Located just an hour south of Playa del Carmen, Tulum is a trendy Caribbean hotspot with a beachy bohemian vibe. Its beaches are some of the most beautiful and widespread you will find on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, making it the perfect place for a tropical beach getaway. While living in Playa del Carmen, I loved taking day and overnight trips to Tulum and getting to explore its seemingly endless beach clubs and trendy beachfront hotels. Read on to discover all the best places to stay in Tulum.
Where is Tulum?
Tulum is located on Mexico’s Caribbean coast in the state of Quintana Roo and about 2 hours south of Cancun, and 1 hour south of Playa del Carmen. The closest international airport is Cancun International. To get to Tulum from the Cancun airport, you can arrange a private or shared transfer, take a taxi, or take the ADO Airport bus.
Why visit Tulum?
The Mexican beach town of Tulum first emerged as an untouched Caribbean paradise offering an escape from the crowds in more touristy destinations such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen. With its widespread tropical beaches, a visit to Tulum is considered one of the best things to do in Mexico.
In recent years, tourism has grown which has resulted in an excess of trendy hotels, restaurants, and boutiques, all designed with Tulum’s distinct design aesthetic. This includes earthy exteriors, thatched roofs, and natural bohemian elements all with an emphasis on eco-friendly design.
The first time I visited Tulum I was really impressed by the trendy design. It was cool, different, and I was intrigued by its chic bohemian vibe. But after a few visits it can start to seem just a little bit inauthentic. But I definitely don’t hate Tulum and that has never stopped me from enjoying all the good things the town does have to offer including its superior beaches, open air restaurants, designer boutiques, Mayan Ruins, unique excursions, and incredible cenotes.
You may have also heard that Tulum has also gotten a bit of a reputation for attracting party-goers and spiritual seekers. While these types of experiences can definitely be found in Tulum, I do believe Tulum is still worth visiting and has much to offer. Your experience in Tulum is exactly what you make it, and these types of experiences can be enjoyed or avoided depending on what you’re looking for.
About Tulum Hotels
Know before you go: These are a few important things to know before booking your hotel in Tulum.
The majority of hotels in Tulum Mexico are smaller boutique design hotels and you won’t find many large hotel chains. As a result, the nightly rates for these boutique hotels are generally much higher than the nearby hotels in the Riviera Maya. For example, Tulum luxury hotels on the beach may cost $500 to over $1,000 USD per night.
In addition, there are also few all-inclusive hotels in Tulum so you will need to pay for all of your meals at the hotel or nearby restaurants. If you are on a budget, you can definitely still enjoy Tulum, but you might want to consider staying further away from the beach or choosing a vacation rental where you can prepare your own meals.
It’s also important to know that the main focus of Tulum Mexico hotels is on sustainability and being eco-friendly. This often translates into rustic jungle accommodations including treehouses, bungalows, and luxury glamping that may be a different experience than a typical hotel or resort. It’s not uncommon for hotels in Tulum to have outdoor showers, communal bathrooms, mosquito netting, and limited technology like air conditioning, TVs, and wifi.
These types of accommodations fit into the minimalist Tulum design aesthetic and the idea is that your stay is a true retreat and has as little impact on the environment as possible. This can definitely be an adjustment but essentially what you are paying for is a vacation experience that is an escape from the reality of everyday life.
When booking your hotel in Tulum, I would definitely recommend checking the hotel amenities carefully so you can be fully aware of what is offered. For example, some room types may have a communal bathroom and you may need to upgrade if you prefer a more private accommodation in Tulum. You’ll also want to check for air conditioning and wifi. Not all hotels in Tulum are that primitive but it’s just something to be aware of.
Tulum Hotel Locations
There are basically just two main areas where the majority of hotels and resorts in Tulum Mexico are located. The most popular is called the Hotel Zone (or “Zona Hotelera” in Spanish), which is a long stretch of trendy beachfront hotels in Tulum Mexico.
