Tulum, Mexico

Casa Malca

Rates from (ex tax)$460.00

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD547.40), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

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Style

Artfully rustic residence

Setting

Beachside biosphere

More like a Bond-villain’s beach house than a luxury hotel, Casa Malca is set on the confectioners’ sugar-soft sands of the Riviera Maya, hidden from prying eyes within a concealed entrance. Designed and outfitted by its art dealer-owner, the hotel's rooms are arranged to let you snooze under an array of contemporary art installations and while away the day on the beach or next to the hotel’s three pools – one of which has a movie-worthy subterranean lair. 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

Choose from a dinner for two in the restaurant; a private yoga class; or a 45-minute tour of Tulum’s ruins

Facilities

Photos Casa Malca facilities

Need to know

Rooms

40, including 11 suites.

Check–Out

Noon. Earliest check-in is 3pm (flexible, subject to availability).

Rates

Double rooms from $460.00, excluding tax at 19 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD547.40), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates usually include an á la carte breakfast of Mexican brunch classics such as chilaquiles (egg- and avocado-filled tortillas), ‘Mayadict’ (think Latin-inspired eggs Benedict) and omelettes cooked to order.

At the hotel

Private beach, pilates lessons, free WiFi. In rooms: balcony or terrace, minibar, air-conditioning, free bottled water.

Our favourite rooms

If you can stretch your budget to one of the Malca Suites then do; one has a rooftop terrace overlooking the tangled jungle, the other boasts sweeping views across the ocean and pools. Toes can meet the sand in record time if you pick a Master Suite Beach Front, which has hammocks on a private terrace and access to the white-sand beach.

Poolside

There are three pools in total; our pick would be the largest, which overlooks the beach and has a Bond-esque softly-lit underground grotto.

Packing tips

Yoga pants and your itsy-bitsiest bikini: the hotel has hosted Sports Illustrated Swimwear Edition shoots in the past (now it’s your turn).

Also

Massages can be arranged; just ask when you arrive.

Children

Welcome, but the art might be lost on little ones. Baby cots can be added to all rooms for free.

Food and Drink

Photos Casa Malca food and drink

Top Table

There are no cocktail classes, but if you sit up at the bar you can watch pros shaking up fiery margaritas until you’ve sussed the best technique to recreate them at home.

Dress Code

Leave your shoes (and your cares) behind, and dine barefoot. Cool beach coverups in Mayan prints and cut-offs are Tulum’s unofficial uniform.

Hotel restaurant

An Instagrammer’s dream of reclaimed wood, vintage shabby-chic furniture and a menu heavy on avocado, Casa Malca’s restaurant Philosophy is a laid-back contrast to the modern house. Pick from Mexican classics scrawled on a giant blackboard propped against the bar and snuggle into one of the sofas with a margarita while you wait. Ingredients come from around the Yucatán and lean towards the health-conscious, with a spark of chilli and citrus. We went for the ultimate Mexican trio of tacos, ceviche and guacamole, served with a side of grilled octopus and an icy margarita; we’d order it again tomorrow.

Last orders

Breakfast service is a relaxed 7am–11am. Lunch is served 11.30am–3pm, dinner between 5.30pm and 11pm.

Room service

There’s no room service, but there’s free bottled water in the minibar and a Nespresso machine, plus a selection of paid-for snacks.

Location

Photos Casa Malca location
Address
Casa Malca
Km 9.5 Carretera Fed.Tulum-Boca Paila
Tulum
77780
Tulum
Mexico

Planes

The hotel is about a two-hour drive from Cancún International Airport (www.cancun-airport.com), which has flights from a wide choice of US and UK airports. Arrive with JetBlue (www.jetblue.com), American (www.aa.com) and United (www.united.com), or fly non-stop from London Gatwick with British Airways (www.britishairways.com) and Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com).

Automobiles

On-site parking is free, but if you’re planning on basing yourself in Tulum, you won’t need a car. The resort itself has just one main road, and the hotel can arrange private airport transfers for US$150 one-way or US$300 for a round trip. Being a secluded spot, the hotel’s entrance is a little hard to find (all the best places are), so keep an eye out for the grey gate with the train sign, if you do decide to make your own way there.

Worth getting out of bed for

Tulum may be famous for its beaches, but outside of the beach resort there’s ancient history to uncover and natural beauty in spades. Travel back in time to the 13th century as you visit the ruins of Tulum, overlooking the sea from a rocky bluff. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix hurtling through caves and swimming with dolphins at Xcaret, though if you prefer your nature a little less manicured, there are a number of national parks to roam around. At Aktun-Chen the underground world awaits. Forgot your anti-ageing cream? The underwater river is said to hold the elixir of youth. Kayak through the swaying grasses, keeping your eyes peeled for birds, at Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve, where you can also try fly fishing. Tulum is famous for its cenotes, so it would be a shame to miss out on the subterranean action; Grand Cenote is a favourite.

