No on-site parking (paid and limited parking is available across the street)
Complaints of noise from nearby Coco Bongo nightclub
The pool isn't heated
La Tortuga Hotel & Spa is an intimate boutique hotel best described as "barefoot chic." It's a good option for couples who want to watch their budget and be within fast walking distance of tourist-friendly 5th Avenue and the beach, but it's not the place for the typical Mexico vacation of all-inclusive packages on the beach. Older, but comfortable, rooms are centered around a gorgeous lagoon-style swimming pool landscaped with lush tropical plants, though the water isn't heated. The on-site restaurant and bar are solid choices, but there's plenty of options in the immediate neighborhood. Be warned that nearby Coco Bongo nightclub rages until the wee hours, so pack earplugs.
La Tortuga Hotel & Spa had a laid-back and cool hippie-chic vibe. Some of the buildings and fixtures could use a refresh, but the slightly worn (yet very clean) look is part of the boutique charm. The lobby is painted sea-green. Wooden floors with a pebble detail and a built-in green sofa give a slightly beachy look to the space. The indoor/outdoor chic living room area is decorated with white cement walls and built-in sofas topped with green cushions. Wooden coffee tables, interesting sculptures, and colorful paintings add a sense of luxury. A bookcase holds books to borrow and there's a billiards table. Most guests are international couples; the overall vibe is quiet and laid-back, and not the party scene some expect in the area.
La Tortuga has an almost unbeatable location (if you don't mind walking to the beach) in Playa del Carmen. The urban location is just one block from 5th Avenue where there are almost endless restaurants, art galleries, souvenir shops, and bars. White sandy beaches are a little further, Zenzi Beach Club is about three blocks away. There isn't any parking on the property. Guests with cars must either find a spot on the street or hope for one of the limited spaces at the paid parking lot across the street from the hotel.
There are just 51 rooms and suites centered around the courtyard swimming pool at La Tortuga. Standard Rooms are the cheapest, and smallest, option and can sleep up to three people. Decor includes worn, orange-tiled floors, white and bright-blue walls, and floral bed runners on the beds. Air-conditioning, a tube TV, stocked minibar, coffeemaker, and safe are standard in each. Bathrooms have blue and white tiles, and step-in glass showers along with single sinks and free toiletries. It may be worth the upgrade to a Standard Room with a terrace just for the hammock and whirlpool bath in the bathroom. Some rooms step right out to the swimming pool. Wi-Fi is free in all of the rooms.
Housekeeping ups their animal towel game by adding googly eyes and fresh flowers to their elaborate folded creations left on the beds. Rooms facing the street can pick up noise from a nearby nightclub.
Elaborate swimming pool, spa, and Mediterranean restaurant
La Tortuga has some nice features for a smaller boutique hotel. Most notable is the courtyard swimming pool that's part lagoon, part lazy river, and part plunge pool. Tropical and lush landscaping gives the space a secluded vibe, even though some of the rooms have direct access to the water from their terraces. There's a hot tub in the center, though past guests have reported the pool is unheated and the whirlpool isn't quite hot. A limited continental breakfast is served each morning in the Como Como Osteria Mediterranea restaurant, which also offers a full bar and a la carte lunch and dinner. There's indoor and patio-style seating. The spa is small and charmingly rustic. There are massage beds and chairs for treatments and a shabby-chic salon for nail services, where guests can also buy a few basic products. Think: sunscreen and face wash.
The hotel isn't on the beach, but it does provide guests with vouchers to use nearby beach clubs at a discounted rate. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel.
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