On the beach road out of Tulum, Casa Pueblo Boca Paila in Mexico’s Quintana Roo has the thatched roofs, striped sunloungers and whitewashed walls necessary for a stylish stay in Mexico’s most modish beach town. The centrepiece pool’s handmade tiles were laid by artisans, potted plants climb up the bare plasterwork and there’s not a palm out of place. Even the lobby is as welcoming as rocking up at your fabulous friend’s house, with a reception that may as well be someone’s lounge. Explore the buzzy bars and rowdy restaurants that line this stretch of coastline, knowing you have that heavenly saltwater pool to soothe your mezcal-sore head.
Double rooms from £238.86 ($298), including tax at 19 per cent.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast (from US$12 a person).
The man behind Casa Pueblo Boca Paila (and Smith-approved sister property Casa Pueblo Tulum) is Derek Klein, formerly of Gitano: the slickest cocktail bar ever seen in a jungle.
At the hotel
Beach, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: air-conditioning, free bottled water and organic Loredana bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the rooms in this three-storey ocean-front casa has a similar, equally dreamy design aesthetic, but we especially loved the Atriums, for their people-watching potential. For the most space, go for a Master. Private, prudish types, be warned: the bathrooms don’t have full doors, so be prepared to get to know your travelling partner well.
There’s a red-and-white-tiled, saltwater pool surrounded by palm trees and striped sunloungers.
The hotel doesn’t have a full spa, but there is an in-room treatment menu, and Pilates and yoga classes can also be arranged.
Bring snorkelling gear if you’re planning on cenote swims, or just floaty kaftans if you’re hoping to convincingly transition into Tulum life.
The hotel is not easily accessible for wheelchair users.
This one’s for full-grown Smiths only.
The hotel uses seasonal, locally sourced produce, meat and fish where possible, along with eco-friendly cleaning sprays and organic bath products.
At Casa Pueblo Boca Paila, all tables are created equal – but the ones closest to the beach are slightly more equal than the others.
King and queen of the jungle.
The restaurant has a thatched roof and French windows opening out onto the beach. There’s a buzzy, beach-club atmosphere, and a focus on all things Mexican, along with a side line in pizzas. Expect dishes like shrimp tacos, tuna tostadas and grilled octopus. Breakfast – avo on toast (in the land that invented guacamole, it’s going to be good), chia puddings and waffles with fruit and agave – can be served in your room or in the restaurant.
The cocktail bar serves up cooling concoctions all day, muddled with house-made syrups and juices, as well as some well-selected organic and natural wines, which are said to cause less-punishing hangovers.
Breakfast is available from 8am to 12.30pm, with food and drinks served all day until 10.30pm.
There’s a special menu of dishes that can be served in-room.
Casa Pueblo Boca Paila is on a stretch of Quintana Roo coast in Mexico, south of Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
The nearest airport is 77 miles away in Cancún. The drive should take around two hours – hotel transfers for up to four people cost US$150.
The hotel is about 20 minutes by car from Tulum and a 45-minute drive from Playa Del Carmen. There’s free parking at the hotel. Tulum’s growing popularity among sun-seekers has brought about serious improvements to coastal Highway 307: potholes have been replaced with fresh paving, making it a hell of a lot easier to get around the region.
Worth getting out of bed for
Cure your mezcal hangovers by the pool, or keep going with the cooling cocktails while watching the waves from the bar. The beach is in reach, as are cenotes, scuba-dives, paddle-boarding, wind-surfing, free diving and trips to pre-Columbian ruins. The hotel will also be able to guide you to a Mayan sweat lodge, which is much more enjoyable than it sounds. And if your head’s not too sore, sign up for yet more mezcal tasting.The million-acre Boca Paila Peninsula is also known as Sian Ka’an, and is a Unesco-protected reserve on the southern Yucatán coast where you can go fly-fishing, snorkelling in search of coral reefs and bird-watching. Xcacel is a beautiful white-and-cyan beach with the added bonus of a turtle sanctuaryand a cenote. If you’re sensing there’s a bit of a theme here, well done you: more cenotes await at Dos Ojos, an entire system of sinkholes that you can snorkel around (as long as you don’t suffer from claustrophobia).It’s a good two-hour drive north, but Chichén Itzá keeps the crowds coming for a reason – although, if you prefer to have your Mayan ruins to yourself, head an hour up the coast to Coba, a lagoon-flanked ancient city that far fewer people visit.
For coffee and coconut-covered French toast, head to Del Cielo on Avenida Satélite in Tulum; but be prepared to queue in high season as everyone else can’t get enough of its guac, either. Safari Comedor Zama serves up classic Mexican cuisine (moles, ceviche, tostadas) with craft beers to wash it down with. Posada Margherita transplanted a little slice of Italy to Tulum about 20 years ago, and this pizzeria and beach bar is still curbing carb cravings today; expect an authentic wood oven, recipes all the way from the owner’s grandmother’s kitchen in Genoa and house-made gelato. Take a seat at Kitchen Table in the jungle, but be sure to have your Bitcoin handy: the restaurant only takes cash and cryptocurrencies, apparently.
On the road that runs between the hotel and Tulum, Back Bar is the place to roll to after enjoying its adjacent restaurant Arca’s fire-cooked fare (forget farm-to-table, this cookery is proudly flame-to-fork).
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 boutique hotel in Mexico and unpacked their mezcal and Mariachi music, a full account of their coastal break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Casa Pueblo Boca Paila near Tulum…
Just when Tulum couldn’t possibly get any cooler, Derek Klein expanded his (mini) Casa Pueblo empire to beachfront biosphere-reserve Boca Paila, a short drive south of Tulum. This patch of the Boca Paila beach road is best known for sustainable solar-powered darling Hartwood restaurant and Klein’s own jungle-set cocktail bar Gitano, but this new casa on the block is sure to start a following of its own. Klein has put his globetrotting to good use: namely, in the aesthetic of his new hotel, which has Moorish arches, and fabrics draped in the way a Japanese restaurant might style them. The casa’s restaurant has vintage Caribbean feels, with French doors that open out to the beach. But the furniture was designed just for the property and all made by local artisans, including the red-and-white pool tiles. Tulum may not need any more hotspots, but Casa Pueblo Boca Paila is heating things up without even trying.
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