Known for its fabulous shopping and nightlife, not to mention the gorgeous beaches, Playa del Carmen is a wonderful travel destination in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Accommodations here range from budget-friendly hotels to luxurious resorts. But if you’re looking for something a little more unique, there are also plenty of charming boutique options. After visiting the top hotels in the area, we compared each to see how they stacked up against each other — from the guest room to the restaurants to the pools. Scroll down to see our picks for the best boutique hotels in Playa del Carmen!
The former estate of an Italian duchess, the ultra-luxurious Esencia oozes Mediterranean elegance and style. With just 29 rooms spread over 50 acres, the property feels intimate and exclusive, and shows a thorough attention to detail in everything from the services to the decor. Upscale, contemporary rooms are housed in two-story buildings set amid lush tropical grounds, and feature lots of high-end amenities, including pre-loaded iPods, Molton Brown toiletries, and in some, even private plunge pools. The gorgeous spa, excellent restaurant, and relaxing pools with ocean views are highlights.
The Viceroy Riviera Maya is a seriously upscale resort nestled in a lush rainforest setting 15 minutes' drive from the Playa del Carmen town center. Chic, rustic villas are awash with deluxe touches, and private patios feature heated plunge pools and alfresco "moon showers." Although rocky in places, the beach has white-powder sand and turquoise waters; it makes an attractive backdrop to the serene pool area and sea-facing restaurants. While families with kids should look elsewhere (children under 14 are not allowed) couples looking for a secluded, romantic retreat -- who aren't afraid of splashing the cash -- will be sure to find it here.
This upscale 65-room boutique between Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos has a beautiful setting on a white-sand beach, amid a jungle preserve. Contemporary rooms are equipped with original artwork, furniture from the hotel’s own workshops,king beds and either a terrace or a balcony. The great amenities on offer, including three pools, upscale dining, a wonderful spa, and a gorgeous beach, make this a solid pick, but prices are quite steep; other luxury resorts in the area may offer better value.
El Dorado Maroma, is an adults-only all-inclusive about 40 minutes south of Cancun. The resort is smaller and quieter than many nearby all-inclusives, but it’s chock-full of amenities. There are six on-site restaurants, numerous bars, multiple pools, aspa with beachfront massage services, and a modern fitness center. There is a wide range of room options at El Dorado Maroma, including suites with swim-up terraces. However, the beach -- which is little more than a marina with sand -- is disappointing. Food and drinks throughout the hotel are fairly mediocre, but most restaurants feel character-less and slightly unappealing. And despite being an all-inclusive resort, the hotel charges an extra fee for Wi-Fi.
Located in central Playa del Carmen, the 57-apartment El Taj Oceanfront & Beachside Condos Hotel is really two adjacent luxury properties in one, sharing facilities and amenities. Two blocks from shopping mecca Fifth Avenue, El Taj is rightly considered one of the area’s best hotels, with a private beach and beach club, a spa, a large, modern gym, and several excellent restaurants, as well as gorgeous rooms, all with private balconies and full kitchens, and some with rooftop decks and private hot tubs. It's worth being aware, however, that many of the hotel's facilities (like the restaurants and gym) are a few minutes away from the hotel.
Maya Villa Condo Hotel & Beach Club is an excellent option for vacationers who want an upscale condo near the beach and bustling 5th Avenue. The heated (but tiny) swimming pool is located by the rooms, but the restaurant, fancy beach club, and sprawling fitness center are a block away. Condos are spacious and prettily decorated, especially for this price point: Full kitchens have stainless steel appliances, bathrooms include marble, and some units have rooftop terraces with ocean views and private hot tubs.
Acanto Hotel and Suites's 21 condo-style units are a hidden oasis from the hustle and bustle (and loud pedestrians) of La Quinta Avenida. Chic, upscale decor, including marble floors, wood furniture, and granite countertops, are a welcome contrast to the grit of the strip. While there is no bar or restaurant, the hotel provides free continental breakfasts and offers plenty of discounts at neighboring businesses. Features include a small relaxing pool and a nice rooftop barbecue area with beach views. The beach is a (very long) block away, so using the hotel’s discounted entry into a handful of nearby beach clubs is a better option.
Introduced in 2013 and debuting Playa del Carmen’s largest rooftop terrace, The Palm at Playa is a modish, 69-room boutique just blocks from the beach. Rooms are large, featuring hip, mid-century decor; most have huge two-person walk-in showers, lounge areas, and large wet bars. Designed for the cool kids, the expansive rooftop terrace has an infinity pool, large hot tub, and bar with panoramic views. There are also a small spa, gym, and garden grounds to help guests relax after partying all night at the club across the street or rooftop disco.
Located across the street from the town square, La Pasion Hotel Boutique has 34 rooms that are both practical and stylish, though some are small. Thoughtful on-site features include booze tastings, two pools and a hot tub, a fantastic free breakfast spread, and lots of indoor and outdoor lounge space, plus spa treatments for an extra charge. The hotel is just outside of the La Quinta Avenida zone, but it's one of Playa Del Carmen's better and quieter boutiques. For those who want to be closer to the action, check rates at Aventura Mexicana.
Right off of the northern edge of the busy and bustling La Quinta Avenida strip, the 28-room Hotel Casa Ticul is an upper-middle-range boutique that’s ideal for those looking to relax in comfort after exploring the area. Rooms have simple chic decor and thoughtful toiletries; some have whirlpool tubs or outdoor showers. While there’s no direct beach access, the hotel has free or discounted entry to some local beach clubs, two small pools (but no loungers), and a large rooftop deck where free homemade Mexican breakfast is served.
A boho-chic, beachfront property, the mid-range Mahekal Beach Resort has 122 rooms with garden or ocean views, many of which have thatched roof bungalows -- though they lack TVs and telephones. Features include two swimming pools, three bars, and two restaurants, but no gym. Kids are welcome here, but with its bars, sexy, naturalistic decor, and proximity to nightlife, the resort feels more like a place to bring a significant other (or to meet one).
Hotel Riviera del Sol is a stylish boutique with 23 clean, simple, and spacious rooms with a contemporary (if basic) hacienda style design and Caribbean beach decor. Walking distance to a public beach and popular beach clubs, and surrounded by a plethora of bar, restaurant, and shops, this mid-range boutique is in a convenient location -- though parking can be rough. Guests can take advantage of a small garden-set pool with barbecue, massage treatments, and freebies like hot and cold continental breakfast, weekly yoga class, drink coupon for the bar, and Wi-Fi -- plus discounts at Mamita’s Beach Club and a nearby gym.