Many hotels in Mexico’s Riviera Maya region fall into one of two buckets: monster mega-resort or bohemian boutique hotel. This list zeroes in on the latter category. Take a look at the very best boutique hotels in the Riviera Maya.
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.
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. The 41 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.
With only 90 suites, the Zoetry Paraiso offers a romantic, wellness-centric boutique experience in the Mayan Riviera. The unique layouts of the suites offers different experiences to guests, including Terrace Suites with small bath-side indoor gardens, and Plunge Pool Suites with small personal outdoor pools. Even though warm, Mediterranean style is a bit different in each room type, all are spacious with comfortable furnishings and Bulgari toiletries. The pool area and beach are relaxed with double-wide lounge chairs (perfect for couples), and the on-site dining keeps the resort's wellness theme alive with delicious, healthy meals. Included amenities not standard at most all-inclusive resorts, such as a "welcome" bottle of tequila, daily bottle of champagne, a one-hour Catamaran sunset sail, three-times-daily maid service, and private chauffeured airport transfers, make this resort a standout among Puerto Morelos' finest properties (though expect the price to reflect that).
A beachside boutique hotel with just 30 rooms, the upscale Hotel Jashita is an elegant little piece of paradise. The property sits on a gorgeous, if slightly rocky beach a 20-minute drive north of Tulum with almost nothing nearby; it's peaceful, though rental cars are necessary to explore. Rooms are refined and modern, with details like four-poster beds, spacious terraces, and modern amenities. Sahara restaurant provides a romantic and popular place to dine, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including a poolside grill that's fired up in the evenings. Kayaks and snorkeling gear are available, and there's a beachside pool and kids' pool.
One of the first hotels open in the now-bustling south end of the Hotel Zone, Encantada was built in 2012 by a San Franciscan couple with a true love for the area. Some resorts are divorced from their surroundings, but Encantada's owners are dedicated to preserving and sharing Tulum's local culture through its native Yucatan cuisine, alcohol selection, and small on-site shop with local goods. The eight spacious, eco-friendly guest rooms have no air-conditioning or TVs, but they do have fans and private furnished terraces.
Mi Amor is an intimate, upscale boutique resort on the beach that attracts a primary clientele of vacationing couples. The 17 rooms here have a chic, rustic vibe, and most come with either balconies or private plunge pools. There's also a beach-facing infinity pool as well as a spa and a well-received restaurant serving international cuisine, with a heavy emphasis on French- and Italian-inspired dishes. The hotel is also right on the beach, and while the rocky coastline is beautiful, it's less than ideal for those wanting to swim. Overall, Mi Amor is an excellent option for couples looking for something quiet and romantic, but the intimate vibe is less suited to families.
This nine-room, upper-middle-range boutique property with a rocky beach and elevated cliff views exudes a contemporary style and chic vibe. No children under 16 are allowed. It has a popular margarita happy hour and its restaurant serves a celebrity chef-curated Thai menu. Rooms are air-conditioned (not that common in Tulum's beach Hotel Zone), outfitted in East Asian or bohemian-chic decor, and have mini-fridges or minibars, stocked beach bags, and yoga mats. Master Suites have large porches, luxe Bulgari products, lounge space, and deep (and we mean deep) tubs. This 16-year-old property, which is a three-minute drive north of Tulum's Maya ruins, draws couples seeking a hip spot to sip mixologist cocktails, dip in a rocky lagoon pool, and lounge on the sundeck.
Located in the heart of Tulum's Hotel Zone, Le Zebra is mid-range boutique hotel that has quickly rebounded after an unfortunate fire destroyed some of the property in 2015. This cozy beachfront resort offers 15 suites, some with their own mini plunge pools and others with expansive balconies. All have epic views out over the Mexican Caribbean. Other features include a palapa-covered restaurant and bar featuring hand-painted tables, a small children’s playground, and plenty of beach space, but little else in terms of public spaces or extra features.
