Tu-lum or Not Tu-lum, That is the Question: City Guide to Tulum, Mexico

March 30, 2012

Our answer: Tulum! But there is a caveat – bring an a/c unit, a television & sunscreen. You know…all the usual items you pack for a vacation in Mexico. We just returned from Tulum, &, if you remember one thing after reading our Tulum City Guide, remember how amazing it is when you’re sitting on the porch of your beachfront villa looking up & can actually see almost every single constellation in the sky. Words cannot express…

Let’s start with the basics: where is this “Tulum” we speak of? Tulum is approximately an 1.5 hour drive from Cancun Airport (follow the speed limit(s), trust us). The road is a highway & very well-marked, so just keep driving until you reach Tulum (past Mayakoba, past Playa del Carmen). You’ll know when you are there. Once you reach the town you’ll continue on a one-lane road (in each direction) to the beach, where you will find a kilometer stretch of wealthy-hippie havens – beachfront, boutique hotels that practice what they preach: eco-friendlyism & yoga retreats.

What might strike you as a backpacker’s town is actually an escape for Europeans, environmentally conscious people & those who just want to streamline their lives for a few days. Plan on walking around through the town, dining at outdoor restaurants covered only by bistro lights strung from one tree to the next (with chalk-written menus & barefoot servers), & spending lots of time in a hammock on the beach. We’d say you could also spend a lot of time in your villa, but most hotels in Tulum don’t have air conditioning (with the exception of Be Tulum – one of our favorite Tulum hotels – & Ana y Jose Charming Hotel & Spa). So if you’re planning on braving the Mexican sun during the summer, remember, you won’t be dodging into your thatched cabana to relieve yourself from the heat.

In line with the lack of air conditioning, most hotels don’t have televisions either. So make sure to download about a billion movies onto your iPad before entering Tulum. Despite having no TV’s, the hotels all have showers (in some form or another) & provide a roof over your head. They are also good for baby-making given the lack of other activities to do. Oops, almost forgot – you can spend a day going to the nearby Mayan ruins that are perched on a cliff overlooking the beach. The beach – soft, white sand that never gets hot (won’t burn the bottom of your feet) & seems to go on for miles.

Just because there’s no a/c or TV, doesn’t mean there aren’t luxury accommodations. We use the word “luxury” loosely, though. There are day spas, yoga studios, restaurants with fresh ingredients & daily changing menus, solar panels, private jacuzzis & plunge pools, daybeds & cabanas on the beach, porch hammocks, private beachfront villas & more in Tulum. But…no a/c or TV. Okay, we will stop harping on that & get on with the good stuff. Just want you to know what you’re in for.

Here are the top 4 hotels in Tulum, Mexico that we recommend (in alphabetical order, because we are organized like that):

1. AHAU TULUM: This 26-villa, beachfront propety currently has 16 villas available (10 more on the way!). Villas have hot water served by solar panels & are entered into from the beach. The restaurant on property uses local ingredients to serve up Latin American bites. Above the restaurant is Ahau’s yoga studio (pictured below with restaurant) which overlooks the beach. If we have to do yoga, this would be the way to do it. You can also get a private yoga session or massage on the deck of your villa. To learn more about Ahau Tulum click here or email us.

Ahau Tulum Restaurant and Yoga Studio

2. ANA Y JOSE CHARMING HOTEL & SPA: One of the hotels you come across first upon entering the beach area of Tulum is Ana y Jose.  Clearly the most “commercial” hotel in Tulum (mostly because it seems to be the largest), Ana y Jose still has the characteristics that people seek from the area. The lobby/check-in desk is across the street from the beach (pictured below) with a cute gift shop & shelves of books (you’ll have plenty of time to read here). Once you cross the street to go to your suite, you’ll have one of 24 rooms (with a/c!!!!!) or you can reserve the beachfront house with 3 bedrooms. All prices include breakfast (like we said, “luxury”). Ana y Jose also has a restaurant on the property (make reservations) & daybeds along the pool that look ideal for hours of lounging.  To learn more about Ana y Jose click here or email us.

Ana y Jose Chaming Hotel Tulum Mexico

3. BE TULUM:  Perhaps the most charming of the 4 hotels in this list, Be Tulum (a Design Hotel) is also the furthest south. Suites at Be Tulum are either on the first floor or the second floor of individual villas, & there are only 20 suites in total. The suites on the first floor have a private pool with a hammock (some beachfront), & the suites on the second floor have a jacuzzi on the terrace. This exclusive hideaway has a great, laid-back vibe upon arrival which continues through the property via a sand & wood block path & onto the beach, where you’ll find a fire pit & plenty of daybeds, cabanas & beach loungers to relax the day away on. The girl at the front desk couldn’t have been more welcoming & same goes for the barefoot server at the small restaurant below the chic, beach bar/lounge. With only 20 suites at the hotel, it’s no wonder they are reserved for adults (sorry, no kids under 14 allowed). To learn more about Be Tulum click here or email us.

Be Tulum

4. COQUI COQUI TULUM: This Mr. & Mrs. Smith boutique (reallllly boutique) hotel is teenie-tiny with 7 rooms, including 3 suites. Although only some of the rooms are beachfront, you’ll trek through the sand to get to the entrance to the hotel. Once you arrive in the lobby (pictured below), it’s like stumbling upon an oasis of perfumes, candles & hammocks. Not sure if your idea of an oasis is the same… Coqui Coqui Perfumes are everywhere in the lobby & are provided to guests in their rooms, along with a beach bag. There’s no bar or room service, but there is Coqui Coqui Cafeteria, which serves up fresh Mexican food. This eco-friendly hotel is proud of it’s no a/c/TV policy & use of water purifiers, solar energy & natural light to keep the place going. We’re proud of you too! (Except we think the showers might spout seawater…)

Coqui Coqui Tulum

For more photos of these hotels & Tulum itself, peruse our Tulum album on our Facebook page (feel free to “Like” us & the album while you’re there). Tulum is filled with charming cabanas, beachfront villas & chalk (seems to be the preferred writing utensil). It’s absolutely a unique place to get away to, & you will surely learn to appreciate the finer things in life, like a/c (in case we haven’t mentioned it enough), once you return well-read & well-rested.

Any interest in Tulum? That is the question.  Please email us to book your Tulum retreat today or call us at 305.931.3002. Mark our words, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Tulum in the future.

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House of Travel • 17813 Biscayne Blvd Aventura, FL 33160 • (305) 931-3002