Staying in the Mexican Caribbean’s downtown scenes is the opposite of what you would experience in any other metropolitan city in the world. Out are the skyscrapers and traffic-clogged streets. In are pedestrian-friendly streets, pulsing bars, local boutiques, and artisan-filled markets. Downtown hotels are a great option for travelers who are interested in experiencing the local culture and truly getting to know each destination’s unique personality. The beauty of staying downtown is that the moment you leave the lobby, everything you need is sitting right outside your hotel doors.
For a stay that’s on the livelier side, opt for a hotel in Downtown Cancun where you have your pick of nightlife. Cancun is one of Mexico’s largest resort areas, welcoming nearly 25 million visitors annually, and has attracted tourists to its photo-worthy beaches and nearby archeological sites like Tulum since the 1970s. To live how the locals do, downtown is the place to stay. Just a ten-minute car ride from the city’s Hotel Zone, Cancun´s downtown offers local flavor with a more budget-friendly vibe. Here you can enjoy all the restaurants, bars, flea markets the city has to offer.
Tulum’s downtown hotels are located in the area known as “El Pueblo” and offer something a bit different than those in the hotel zone. In “El Pueblo,'' travelers will find a mix of mid-range and affordable hotels amongst a variety of authentic Mexican restaurants, local shops, and smoothie shacks for a morning power-up.
South of the Mexican Caribbean is Chetumal, where many downtown hotels reside just a short walk from Boulevard Bahía, where you will find different monuments and sculptures that you won’t want to miss.
Here, visitors can also find all kinds of food stands, where you can try some of the local food. A local favorite are “marquesitas” (a crispy crepe rolled up filled with melted shredded cheese and a sweet filling of your choice).
Off the Beaten Path
Once a tiny fishing town, Downtown Playa del Carmen offers visitors some of the same attractions as Cancun but hasn’t lost its village vibes. Throw on a pair of flip-flops and stroll by the shops and galleries along Fifth Avenue, where you’ll find restaurants helmed by some of Mexico’s top chefs. In fact, downtown hotels feature some of the best eateries in the area—another perk of booking a room here.
While there are a few all-inclusive options, hotels are on the smaller side (think 50 rooms or less) and range from boutique hotels with incredible rooftops to sumptuous suites overlooking the sea.
Couples, solo travelers, and groups of friends who prefer something on the more rustic, serene, and peaceful should look into destinations like Puerto Morelos, where you will find plenty of wonderful dining options, cafés, beach clubs, souvenir shops, and the main square within a walking distance. The 26-mile-long, car-free island of Holbox has an even more castaway feel and is one of the few places on the globe where you can swim alongside whale sharks. Holbox is located within a Nature Reserve, so its hotels keep that small island feel, with just a few rooms and an intriguingly stylized design.
No matter which downtown scene you prefer, the Mexican Caribbean is waiting for you.