The other area is Downtown Tulum (“Tulum Pueblo” in Spanish), which is located about 3 miles from the beach and closer to restaurants, bars, shopping, and grocery stores.
It’s no surprise that the hotels located in the Hotel Zone will be considerably more expensive. However, I would definitely recommend staying in this area if you can. Even though the downtown area is just a few miles from the beach, it can be a hassle to commute down the narrow road to the beach, where you can often get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and can take 20-30 minutes to get to your destination.
Another benefit of staying in the Hotel Zone is having unrestricted access to some of the best beaches in Tulum. There are not many public beaches in Tulum, which can make it challenging to access the beaches unless you are staying at one of the hotels or visiting one of the beach clubs in Tulum.
Best Places to Stay in Tulum Mexico
These are my top Tulum hotel recommendations for the Hotel Zone, Downtown Tulum, as well as a few Tulum vacation rentals.
Best Hotels in Tulum Beach Hotel Zone
In my opinion, the Hotel Zone is the best area to stay in Tulum and where you want to be to have unrestricted beach access including beach beds exclusively reserved for hotel guests. Hotels directly on the beach will be more expensive but if you’re looking to save money, you might also consider hotels just on the other side of the beach road. Below are my recommendations for the best places to stay in the Tulum Hotel Zone:
Papaya Playa Project
Papaya Playa Project was the first hotel I ever visited in Tulum and it is still considered one of the best beach hotels in Tulum. It’s your quintessential Tulum hotel with casitas, villas, and cabanas that blend right into the jungle.
With over 70 rooms, the hotel offers a “barefoot luxury” experience featuring accommodations with ocean views and private pools. For the ultimate luxury experience, you can also reserve one of the 4-bedroom private homes or “casas” that have private pools and al fresco dining areas.
During your stay, the hotel also offers weekly wellness programs such as yoga, meditative concerts, ecstatic movement, and curated menus. Papaya Playa Project is also known for its full moon parties, which attracts crowds for a late night beach party experience.
Travelista Tip: Papaya Playa Project is also where some seasons of Bachelor in Paradise were filmed.CHECK RATES
Habitas Tulum is a luxury beachfront hotel in Tulum with jungle, pool, and ocean accommodations all designed to coexist with nature and is considered one of the top hotels in Tulum. The rooms also feature private outdoor terraces with jungle and ocean views, as well as outdoor rain showers. Other amenities include a seafood restaurant, a beach bar, and a spa.
The hotel also offers many Mayan-inspired wellness experiences such as spa treatments, yoga classes, Mayan clay ceremonies, and breathwork practices. They also offer a unique Quetzal Sound Sensorama, which is a sensory therapy featuring a cacao ceremony, sound meditation, and aromatherapy.CHECK RATES
Overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Be Tulum is an airy, exotic boutique hotel offering minimalist, eco-chic suites. The rooms feature furnished terraces, and upgraded suites have sea views and private pools.
There are three restaurants at the hotel, including the Maresias beachfront eatery, an acclaimed restaurant called Ocumare, and a rustic beach bar. Other amenities include an outdoor pool and private beach access, as well as a spa offering yoga and meditation.CHECK RATES
Travelista Tip: Be Tulum is the sister property to the Be Playa hotel in Playa del Carmen.
Surrounded by the jungle, Ahau Tulum is an upscale beachfront resort that is home to the famous “Ven a la Luz” art installation. Offering sea or jungle views, the rustic-chic cabanas and huts have thatched vaulted ceilings, handmade wood furniture, outdoor showers, mosquito nets, and private decks with hammocks.
The resort also offers a beachfront restaurant with open-air dining, and activities such as yoga and meditation. You’ll also find Raw Love on the property, which is a popular beachfront juice bar for smoothies, acai bowls, and healthy meals.CHECK RATES
Set among tropical palms on Tulum Beach, Kanan Tulum is a rustic-chic, adults-only hotel that is a sister property to Ahau Tulum. Featuring earthy decor and ocean or jungle views, the airy rooms offer minibars, ceiling fans, and free-standing wooden tubs.
