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About Riviera Maya
The Mayan Riviera is the area on the Eastern side of the Yucatán Peninsula, including party-central Cancún, dive centre Cozumel and the ancient ruins surrounding Tulum, the most famous of which is Chichén Itzá. Generally the best places to stay on the Riviera Maya for colourful nightlife are in Cancún. Tulum is more laid back and Playa del Carmen is more sophisticated - ideal if you prefer boutique hotels.
The lush jungles of the Mayan Riviera hide many treasures, but while some visit for the ancient Mayan temples, some folks are drawn to the perfect Caribbean coastline that the jungles fringe.
What not to Miss
- Wonderfully ancient and astronomically correct, Chichén Itzá will be top of many lists, but it's worth popping into the colonial town of Valladolid on your way.
- About 90kms east of Chichén Itzá is the Pre-Columbian city of Coba - once home to 50,000 people.
- You probably also want to visit Tulum. Perched on a cliff, overlooking pristine beaches and an aquamarine sea, the ruins here make even the most banal holiday snaps beautiful.
- Divers and snorkellers will definitely want to visit Cozumel. Between this island and the mainland are the spectacular coral gardens of the Palancar Reef and the Great Mayan Reef. As well as being beautiful the reefs are a magnet for marine life. There are amazing sights to see both for novice divers and snorkelers and for more experienced divers. Right across from Cozumel, Playa del Carmen is definitely one of the best places to stay on the Riviera Maya for divers and snorkelers.
- On the Riviera Maya it's always cerveza time, but in the evenings the places to be are Coco Bongo and Dady'O in the Zona Hotelera. Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen's main pedestrian corridor is the place to see and be seen. By evening its boutiques and uber chic lounges are where the party starts but after midnight Playa's fun moves to the beachfront discos.
Our selection of the best places to stay in the Riviera Maya cater for all. From boutique chic in the heart of Playa del Carmen to hidden gems on the Isla Mujeres.
For a special occasion
- Basico is a once in a lifetime hotel for a once in a lifetime holiday. The design is inventive, witty and modern. The seafood restaurant, laid out like a marketplace, is excellent.
- The Hotel Secreto on the Isla Mujeres, just off the coast of Cancún is a luxurious 12 room boutique hotel in an extremely private spot overlooking its own private beach. The rooms have floor to ceiling windows overlooking the infinity pool and the beach, and original art works. Apparently the bar serves dangerously good Margaritas.
- Maroma is luxurious, secluded and beautiful, perfect for honeymooners. The nearby beaches are some of region's most beautiful and the massive range of activities and treatments means you don't have to leave.
- Casa de Las Olas is a seven suite boutique deco-hotel on its own private beach. Rooms are traditional and decorated in white and the atmosphere is one of intimacy and peace. No children under five.
- Jashita is a luxurious beach-side property overlooking Tulum’s glittering turquoise waters. There are 26 indulgent suites decorated all in white plus spectacular views and and excellent Italian/ Mexican fusion restaurant.
For a Beach Break
- There are plenty of hotels right on the sand in Tulum, but Ana Y Jose Hotel is in a great spot even by Tulum’s standards, close to one of the best sea swimming spots along this stretch of coast. There are 23 rooms and an exotic spa to top it off.
- Tulum’s The Beach also demands to be included in this section of the list, but it’s deserving, with 28 boho-chic, white-on-white rooms and lovely views just steps from a secluded stretch of white sandy beach.
- The Thompson Playa del Carmen is a chic beach property with 120 contemporary, minimalist rooms with large terraces and epic views. Their Mexican restaurant is right by the beach, there’s also a hip rooftop bar serving memorable cocktails.
- Playa del Carmen’s Viceroy Riviera Maya is a a stunning collection of 41 rooms and villas surrounded by tropical forest and white sand. The restaurant specialises in exceptional seafood and there’s a fantastic Mayan spa. Great if you want to relax on the beach or try every watersport under the sun.
- The Nizuc Resort & Spa has a beachfront spot on the Punta Nizuc, which is just out of Cancún proper, and offers panoramic views of the Caribbean. This is a big hotel - with 274 rooms and suites - with chic, contemporary decor, a luxurious spa and a choice of six onsite restaurants.
- Casa Ticul in central Playa del Carmen is a favourite of the diving contingent.
- Just outside Tulum, in a beautiful beachfront spot, Sanara is a low-key hotel with 19 rooms and suites and a great spa. There’s also a superb restaurant perfect for after your post-sunset-beach-stroll.
