“I’m going to Tulum”… This phrase has probably been uttered more this year around the world than the statement “I hate wearing a mask” or “we’re in lockdown again”. It seems to fill both all social conversations and social media feeds alike, penetrating its way into the global consciousness with images of beautiful people frolicking in white sand beaches, emerald-green jungle scapes and ancient Mayan ruins.
Even the word Tulum itself has become something of a social identifier – aligning visitors with a hip, ‘in the know’ way of life fuelled by VSCO Instagram filters, morning guided mediation, Tale of Us soundscapes, Nick Fouquet fedoras, bikinis and psychedelic print Missoni palazzo pants.
Indeed, this once sleepy beachside fishing town in Mexico’s ‘Mayan Riviera’ has risen quickly onto the bucket lists of the world’s trendy elite. And the town is trying to catch up – with an unprecedented rate of new incredible hotels, restaurants and nightclubs sprouting up annually and joining the shamanic huts, yoga bootcamps and spiritual healers that had once made the place a must-visit destination for ageing hippies and outsiders.
Sure, much of the appeal has come from its easy proximity to New York, Miami and LA, allowing American tourists to hop in and out without the extra long-haul commitment of Ibiza or Mykonos but Euros love it too. Tulum’s sense of an uncompromising ‘freeness’ and youthful vibes, combined with its sunshine and pseudo Burning Man style aesthetic (and lack of Covid-19 restrictions) make it an ideal location for those scarred from a summer without their regular party holidays across the continent.
Nevertheless, the rapid expansion of Tulum has meant that it is difficult to know where to stay as new hotel offerings (with a hugely wide variety of styles) seem to crop up on a monthly basis.
To help you navigate this confusing maze, DDW has hand picked the very best places for you to stay this winter season:
What happens when a well-known NY Art Dealer buys Pablo Escobar’s former home on the Mayan Riviera? You get Casa Malca.
Named after gallery owner Lio Malca, this small luxury hotel opened in 2012, making it one of the first to lay the foundations for what is now trendy Tulum. Located on an unspoiled beach on the edge of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, this stylish hotel features elegant rooms, stunning suites, tropical gardens and a world-class art collection that includes works from Keith Haring, KAWS, Marina Abramovic and Marion Peck.
Separate yourself from the pack by checking out the new secret underground swimming pool located underneath the hotel’s main pool…find it and make Pablo proud.
Since its beginning, going off-grid has always been one of the central appeals of Tulum; and there’s no better place to do this than Azulik. This 48 villa hotel promises to ‘align you with the Harmony of the Mayan jungle and Caribbean Sea’ by offering a romantic getaway with no electric light, air-conditioning or television. Each villa is built with traditional methods (wood, palm thatch, stone and reinforced mud) and overlook the beach and the jungle alike.
Along with their exotic accommodation Azulik provides spaces for “innovation and community” where workshops and art projects can take place, as well as areas for “sound and aromatherapy rituals” (here ‘expert healers use native instruments and traditional bowls vibrations, along with essential oils touches, to balance your energy’). However, the star of the show is Kin Toh – its signature avant-garde restaurant where traditional ingredients and recipes are ‘reinterpreted to create unique sensations in every dish’.
A composite of the Sanskrit words for Peace (aman) and Waters (sala) this eco-focused resort is one of Tulum’s most iconic. This hotel refers to its guests as its ‘tribe’ and does its utmost to guide them through an enjoyable experience that covers all their spiritual and physical needs with yoga classes, mediation and healthy food available throughout their stay.
The Amansala uses natural materials and resources to create simple yet beautiful rooms that are reminiscent of a private Yucatan beach house rather than a hotel ensuring guests will feel at home.
Their group classes including the ‘Bikini Body Camp’ are world-famous and attract regulars such as Sienna Miller, Cindy Crawford, Drew Barrymore, Charlize Theron and Linda Evangelista.