Onsite you’ll also find a trendy restaurant with beach views, plus an outdoor pool with a swim up bar and a sundeck. The hotel also offers massages, yoga classes and bicycle rentals.CHECK RATES
Azucar Hotel is a beachfront Tulum hotel that is more budget friendly and has a great location close to many restaurants and shops. I visited Azucar Hotel Tulum with some friends and the beach area at the hotel is widespread and absolutely stunning. With only 9 beachfront rooms and cabanas, it’s a small boutique property offering simplistic Mexican design.CHECK RATES
Best Hotels in Tulum Downtown
Below are my recommendations for the best hotels in Tulum Mexico downtown area (Tulum Pueblo). Staying in the downtown area is much more affordable and puts you within walking distance to bars, restaurants, and grocery stores but further from the beach.
To get to the beach, you can take a taxi or a colectivo (shared van). Many of these best Tulum hotels also offer complimentary loaner bikes, which are a fun way to get to the beaches, restaurants, and shops in the Hotel Zone.
Located in downtown Tulum, Hotel Bardo is a new adults only hotel that offers 30 loft-style villa accommodations with private plunge pools, dining areas, and pillowtop beds. The hotel also features a restaurant, outdoor pool, and full service spa offering deep tissue and hot stone massages.CHECK RATES
Una Vida Tulum
Una Vida Tulum is an upscale, rustic-chic hotel conveniently located near the heart of Tulum Pueblo. The hotel offers stylish villas with furnished balconies and terraces and some with outdoor showers. Airy upgraded units feature kitchenettes and living areas.
On the hotel grounds you’ll find two restaurants, two resort style pools, a palapa bar, yoga shala, fire pit, tezmazcal, and sound healing. Yoga classes and massage services are also available, as well as craft cocktails mixed by private mixologists.CHECK RATES
Located in a whitewashed, cube-shaped building just outside of Tulum Pueblo, Turquoise Petit is a chic bed and breakfast offering stylish, colorful rooms. Some accommodations also feature terraces and outdoor bathtubs.
With only 16 suites, it’s a small boutique property with 2 outdoor pools and an intimate common area. In addition, the hotel offers complimentary breakfast and loaner bicycles.CHECK RATES
Best Tulum Vacation Rentals
Another option for accommodations in Tulum is staying at a vacation rental. There are a lot of options for every budget and these are a good choice if you want a little more space and not having to eat out for every meal.
Vacation Rentals by Owner
Depending on the size of your group, I would also recommend checking out a vacation rental such as VRBO. There are many vacation rentals in Tulum and if you have a larger group size, it might be more affordable to rent a house or condo and split the nightly cost. Plus, that gives you a little more privacy (especially if there is a private pool) as well as kitchens to cook meals in. Here are a few recommended VRBOs in Tulum:
- Tulum`s Best Location in Town..!! 2 or 3 Guests
- Beachfront Luxury Home; Heart of REAL Tulum
- Casa Mandala w/Pool ~ Mahayana – Bright Vacation Rental on Tulum Beach with Pool + AC
- Villa Amore &Spa – cozzy villa with pool & chef incl. 10PPL 4BR
Aldea Zama is a residential community located in between downtown Tulum and the beach. It’s an up and coming area with many new buildings in development. Aldea Zama is a great place for long term rentals in Tulum but you should just be mindful of construction noise before booking as many new buildings are currently under construction.CHECK RATES ON VRBO
I hope this Tulum best hotels guide was helpful if you’re trying to figure out where to stay in Tulum! Tulum is such a magical place and definitely worth a visit if you want a truly unique beach vacation experience. I hope you have the chance to stay at one of the best hotels Tulum has to offer. You won’t regret it!
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