Made up of just three villas, Aldea Canzul lets you experience Tulum on your own terms – without sacrificing the stellar service you’d expect from a larger hotel. Nestled between rustling palms on Tulum’s sugar-white beach, each villa is a showcase of Mexican artistry, filled with hand-carved furniture, woven lamps and rustic artwork, all of it made by artisans on the Yucatán peninsula. Eye-candy aside, they’re also peaceful, private and kitted out with everything a family could need: spacious living areas, full-sized kitchens and sun decks with barbecues. You needn't lift a finger, however, thanks to the on-site concierge team, who can arrange everything from private chefs to dives in underwater caverns.
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One-way airport transfers (your choice of pick-up or drop-off)
Three standalone villas, with four, three and two bedrooms respectively.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £1122.85 ($1,561), including tax at 19 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of $2.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates include breakfast which is prepared by a chef in your villa. You'll make your selections the day before – eggs, chilaquiles or pancakes. The rates for other chef-prepared meals are UDS$40 a person for lunch and US$50 a person for dinner.
19 December to 15 January.
At the hotel
Private beach, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: kitchen with a full-size fridge, hob, oven and microwave; Nespresso coffee machine; air-conditioning; free bottled water; Lolita Lolita bath products.
Our favourite rooms
With each villa sleeping a different number of guests, the size of your party will probably be the deciding factor. That aside, we’ve got a soft spot for Casa Chakté – particularly its oval-shaped master bedroom, which has a steep pitched ceiling, Moroccan-style living area and a private terrace with Caribbean views.
Casa Chukum has a private pool in its back garden. If you’re in one of the other villas, take solace in the fact that the Caribbean is steps from your door.
If you’re going to explore Tulum’s cenotes, bring a pair of shoes that can get wet – your feet will thank you when it comes to scrambling over underwater rocks.
With sandy grounds and stairs to contend with, the villas aren't suitable for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome at the hotel, and the villas – particularly Casa Chukum and Chakté – have plenty of room for families. There aren’t any specific facilities for children, but babysitting can be arranged through the concierge.
Think West Coast via India, with a dash of Kahloesque colour thrown in.
There’s no restaurant at the hotel, so you’ll need to eat out unless you’ve booked a private chef. Many of the best spots in town are an easy walk or cycle away, and the staff are only too happy to make reservations on your behalf.
Aldea Canzul is nestled amid the palms on Tulum’s beachfront.
If you’re coming from outside Mexico, you’ll probably touch down in Cancun, which can be reached directly from most European hubs and many US airports. The drive to the hotel takes 90 minutes; one-way private transfers are available for US$180. If you’d like to take the sting out of booking flights and transfers yourself, call our Smith24 team, who can arrange both for you.
You won’t need a car if you’re planning to stay in town – Tulum and its beaches are easily explored on foot or by bike, and there are plenty cabs should you need them. A set of wheels will come in handy if you want to go day tripping to nearby towns and more distant cenotes; if you’d like to hire, give the Smith24 team a call. There’s valet parking at the hotel, too.
Worth getting out of bed for
With only three villas on the grounds, most people come for the peace and privacy, which you’ll get in spades. There’s no spa or communal pool, but the concierge team can arrange private yoga classes and spa treatments in the comfort of your villa, including Mayan clay massages and reflexology sessions. Down on the beach, you can take a kitesurfing lesson, paddleboard to quiet lagoons or get your PADI diving qualification. Further afield in Tulum National Park, you can dive or swim in cenotes – natural, water-filled sinkholes created when the limestone bedrock collapses. Some are open air and easy to get to, essentially freshwater pools ringed by lush vegetation. Others are hidden under the earth in spectacular caverns, offering more of a challenge. For the best experience, book in with Diving Cenotes Tulum, who can organise trips for all abilities. White-sand beaches and the Caribbean climate aside, it’s Tulum’s 13th-century Maya ruins that put it on the map. Built as a port city for trading jade and turquoise, Tulum’s clifftop location and thick perimeter walls make it a bit of architectural anomaly among Maya settlements.
For a healthy start, hit beach shack Matcha Mama Tulum, which serves all things matcha, superfood smoothies and açai berry breakfast bowls. After something more substantial? The beachfront restaurant at Villa Las Estrellas makes a fine brunch spot. Keep it classic with eggs, bacon and avocado toast, or try the fritto misto (a platter of delicious deep-fried seafood). Ringed by thick jungle, Arca cuts a modish figure with its grid-like pavilion roof, concrete bar and tables carved from polished slabs of timber. After dark, the bulbs hanging over the tables begin to look a bit like fireflies in flight, adding another layer of atmosphere. Start with a few of the sharing dishes (the soft shell crab tacos and roasted bone marrow garner rave reviews), follow by the suckling pig roulade or octopus el pastor. Eco-conscious gourmands will delight in Hartwood, where the staff travel deep into rural Yucatán to source ingredients from communal farms. All the cooking is done over their wood-burning grill and oven, giving the dishes a back-to-basics character that lets the quality of the region’s produce shine through.
Arca’s barmen are seriously into their craft, warranting a visit even if you don’t plan to dine. Gitano, also ringed by jungle, has a beautiful mirror-backed bar and checkerboard tiles on the floor. Slip into the swing of things with their gypsy disco, a sweet and herbal combination of mezcal, Anejo rum, lime, basil and grenadine.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this villa-only hotel in Mexico and unpacked their copal incense, a full account of their beachfront break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Aldea Canzul in Tulum…
Good things come in threes. An old cliché, yes, but one look at Aldea Canzul and you have to admit that maybe there’s some truth in it after all. Inspired by the artistry of the Yucatán and the seaside villas of the Mediterranean, this trio of Caribbean-facing casas is the perfect complement to their sandy surroundings. Earthy concrete floors, rattan lamps and furniture carved from a forest of woods make each house seem like a natural extension of the beach itself. This is no accident, of course, as they’re designed to be just that: it’s a matter of metres from the turquoise sea to your sun deck, with shady lounge spots, daybeds and hammocks all taking their places in between. Inside, their inch-perfect interiors offer space galore, particularly the living and dining areas, which are designed to accommodate a family or group of friends with ease. Full-size kitchens give you all the tools to cook up a Mexican feast of your own, but if you’d rather use the time to top up your tan, have the concierge arrange for a chef to do the honours instead. And that’s the beauty of the place – you have all the peace and privacy of a home, with the service of a luxury hotel just a phone call away.