Designed by Argentinian architect Sebastian Sas, the Be Tulum is a luxury hotel with the soul of a globetrotting bohemian. Large rooms, suites and private villas (complete with their own pools) are beautifully appointed and nestled in between groves of palm trees by the beach.
As one of Tulum’s most glamorous properties, it is in many ways a market leader that other hotels look up to. Be takes this responsibility seriously and has implemented a sustainability initiative to become 100% sustainable across energy, water and food.
Alongside inviting design and service, the Be sets itself apart from the pack with a super luxurious spa, the Yaan energy spa which offers healing regeneration and deep transformation in a magical and organic setting.
Next door to the Be is another creation of Sebastian Sas, the Nomade. Composed of 35 luxury mini villas that feature designer furniture, private terraces with hammocks and offer total privacy this bohemian retreat is a firm favourite of the fashion and music set.
The Nomade Restaurant is gets busy at night with DJs and Live music and celebrity spotting taking over as the sun goes down.
Hands down one of the most luxurious of all of Tulum’s hotels (and possibly one of Mexico’s finest), the Jashita is the A-list hotel de rigueur. Created by the Milanese hotelier Tommaso Marchiorello it features multiple large suites, private bungalows and a huge penthouse (at $12k a night) with its own swimming pool and private bartender all designed by Monika Pardeller.
Take a swim in the private pool or opt for a beach-side massage after an afternoon snorkel session in the sea. And when you’re ready for bed, enjoy the famous Italian bed linens… what could be better.
Londoner Daniella Hunter opened this hotel alongside her partner Charlie Stuart Gay (Cher’s former manager and Ted speaker) and David Woolfson. Relocating to Tulum with Gay and her family, Hunter created laid back resort and villa focused on healing and wellness.
Barefoot luxury meets Ibiza house-music at this beautiful beachfront resort. Enjoy authentically designed and decorated rooms, rustic cabanas and suites right on the white sand beach, facing crystal blue waters.
Individual features include thatched vaulted ceilings, handmade wood furniture, outdoor showers and private decks with hammocks.
The hotel’s celebrated restaurant, Burner sculptures and bar serves Mexican Caribbean-style food in an eclectic and serene setting which is perfect for a relaxing late night drink. For those less interested in the late night, the resort also offers activities such as yoga and meditation as well as shamanic and drumming circles.
A perfect beach and jungle getaway with beautiful rooms and stunning beachfront views since 2017. Guests enjoy a heated infinity pool that overlooks the jungle on one end and Caribbean ocean on the other.
The hotel offers beds directly on the beach for lounging in the day or star gazing at night. All rooms have hand made furniture by local artisans and jungle bungalows also include open-air showers, and terraces with jungle views.
Also opened three years ago is this boutique hotel is located on a pristine stretch of beach and boasts 31 designer villas and suites. With a focus on amenities and guest experience the Azul caters to those looking to relax as well as those looking to party.
The rooftop infinity pool ‘Grand Opening’ is the central focus for those looking to meet fellow guests or share a perfectly made margarita.
On the beach but also just 7 km (4 miles) from the famous Mayan Ruins, The Beach is perfect beach chic goodness. It is no wonder that this is one of the ‘Tulum set’s’ favourite haunts with its luxurious beach front rooms, villas, spa, shop and two restaurants.
Ziggy’s Beach Club serves drinks and snacks from 09:00 until sunset whilst Fresco’s has earned a reputation for delicious tacos and punchy margaritas (made with local hibiscus for an added kick). As a plus – unlike many of Tulum’s hotels that are notorious for charging for extras, The Beach provides complimentary morning yoga classes and bikes. In addition there is a comfortable swimming pool, two snooker tables and live music every night of the week.
And if after enjoying your time in Tulum you want to escape the oncoming crowds of cool kids and late night parties across the strip go check out the next happening hot spot…Bacalar. A hidden spot two hours south on an inland lake known as the Lagoon of Seven Colours due to its varying shades of blue water…