Often regarded as the most laid-back city in Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is marked by stellar shopping, excellent dining, and luxurious hotels. Whether you’re looking for a large all-inclusive or a small boutique property, the area has a stay to match your style. After visiting dozens of the top hotels in Playa del Carmen, a team of Oyster investigators reviewed each to see how they stacked up against the competition. Taking into account the guest rooms, restaurants, and beach area, we narrowed down the best of the best. Take a look at our expert picks for the best luxury hotels in Playa del Carmen and start planning your getaway!
Rosewood Mayakoba is a gorgeous, peaceful retreat within the resort community of Playa Del Carmen, set on a mile-long stretch of beach. Though it features an extensive children's program, the resort largely attracts couples with its serene atmosphere, upscale restaurants, and spa. The 128 suites feature attractive contemporary decor -- picture clean lines, white walls, and rich woods -- as well as high-tech amenities and private outdoor plunge pools. They have an open-air vibe, with many floor-to-ceiling windows, and the overwater lagoon suites have swim-up access. Plus, suites include freebies such as Wi-Fi, fresh fruit, and bottled water. Seaweed debris along the beach keeps the Rosewood from being flawless (although they diligently attempt to keep it clean by sending staffers to rake it away), but otherwise this hotel is top-notch -- for guests willing to pay top dollar.
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 Grand Velas -- set on over 80 acres of mangroves that meet a postcard-perfect beach of white sand and turquoise waters-- is one of Riviera Maya’s most sophisticated properties. It features 491 top-notch suites spread out in three different buildings (two family-friendly, one adults-only), all with their own stunning pool complexes, gyms, and restaurants. The property is so huge guests will need to take a three-minute shuttle ride from the farthest building to the beach, but the hotel’s spotless service, outstanding food, luxurious spa, and wonderful amenities make it a great pick for discerning (and well-heeled) travelers.
As one might expect from the ultra-luxurious Banyan Tree brand, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba is one of Playa del Carmen's most sought after resorts. All of the 164 villas feature sleek Asian-inspired decor and Mexican textiles -- as well as walk-in showers, plunge pools, walled-in grass lawns, patios with hammocks, outdoor bathtubs, and fully stocked bars. The grounds,white-sand beach, and lagoon-like pool blend seamlessly with the surrounding nature. When you consider the high-end spa, plethora of outdoor activities -- such as golf, snorkeling, and eco tours -- and the fantastic dining, it's very hard to find anything wrong with this property.
This adults-only, luxury all-inclusive property with 507 rooms appeals to both 20- and 30-something couples. A particular draw of this resort is its proximity to the nightlife of downtown Playa del Carmen, especially bustling 5th Avenue, with the party-oriented will appreciate. But the gorgeous stretch of beach and the sophisticated rooms with two-person jetted tubs means romantic-minded couples will be pleased here as well. The range of features is, unsurprisingly, extensive, including seven restaurants and seven bars, an Olympic-sized pool, a wedding center, a spa, and daily entertainment.
The Royal Hideaway is a member of exclusive hospitality consortium Leading Hotels of the World, and as such is one of the most luxurious properties in the area. It features upscale rooms with high-end amenities, a full-service spa with great treatments, several pools, and the best food around. The beautiful grounds, overall sophisticated vibe, adults-only policy, and beautiful beachfront location a short drive from shopping on Playa’s Fifth Avenue make it one of the most attractive options for couples in Playacar.
Few properties in Riviera Maya offer the level of privacy the Fairmont Mayakoba does. The 401 contemporary rooms are set amid tropical forests and lagoons, and feature modern amenities, upscale bathrooms with glass-enclosed showers and separate jetted tubs, and nice views, either of the lagoons, the forests, or the ocean. Granted, sprawling grounds mean guests will need a golf cart or one of the BMW bikes the hotels provides to move around. Property highlights include a high-end spa, a number of dining options, five attractive pools -- including a 10,000 square-foot main pool, a kiddy pool, and an adults-only pool -- and a great location on a white-sand beach a few minutes north of Playa del Carmen. However, it’s not an all-inclusive resort and there are a few pesky fees.
Located on the Riviera Maya, south of Cancun, the 412-room Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun is a romantic, adults-only all-inclusive resort, set on a private white-sand beach lined with sunbeds, cabanas, and palapas. In addition to the buffet, a wide range of high-quality dining options are available, including Japanese teppanyaki, French cuisine, a wine cellar with over 200 different vintages, and, for an extra charge, romantic dinners for two on the beach. A stunning destination-style spa offers couples' treatments in private outdoor cabanas on the beach. Rooms are large and tasteful, with four-poster canopy beds, separate sitting areas, and private balconies; ground floor rooms are swim-up suites. The hotel is especially popular for honeymoons and destination weddings, though numerous additional fees can make a stay here pricey.
The 310-room, luxury, all-inclusive Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso is a Las Vegas-style, adult-only resort on the Riviera Maya. The resort is part of the five-hotel Iberostar complex, and guests at this hotel may use the amenities at all five properties, some of which are family-friendly. The high-end experience starts with champagne upon arrival, and continues with premium liquor, fine dining, a full-service spa, and several pools, including one dedicated to tranquil relaxation. The opulent decor incorporates marble and mosaic floors, glass chandeliers, modern artwork, and artisan-crafted furnishings. The lush, landscaped grounds complete the picture. Rooms are large and upscale, with jetted tubs, glass shower stalls, and personalized minibars.
The 291-room luxury Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun is an adults-only, all-inclusive resort located halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Rooms are of moderate size, with elegant decor that includes four-poster canopy beds, furnished balconiesor terraces, and jetted tubs. Guests at this outpost of the Secrets chain are granted Preferred status, with additional amenities and privileges that include premium liquor, concierge service in rooms, on the beach, and by the pool, free Wi-Fi, and free international calls. The property is stylish and upscale and resembles a Mediterranean villa, with lots of terraces, wrought iron, and marble. The spa has a full menu of treatments, including fish pedicures. On-site activities include water sports, games, language lessons, and beer tastings. The location in between two major cities makes it convenient for guests with a car, but there's nothing of interest within walking-distance.
Paradisus Playa Del Carmen La Perla is one of the best adults-only, all-inclusive luxury resorts in Maya Riviera. This chic property is located directly on the Caribbean, but the patch of white sand is narrow and it's a bit far from downtown Playa Del Carmen. No kids allowed means the gorgeous swimming pools remain calm and serene; there's a swim-up bar and waiter service, but guests tend to be seeking peace and quiet rather than a rowdy party scene. Even the most affordable rooms have marble floors and free minibars stocked daily. An upgrade means access to a semi-private swim-up pool and/or butler service. A huge variety of all-inclusive restaurants and bars get high marks for quality and service. The spa is romantic, with a water ritual, sexy day beds, and an expansive treatment menu.
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.
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.