Local restaurants

Tulum is one of Mexico’s favourite foodie hotspots, and Hartwood is one of the best places to try top-drawer Mexican dishes, including fresh-from-the-ocean fish caught by spear, the traditional way, and organic vegetables grown a sustainable stone’s throw from the restaurant. There isn’t a single electrical appliance in the kitchen and all the cooking is done on a wood-fired grill, but the wait times of up to two hours speak for themselves. If the tacos-and-tortillas get too much, Posada Margherita is an Italian antidote. Inside the rustic beach shack, teetering piles of juicy tomatoes and tart limes are turned into toppings for fluffy pizzas and creamy bowls of pasta, served outside on the sand.

Local bars

At Gitano, Studio 54 meets the beach, with a glitterball suspended between palm trees and an eclectic cocktail menu – don’t miss the Gypsy Disco, a medley of mezcal, rum, lime and basil grenadine.

Reviews

Photos Casa Malca reviews
Kristin Limoges

Anonymous review

Don't come to Casa Malca.

Don't come unless you like white sand in your toes and aquamarine waves poetically crashing into each other nearby.

Don't come unless you’re cool with tacos and jicama mezcal cocktails being mere inches from you at all times.

Don't come unless spending the day swaying on a variety of colorful hammocks sounds like your ideal situation.

If you can stomach the idea that you'll forget the need to wear shoes, and that the sky is just that blue at all times, then sure, come to Casa Malca. But only if that sounds okay.

Otherwise, forget it. Don't come. Leave it for me.

The design? Yeah, you'll like the design. The buildings themselves are minimalist and mostly concrete. It gives the space a clean slate to counter with bright, bold art and carefully selected colors in every room. And to get anywhere – the restaurant, the pool, the lobby – you simply walk through the sand, past palms and hammocks.

The resort is the property of New York-based art dealer Lio Malca, who renovated it from top to bottom, filling each corner and crevice with his own private collection of art. Even the juice bar is enlivened floor-to-ceiling with a Keith Haring wallpaper that transfixes. Naturally the extensive selection of art is audacious and eclectic, with lots of familiar names represented – Haring, George Condo, Kaws, Kenny Scharf…

Oh, and we should probably address the fact that, yes, it was owned by Pablo Escobar. Yep, the Pablo Escobar. In fact, the property was abandoned in 1993 when Escobar died. Malca bought it in 2012, and Casa Malca opened officially in 2015.

But back to the design. The pool – ahh, the pool… Feel free to splash, lounge and order refreshments to your hearts delight as music softly plays overhead. But there is a pool feature that is a true showstopper: a separate underground pool.

It doesn’t sound all that revolutionary but, once you take the steps downstairs, you discover the air is filled with warm steam, yet the water you’re wading in is ice cold. It's magic. And yes, very conveniently there are plush, ocean-spying day-beds, and the beach is monitored constantly to ensure nothing spoils its seclusion.

I did get out of the enclosed resort, once. But I made it count. To leave, just borrow one of the many bikes and make your way down the street until something catches your eye. You'd be wise to stop for a matcha coconut latte at the cutest roadside stand where the menu is written on a surfboard, and the chairs are swings.

If you keep biking down the road, you’ll happen upon the most special Mayan-inspired boutique and quickly realize it’s Caravana: home of those boho style cover-ups you’ve been lusting after on Net-a-Porter. You’ll be grateful that your bike has a basket to put your new purchases in, and you’ll head back noting all the places you’ll want make a return trip for.

Another beloved local favorite is renowned restaurant Hartwood, where sustainability and (incredible) local foods are the main focus. But for now you’ve got to get back – too much resting and jicama cocktails to attend to.

The crowd staying at Malca is an interesting mix of cool Europeans, New Yorkers down for some Vitamin D, and good-looking locals (I met a handsome chef from Hartwood by the pool).

And the food? It’s focused on light fare, inspired by the Yucatan cuisine and local ingredients, all while maintaining an eco-friendly approach. But all I can hear, see or say is: ‘GUACAMOLE’ which, along with rest and relaxation, is exactly what I came for.

I got all three in spades.

You’d probably hate it, though…

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Casa Malca’s Guestbook below.

We loved

The restaurant and friendly staff are both extremely memorable. Also, the seclusion of Casa Malca while surrounded by their pristine grounds and beaches. Local recommendations are too many to name, but a few of my favorites are Sanara's Coconut cafe, Hartwood, and Posada Margarita. Also Sanara and Yaan Spa for treatments.

Don’t expect

Lively nights. Expect peace, quiet, and relaxation at its finest.

Rating

Stayed on 4 Apr 2017

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