- Mezzanine is a nine room, eco-friendly resort beside a secluded beach. There are tropical gardens and breathtaking sea views, plus plenty of activities on offer.
For Barefoot Luxury
- If you like the idea of a small property right on the beach then Encantada Tulum is a for you. There are just eight rooms and you’re set directly against a pristine stretch of white sand. The large terraces have incredible sea views and inside the decor is simple and chic with plenty of wood.
- The Papaya Playa Project is a collection of 73 sustainable boho-chic rooms and cabanas on a secluded stretch of white sandy beach. The decor is hip and Mayan, while the beach club is hip and Mexican.
- Nomade Tulum is a 38 room hotel in a stunning, beachfront spot. The accommodation is in a range of rustic tents, villas and suites and there’s a retreat feel to the place and a great vegetarian restaurant.
- Tides Riviera Maya is a complex of private villas on the beach and surrounded by forest. It has outdoor showers and private pools to help you make the most of the location and many of their spa treatments draw from Mayan traditions: a cultural pampering.
- Hotel Secreto is a modern white cubist building with stylish, but bare interiors - think limestone floors and huge mirrors inside and daybeds and an infinity pool outside. Situated on the Isla Mujeres, this hidden gem is easily one of the best places to stay in the Riviera Maya if you want to avoid the crowds.
- Kin Sol Soleil, just up the road from Play del Carmen in Puerto Morelos, is a tranquil property right against a white, sandy beach. There are just ten rooms with a Mexican feel, contemporary art and antique furniture, There’s also a stunning pool.
- Hidden within the jungle, Be Tulum is a collection of 20 atmospheric suites with rustic chic decor and free-standing baths. The romantic restaurant blends Mediterranean and Mexican flavours and there’s a pool and spa as well as the beach right on your doorstep.
- La Zebra is a 16 room boutique style hotel on a quiet stretch of beach. The decor is contemporary with plenty of natural light. There’s a great seafood restaurant and a lively tequila bar if you need a bit of a kick.
- Deseo, in the centre of Playa del Carmen, caters perfectly to the young, cosmopolitan crowd, with a stylish rooftop pool and terrace bar, plus hammocks on all private balconies. It's also just two blocks from the sea.
- Soho Playa is in just the right district of Play del Carmen, surrounded by cool bars, good shopping and a hip vibe - all just a few steps from the beach. They help you get into the right frame of mind with yoga and meditation in the mornings.
- Also in Playa del Carmen, Be Playa is a chic boutique property with contemporary rooms with wood floors, hot tubs and excellent views. There’s a rooftop pool, a hip bar and a creative seafood restaurant.
- Casa Malaca is a trendy private-beach-side hotel with 40 rooms and suites, three pools and a lively bar. The decor is white one white and contemporary fabulous.
For Great Value
- Casa Ticul is a relatively new adult's only 20 bedroom boutique hotel in Playa del Carmen with traditional decor but all the mod. cons.. There's a small outdoor pool and you're well located for exploring town and the beach. Rooms start from less than £50 per night.
- Some of the Hotel La Semilla's nine rooms start from less than £70 per night, but this is a more stripped-back and fashionable Playa del Carmen property with well chosen flea-market furniture and no TVs.
- The Zamas Hotel is a laid-back 20 room property on one of Tulum’s most beautiful stretches of beach. The decor is rustic chic with wooden furniture in sort-of-tile-floored-huts. There’s also a private villa for families and the restaurant has great traditional Mayan fare. Rooms start from around £90 per night.
- For around £100 per night you can stay at the Hotel Tiki Tiki, a 15 room boutique hotel in suite, leafy surrounds. The decor features plenty of glass and minimalist design.
For an Apartment or Villa
If you’d prefer to stay in an apartment or private villa we recommend you visit our online partner booking.com.
- Cancún Airport is the second largest in Mexico and the region’s hub. From there you can reach most destinations via the highway skirting the coastline. Many hotels will offer transfers, or you can rent a car.
- If you want to hire a car we recommend you visit our online partner Rentalcars.
- The most popular time to vis the Riviera Maya is between December and March when the days are warm and sunny. Like the Caribbean, the Riviera Maya is hot and wet between June and October - and it’s hurricane season between June and November. Hurricanes are rare here, and there are great hotel deals to be found during this period, but you’ll definitely want to buy travel insurance.