Casa Pueblo Tulum
Industrial Chic, $ ($70)
Poor Tulum is having a rough go of it lately. The favorite winter destination of hipsters worldwide has in recent years been plagued by rampant and tacky overdevelopment, stinky algae infesting its waters and beaches, and an obnoxious feather-and-fringe-clad festival-goer crowd more interested in crafting the perfect Instagram photo than, well, anything else, really. Which is a shame, because Mexico's Riviera Maya deserves better. The jungle-meets-sea setting is striking, the sea and the beaches are beautiful, the Mayan ruins are compelling, and the underground rivers and cenotes make for excellent outdoor adventures. And Tulum should be allowed to be the spiritual, healthy, live-and-let-live, sleep-in-a-palapa-under-the-stars, down-dogging, boho haven it wants to be. Poseurs be damned.
Breathing new life into the Tulum hospitality scene is Casa Pueblo Tulum, the latest from co-owner Derek Klein, the original founder of the popular Tulum restaurant and bar Gitano. Located two miles from the beach in Tulum town, the hotel is a contemporary urban take on a traditional hacienda and a study in contrasts. It's located on the busy (and not very attractive) main street, but a feeling of calm fills the space. The look is industrial and minimalist — all straight lines and polished stone finishes — but the vibe is warmed by in-room textiles, jungle plants, and a light-filled atrium at the center of the hotel. The globe-trotting crowd is hip, but you get the feeling they're closing big deals on their laptops by the pool. If beachfront real estate is not a priority (or in the budget), but hanging with the cool kids in a small, clubhouse-feeling hotel is, Casa Pueblo Tulum is a great base for exploring the area. And it may be a harbinger of what's to come, as plans are underway for more Casa Pueblo outposts, including Casa Pueblo Boca Paila on the beach.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Industrial calm.
Standout Detail: The atrium at the center of the hotel — the black-and-white-checked floor, the elegant tree shooting up to the third floor.
This Place Is Perfect For: Hipsters with more style than money. Beachgoers who hate sand in their toes.
Rooms: Sixteen rooms (ten king and six suites) are arranged on two floors around the atrium. The decor is sleek and minimalist, in shades of whites and creams punctuated by dark wood accents in the bed and furniture. Bathrooms have walk-in rain showers and locally made Loredana toiletries.
On Site: The small pool near the entrance is lined with loungers and flanked by a plant-filled garden area with communal picnic table. The quieter scene is the garden area at the back of the hotel. This is a small, urban hotel. No gym, no big lobby for hanging out. There's little waste in general, as the hotel only uses biodegradable products and is 99 percent plastic-free.
Food + Drink: Lovely's, the open-kitchen restaurant at the center of the hotel, serves healthy, comfort food with lots of vegan options: wood-fired pizzas, salads, and ceviches.
What to Do Nearby
The beach, of course. Mayan ruins are nearby (go early to avoid the crowds), as is Sian Ka'an nature reserve. The area is filled with cenotes (naturally formed swimming holes), but if you want a guide, contact 4 Worlds Expeditions to take you to Kantun-Chí eco park, where the underground river is a very cool bonus. Hartwood and Mur Mur are the restaurants to hit along Tulum beach.