Pet-friendly for all types of traveling companions, big or small
Minimal cellular reception for phone calls
Mosquitos are a constant nuisance in the
Bali Huts have shared bathrooms
The Ahau Hotel could best be described as eco-chic. An upper-middle-range, 26-room property that has hosted the likes of Richard Branson, the hotel blends handcrafted artwork and bohemian decorations with rustic architecture that used 100 percent locally sourced materials. The rooms have outdoor space and most have great ocean views, but the entry-level Bali Huts really are little more than huts with beds (and no AC). There are daily yoga classes, bike rentals, windsurfing classes, and two attached restaurants, plus pets can roam freely. Free Wi-Fi and parking add to the value, although year-round mosquitos and limited cellular reception are issues. Pricewise, it’s on par with the nearby Beach Hotel, although the latter also has a pool.
A rustic-chic beachfront property with a reduced ecological footprint
Ahau Tulum, opened in 2012, blends a tropical beach experience with an eco-lodge atmosphere, and there is a heavy focus on minimizing its ecological impact on the surrounding environment. All materials used in the construction of the hotel were locally sourced, and local craftsmen were used for the initial construction. Wood, thatch, and natural stone elements are featured heavily throughout the property, and the hotel doesn’t use any plastic bottling. Buildings were constructed around the natural landscape and vegetation as much as possible, giving the property a hidden-away-in-the-jungle vibe.
The plant-lined wooden stairway leading up to the main restaurant and reception area terminates just at the peak of the hill. To the left are the rooms and the Raw Love organic eatery, while straight ahead is the gentle slope down to the beach and the ocean beyond. The Raw Love restaurant is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it, with its wooden seats and tucked-away-location under the trees, and beyond it are the temezcal huts used in the sauna ceremonies. After arrival, guests can place their sandals or footwear on a rack just outside of the main restaurant, and either hang out in the lounge area while waiting for their rooms, or head on down to the beach.
Even though there is no pool, this is still a competitive upper-middle-range option in the Tulum Hotel Zone. The option of the basic Bali Huts (less than half the price of the other units) allows budget travelers to enjoy facilities that would otherwise cost much more. Plus, the hotel is pet-friendly, and there were various animals roaming the property during our visit, including a Golden Retriever and Labrador. Just note that mosquitos are a constant bother in the public areas. Early morning and evening are their preferred times, and they are worse during summer months.
In the heart of the Tulum Hotel Zone with sunrise
views over the Caribbean and constant wind
The beach is the main reason people come to Tulum, and Ahau is set in the heart of the tourist strip known as the Hotel Zone. However, there’s not much else surrounding the property apart from other hotels, and the remote location means that cell service is next to impossible to find while on-site. The city of Tulum itself is around 20 to 30 minutes away via automobile, although there’s plenty of scenery to enjoy down the length of Tulum’s Hotel Zone for those who want to walk down the beach or explore via bicycle.
Oceanside rooms with rustic finishes, a few modern
amenities, and outdoor space
There are four levels of rooms available, starting with the four basic (and tiny) Bali Huts, which offer nothing more than a full-size bed with mosquito netting, fan (no AC), and an outdoor garden with a bathroom with shower (typically shared with one other unit). The upgrade to one of the 16 Junior Suites or six Master Suites is significant, which is reflected in the price. Four of the Junior Suites have two queen-size beds, and the rest of the rooms come with a single king-size bed. Apart from three of the Junior Suites, which offer garden and partial ocean views, the rest of the rooms have full ocean views and direct access to the beach. The rooms are categorized as either top level or beach level. All of the rooms have a balcony or terrace with outdoor furniture, and the spacious Master Suites feature an outdoor dining table for up to eight people and a full-size daybed.
Wood and natural stone are used liberally throughout, and plaster walls often have stenciled painted accents. Some of the four-poster bed posts are driftwood. Rustic furniture and bamboo accents add to the eco-lodge feel, and mosquito netting over the bed is both attractive and useful, especially for guests who want to keep their windows open at night to let in the ocean breeze. While air-conditioning is provided in all but the Bali Huts, the hotel has limitations on its use, and it is mostly only available at night, in accordance with the hotel's ecological focus. As no plastic bottles are allowed on the property, each room has its own fresh water container that’s refilled daily. Small standing pools are situated at the entryways of each room to wash the sand off your feet prior to entering.
The bathrooms have dark-wood trim, natural stone countertops, and a combination of plaster and natural stone on the walls. They have showers with rainfall showerheads; some are outdoor.
A beautiful beach, two restaurants,
windsurfing and yoga classes, bike rentals, and a pet-friendly policy
The highlight here is the beautiful white-sand beach, equipped with quality cushioned loungers with bamboo coverings for shade. There are two restaurants at the hotel: the eponymous Ahau Restaurant which also doubles as the main hangout lounge and reception area, with dreamcatchers hanging from the timbers; and the Raw Love organic and raw restaurant in the heart of the property with driftwood furniture. Water is available for free throughout the day to all guests, both in the rooms as well as at the restaurants. Free bread and coffee are sent around every morning to the rooms, although guests can also opt to partake at the main restaurant. This is also where the hotel keeps its organic leaf tea options stashed, for those who prefer tea over coffee.
The main lobby is the only area where guest can get cell phone reception (during our visit we only got a couple of bars while on the top of the steps, and nowhere else on the property). It’s also where guests can book bike rentals and morning yoga classes, as well as activities such as windsurfing, paddleboarding, and temezcal sauna ceremonies. Massages, manicures, and pedicures are available upon request.