near the Yucatán capital, Mérida, is the antidote to the bustling resorts of the peninsula. 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, a working hacienda that produces honey, jams and more.

Aqua Star Hotel, Mahahual

Adirondack seating on a balcony at Aqua Star Hotel in Mahahual with views out to the Mexican Caribbean Sea
Courtesy of Aqua Star Hotel / Expedia
If you’ve come to Mexico’s playa playground for 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.

Mahekal Beach Resort, Playa del Carmen

Mahekal Beach Resort in Playa del Carmen pokes through palm trees, with a pond-like swimming pool in the middle
Courtesy of Mahekal Beach Resort / Expedia
From above, Mahekal Beach Resort with its handful of palapa-style huts 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 a kitchen and private terrace with hammocks. There’s a spa and several pools to spoil, plus 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

Simple suites at Punta Caliza in Isla Holbox open straight into a milky-blue swimming pool
Courtesy of Punta Caliza / Expedia
Until recently, Isla Holbox – an island off the north Yucatán 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

Mi Amor resort in Tulum sits with the Yucatan jungle, with lots of wooden decking and a long pool
Courtesy of Mi Amor, Tulum / Expedia
This loved-up hotel woos honeymooners and couples with its adults-only offering on the beach in Tulum. Rooms are designed for two and chef Paul Bentley, who’s 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 Reserve 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…

For more options, discover our guide on where to stay in Cancún, or try these hotels in Isla Holbox, and book now on Culture Trip.

These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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