Where to Stay in Cancún, Mexico

Finding the right hotel in Cancún will translate into a more authentic local experience
Finding the right hotel in Cancún will translate into a more authentic local experience | © Brian Overcast / Alamy Stock Photo
Jo Fernandez-Corugedo

Cancún isn’t only about world-class beaches and nightlife – spend a little time planning where to stay and you’ll have the keys to authentic local food and culture, too.

Cancún delivers a potent mix of fun and sun – its buzzy Zona Hotelera and idyllic Caribbean beaches attract a hedonistic international crowd. But you can have just as much pleasure in an unfancy-schmancy hotel – and enjoy easy access to local experiences in the bargain.

1. Hotel Kavia


Hotel Kavia pool with lights and trees at night
Courtesy of Hotel Kavia / Expedia

Located downtown, Hotel Kavia keeps things simple, with 62 spotless rooms of coconut-white bedding, relaxing shaded patios and breeze-cooled rooftop views. Still, this is one of the best places to stay in Cancun. You’re within towel-shaking distance of the local beachgoers’ favorite, sandy Playa Tortugas – and you could take a ferry out to Isla Mujeres. But many guests get nowhere close, dipping between Kavia’s inky-blue pool and nautical-stripe sunbeds. After nightfall, local taco joints beckon, before a late tequila or two.

2. Dreams Vista Cancun Resort and Spa All Inclusive

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel

A double room at Dreams Vista Cancun Resort with a sliding door opening to a dipping pool
Courtesy of Dreams Vista Cancun Resort / Expedia

To enter this awesome glass-and-concrete seafront new build involves pressing the bell to Puerta del Mar’s gated community. Inside it’s a triumph: 232 sleek rooms with wide-angle Caribbean views and monsoon showers. Family fun is the focus, but hold hands: it’s easy to get lost among all the pools and surf machines, the water park, climbing wall and scuba classes. The best Mexican moments are sunset tequila tastings before a spicy dinner at Mi Lucrecia.

3. The Royal Cancún All Suites Resort

Resort, Hotel

The Royal Cancún hotel buildings surround the outdoor pool area with palms
Courtesy of the Royal Cancún / Expedia

Set on a sheltered beach on Cancún’s quieter north shore, the Royal Cancún has panoramic views across to the Isla Mujeres, a serene escape for snorkeling and scuba diving. Each suite sleeps five with furnished balconies for sunbathing or snacking from your own kitchen. Make time for neighboring Torre Escenica, the 260-foot (80m) observation platform and tallest structure in Cancún, for some local history as well as snap-happy views.

4. Cancún La Joya Pool Escape


Cancún La Joya Pool Escape lawns with palms and pool
Courtesy of Cancún La Joya Pool Escape / Expedia

Townhouse-style living in the city center means easy access to the best-loved beaches – Tortuga, Langosta and Mujeres – at the tip of the Zona Hotelera. The unfussy, apartment-style rooms are a great jumping-off point to explore the local, maze-like Mercado 28. Haggle over edible treats to enjoy in the garden picnic spot or snap up artisan souvenirs – from silver jewelry to hand-painted skulls – to surprise friends when you get home.

5. Tulipanes Cancún


Tulipanes Cancun outdoor pool with palms and blue skies
Courtesy of Tulipanes Cancún / Expedia

Live like a local at this downtown collection of simply styled villas with cool outside spaces, towering palm trees and deep pink bursts of bougainvillea. Cozy rooms include petite kitchens and pool or garden views. Combine coastal fun with culture – head to nearby El Rey, a small archaeological Mayan temple, followed by the Ventura beachfront theme park, a heady combination of adrenaline-fueled activities and – huge fun for young ones – dolphin encounters.

6. White House Bed and Breakfast


White House Bed and Breakfast outdoor pool with palms and loungers
Courtesy of White House Bed and Breakfast / Expedia

It’s quality over quantity at this intimate guest house-with-pool on a quiet side street, south of central Cancún. The seven light-filled suites are each named after ancient Mexican civilizations. Breakfast is a distinctly local affair, featuring traditional Mexican sweet bread – ask the owner to help you whip up your own in the guest kitchen. Our top day-trip tip? A spin south along the shores of the Riviera Maya, speckled with ruins and cenotes and cloaked in mysterious jungle.

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