Located to the south of Cancun and just a short ferry ride across the waters from Cozumel, Playa del Carmen is a tourist’s dream destination. You’ll need a base for your stay, of course, so what are your options? Here’s our list of the top 10 cultural hotels in pretty Playa, from those with rooftop pools to budget options.
La Divina by Aldea Thai
This optimally located boutique hotel is perfectly positioned between the beach and the buzzing La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) that dominates the Playa del Carmen nightlife scene, making it an excellent option for both party lovers and families, and ensuring you’re perfectly positioned to enjoy all the culture Playa del Carmen has to offer. Inspired by a fresh Thai interior design, La Divina by Aldea Thai teams this sleek and classy finish with the relaxed Mexican Caribbean atmosphere for which the Riviera Maya is famed. The devil is in the details, and beaded cushions, bamboo and ornate light fittings make this hotel feel truly luxurious.
Magic Blue Boutique Hotel
Another excellently situated option, Magic Blue Boutique Hotel boasts a rather more rustic vibe than La Divina. Think classic Mexican paradise: lush, swaying palm trees, palapa sunshades and hammocks stretching between tree trunks. However, this deceptively casual air doesn’t wholly reflect the contemporary design touches that permeate the interior of this boutique gem in the center of Playa del Carmen. Stay in clean and comfortable rooms, but still feel in touch with the outdoorsy, jungle vibe of Magic Blue, as vibrant greenery is a feature throughout. Magic Blue also plays host to two classy beach clubs, including the sumptuous Indigo Beach, which has an excellent breakfast buffet. Sample national cuisine with many vegetarian options in the restaurant, then spend time on the in-water sun loungers. Consisting of 45 rooms spread over three buildings, this 10th Avenue hotel is something of a gem in Playa.
Hotel La Semilla
Owners Alexis and Angie met in New York many moons ago, and after working in hospitality upon Angie’s return to her homeland, they established Hotel La Semilla in 2013. The couple’s globe-trotting reflects the nature of their hotel, which has numerous quirks throughout. Mexican nods are everywhere, however, through both flea-market furniture finds and vintage artisan products. Set against a backdrop of classic white, this mismatched but still incredibly well put-together set-up guarantees Hotel La Semilla a place on our list. With a homey and cosy vibe that distinguishes it from the abundance of hotel options in Playa, La Semilla is a perfect choice for those looking for laid-back vacationing. Choose between cuartitos (“small rooms with a big personality”), or the larger cuartos (more spacious rooms with king-size beds). Hang out in the Cocina Loft restaurant, enjoy breakfast and chat with the owners, or soak up the sun in the quaint garden area.
Hotel Posada Mariposa
Hotel Posada Mariposa has recently been remodeled – having opened its doors in 2001 – and displays chic Mayan-influenced architecture. This is a conveniently located four-star boutique hotel, perfect for those looking for a comfortable and relaxing retreat in Playa del Carmen, be they couples or families (although the latter may want to request rooms away from the noise of La Quinta). The staff are courteous and have an excellent command of English, making the stay smooth and confusion-free for all involved. This is a mid-range option price-wise, yet the clean and modern rooms look like they should be pricier, given the attention to detail and spaciousness. Neither fussy nor basic, Posada Mariposa is a solid mid-range option for anyone staying in glamorous Playa.
Mexican charm pervades Hotel Lunata, which is ideally located in downtown Playa del Carmen, on La Quinta but in a more tranquil area. The interior is basic and designed Hacienda-style, with tiled walls and vibrant colors, but it’s not ostentatious or overwhelming. Bonus points go to the serene location, functional amenities and attentive service. Mexican touches are everywhere in this 10-room hotel, from the typically star-shaped light fittings to the high arches and quaint garden, which has several balcony rooms overlooking it. Hotel Lunata is colorful and overflowing with true Mexican charm, which can sometimes be hard to come by in the popular beach resort of Playa del Carmen.
Featured in a Guardian article about the best budget accommodations, Paamul is just that – depending on the room you opt for – but it is also a culturally interesting spot given its beach location and the abundance of interaction with local wildlife – and we’re not just talking about mosquitoes. Located in a private bay 10 minutes south of Playa, Paamul offers cheaper rooms in the basic wood cabanas or slightly more expensive options in the small hotel block, but all have private facilities. However, we recommend Paamul due to its proximity to the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline on the Riviera Maya, perfect for the explorer within, and the chance to observe marine turtles laying their eggs at night. The diving is also excellent. With 12 suites, a master suite and 10 cabanas, Paamul is worth seeking out.
Barrio Latino Hotel
You’d never guess this was a budget hotel just by looking at it. Barrio Latino offers exceptionally clean, well-kept and comfortable surroundings for low prices, making it a no-brainer recommendation, particularly for price-conscious travelers. It’s regularly featured in travel guides, and it’s easy to see why due to its great location, welcoming service and rustic decor. And what better way to experience the culture of a place than by saving money on your accommodation that can then be spent making memories? Plus, there are authentic Mexican dining options dotted all around the Barrio Latino Hotel, so you can immerse yourself in all Playa del Carmen has to offer without breaking the bank. Settle down amongst cactus and palm trees, and let host Alberto work his magic!
Acanto Hotel and Suites
Quiet and peaceful, this boutique hotel is the perfect place for those looking to relax and pamper themselves, as it has a gorgeous rooftop pool with spectacular ocean views, along with a relaxing spa and access to the gorgeous Indigo Beach Club. You can dine with the sand between your toes and soak up the relaxed Mexican Caribbean vibe before returning to the spacious and simple bedrooms, which are based around a neutral cream and brown color palette, with vibrant orange accents. Smooth, glossy wood furniture is heavily featured, too, only enhancing the quality vibe of Acanto Hotel and Suites.
A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner for five years running, Hotel Cielo is a lower priced option that doesn’t skimp on quality. A short distance from the ADO bus terminal, this mid-range hotel is a comfortable option in the center of Playa del Carmen. Their stunning tiled rooftop, overflowing with plants and architectural quirks, is a huge selling point and offers spectacular views over the sea. Hotel Cielo also maintains a certain level of Mexican charm, with wrought-iron railings and tiled floors, yet also manages to inject contemporary touches into the quaint bedrooms, which are all smoke-free. Leafy, light and airy, Hotel Cielo also has an on-site restaurant, Carboncitos.
Additional reporting by Jo Varley.
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