The mid-range El Pez at Turtle Cove is ideal for couples and small groups or families looking for a rustic and chill spot along the rocky Tulum coastline. All 19 rooms have cool tile or concrete floors, personal patio space, and come with free breakfast, 24-hour electricity and air-conditioning, organic toiletries, and great ocean views. Thanks to the hotel’s location -- in a semi-restricted area -- guests get a mix of coastline spots from a soft sand beach to elevated grassy banks to a rugged and rocky beachfront. Alas, the water here is choppy and not made for swimming. There’s also an excellent on-site restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, a fantastic bar with tasty cocktails and healthy smoothies, and a small pool.
The 20-room, adult-only Beach Tulum is a popular upper-middle-range option in the heart of the Hotel Zone, and for good reason. Its 20 rooms are right on the beach (you can step out onto the sand from the ground-floor units), the beachfront restaurant, Ziggy's, has great food (and a generous free breakfast with fresh juice and smoothies), and the small size allows for lots of personalized attention from the staff. Charming rooms combine rustic and modern elements, and all have ample outdoor space and ocean views. Property features are impressive for a boutique, and include a pretty, meandering pool, outdoor whirlpool, and daily yoga classes. Free Wi-Fi and parking add to the value, although year-round mosquitos can be an issue.
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.
The Villa Pescadores Tulum consists of 18 bungalows that were once fishermen's huts. The beachfront location is near Tulum's Mayan ruins, and a 15-minute drive from downtown Tulum. There are several restaurants within an easy walk. The bungalows have a rustic-chic style with details including thatched roofs, wood floors, and private bathrooms. All have outdoor spaces with hammocks, and while there are not TVs, Wi-Fi is free and air-conditioning is available at night. The restaurant gets good reviews, and the beach bar also is popular.
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.
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.
Located in the southern end of the Hotel Zone, Cabanas Tulum is an upper-middle-range property with tons of extras making it feel like a steal. The 16 spacious, hip rooms have air-conditioning, safes, attractive open-plan bathrooms, and furnished terraces, but no TVs. Extras include personal yoga mats, outdoor clothes lines, and beach bags. A quiet on-site beach with powdery white sand has loungers and a swing set. Guests can also make use of the small pool, yoga classes, and bike rentals. Or they can head to the off-site restaurant, bar, and beach club where a free breakfast is served.
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 around the corner from La Quinta Avenida, the upper-mid-range Hotel Aventura Mexicana is a landscaped oasis in the middle of a busy pedestrian hot spot. This boutique is suited to couples looking for quiet romance and a convenient location. The 49 rooms are split between two sections, one for adults and one for all ages, though rooms in the latter are overdue for an update. We recommend skipping the five (long) blocks' walk to the beach and opting instead for entry to local beach clubs (the hotel offers free access at Indigo, and discounted access elsewhere). There are also free breakfast, a small spa, full-service restaurant, donation yoga studio, and weekly local market.
Comparatively budget-friendly for the Tulum Hotel Zone, the two-and-a-half pearl, eco-friendly Nueva Vida de Ramiro has 33 rustic rooms and studios set within a natural setting along a long stretch of beach. This family-owned, mostly solar-powered property has been around for two decades, and set the tone for the glut of properties that followed. It has an Argentine restaurant with craft bar, and 24-hour electricity and hot water; some rooms come with air-conditioning, but the hours for it are limited. Slightly bare bones but with a small business center, rental bikes, and a free breakfast, Nueva Vida de Ramiro is one of the better bargains in the area ("bargain" is a relative term here). It has an on-site conservation program, and during turtle season, guests have a good chance of seeing some hatchlings.
Located at the end of a residential road, the eco-friendly, mid-range Posada Yum Kin is ideal for those looking for a break from Tulum's growing tourist center. The hotel's 12 clean, casita-style rooms have free (if temperamental) Wi-Fi, kitchens, garden views, and Mexican tiles galore. Though you won’t find televisions or telephones, there are exotic garden grounds, a small pool, tiny restaurant, and upper-level sundeck and massage areas. Note that the hotel’s locals-only location comes with a hot and sweaty 20-minute walk to Tulum’s main road, so you may want to take advantage of the rental bikes.