Carr. Tulum-Boca Paila Km. 4.1, Hotel Zone, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Set on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, with pelicans gliding by, this smart boutique hotel allows a sophisticated and peacefully adults-only experience of Tulum's coast.
The popular coastal town of Tulum has three sides, each with their own characteristics: Tulum downtown; Tulum's main beach-side strip that leads down to Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve; and the protected national park. The first is lively, a common breakout away from the coast for a quick dip into Mexican gastronomy and souvenir shops, while the second is a semi-paradise that quickly got saturated with overpriced boutique shops, cyclists taking Selfies and Sunday's chaotic traffic. But the third is a protected area surrounding the archeological zone of Tulum's Mayan coastal ruins, with less development allowed along the seafront and dreamy public beaches. It's this quieter, less overloaded area that is home to Mi Amor boutique hotel.
Mi Amor (meaning "my love") is the most luxurious sibling in Mexican company Colibrí Boutique's hotel family (They also own La Zebra, Mezzanine and other hotels and restaurants in Tulum's Hotel Zone—plus the top place to stay on Little Corn Island in Nicaragua). It opened in 2014, announcing itself as a place for romantic breaks, especially for people with a love of food and drink. The restaurant's menu was designed by Australian chef Paul Bentley, with drinks by Jasper Soffer, the former head bartender of the legendary SoHo House in London.
Contrasting with the "boho-chic" style that dominates Tulum, marked by rustic bamboo palapas and thatched roofs, Mi Amor went for a different take: a smart, modern, straight-edged design with subtle Mexican touches.
Being on an outcrop formed by fossilized coral, in an area where just a handful of hotels are allowed, means the property is private and secluded. The archeological ruins are 2.5 km away along the coast. The local vibes of Las Palmas and Pescadores beach are just 400 meters away—an easy walk.
As you arrive in the stylish wooden lobby, a generous Tequila Aperol will be handed to you. During check-in, a friendly host will give you a quick tour of the compact property, the grassy grounds decorated with a few black wooden statues of people. Colorful beds and egg-shaped chairs hang over an infinity pool overlooking the bright blue sea. Minimalistic beats echo in the open-air lounge, which is decorated with Acapulco chairs. A wall covered in tropical leaves states in neon lighting "I often think of you."
On the tip of the outcrop, you can find a few lounging beds and chairs, each partially shaded with white fabric and positioned to look out over the sea. As you lay back, you can look down along the long strip of white powdery beach to the north, which you can access via a three-minute walk from the hotel. To the south, there's an empty cove surrounded by jungle. You might think for a second about venturing into the water in front of the hotel, but the jagged black rocks mean that would be quite risky.
The design of the rooms at Mi Amor hotel is well-balanced, with modern colorful touches. There are purple vinyl corded nightstands and turquoise hanging lamps on either side of the white linen-covered bed, as well as polished furniture made from local Tzalam wood. Textured white stone walls make the Mexican textiles of the pillows pop out. You might find bright, fresh flowers and a book of the Maya Sutra next to a Mexican cookbook on the coffee table.
Depending on which type of room you book, you'll either have a deck or a terrace. All the rooms are TV-free and have A/C and a fan, a minibar, complimentary drinking water, Wi-Fi and a coffee machine. What makes the difference between rooms is the view (some rooms are set closer to the ocean, while others are set back) and whether it has its own little plunge pool or not.
The bathroom isn't large, but it's spacious enough to have his and hers sinks. There's also a rain shower decorated with tiles in soft turquoise in the style of Mexico's famous Talavera.
You can grab a beach towel and head down to the infinity pool, big enough for cooling dips and relaxing with cocktails, but not large enough for proper swims. You can also explore the coast and use the facilities at Colibri's three sister hotels (Mezzanine, El Pez and La Zebra), with Mezzanine, the nearest, offering a great beachfront position. All of the hotels have restaurants and beach clubs.
At night, you can sit out on a candle-lit, open-air deck and enjoy the stars. You could also try one of the cocktails created by Soffer, which are memorable, made with "healing oils" and local ingredients. The Stay Present, made with mezcal and violet liquor blended with rosemary and lavender oil, is big on flavor but, as with many of the cocktails here, it's surprisingly small. The cocktails are apparently designed to "awaken your senses," but it'll take more than one or two of these expensive and quickly disappeared drinks to do that.
The same menu is used for lunch and dinner, offering Mexican and international options, including tacos, hamburgers, pastas, and grilled seafood. You can share one or two tapas plates, choosing from generous portions of hummus, guacamole, or even oysters from the far western waters of the country. Being in Mexico's Riviera Maya, an area known for good seafood, you might be tempted by the fish tacos, but they're a little disappointing and low on flavor, a crime in this part of the world. The grilled fish was one of the recommended specialties, a warming plate of tasty snapper cooked with almond, grapes, lemon and a soubise purée on the side. The beetroot ravioli with parmesan was another great companion to a glass of wine.
In the mornings, you can have breakfast back at the same open-air deck, relaxing by watching the birds flying over the sea as you wait for your coffee and juice. Breakfast is included with your reservation and there are a few options to choose from, including the Tulum classic avocado toast on rye bread or the Mexican dish chilaquiles, as well as appetizing choices such as smoked salmon tartine or waffles with berries. You can also try the close-to-perfect huevos rancheros: a pair of sunny side eggs covered in a red sauce, sprinkled with fresh local cheese and slices of avocado.
After reading a book on the gazebo, you could head to Mi Amor's tiny but effective spa, tucked away in a corner of the main building. There are classic relaxing massages starting from $90 and facials for $150, as well as couple treatments that run for about $225. We had the Honey Treatment, a 120-minute experience that started with an exfoliation, continued with a hot stone massage and finished with a warm flower bath while we sipped glasses of champagne.
If you're in the mood for a change of scene for dinner, you might head along to Mezzanine's highly recommended Thai restaurant, where you can sit under the trees that have grown out through the large deck overlooking the ocean. Tall cocktails drinks are creative and tasty. Burnt By The Sun is a good example: mezcal with Liquor 43 and passion fruit, presented in a cup made of bamboo, with a cinnamon stick set on fire as a garnish.
The dining options executed by the Thai chef are well-presented and hearty. Crispy veggie money bags are served inside a little bamboo chest. A Massaman curry arrived fast and hot in the shell of dried local fruit jicara. The Pad Thai was excellent, presented in a bowl made from a banana leaf.
As you arrive back to Mi Amor, you might want to lay down in one of the gazebo beds and keep your eyes open for a shooting star, or you could opt to play some cards or table games in the lounge. It is remarkable that, even though this is Tulum (which can be a bit pretentious in places) and a boutique hotel, there's a friendly atmosphere with couples of different ages and nationalities genuinely relaxing and enjoying themselves.
Though prices always feel on the unjustifiably high side in Tulum, Mi Amor offers good value in terms of location, privacy, and service. It also comes with the assurance of being part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. It is a secluded getaway where couples can take it very easy.
If you are curious about the other sides of Tulum, the concentration of ever-changing restaurants and overpriced boutique shops are still within relatively easy reach, around a 20-minute drive away. But if you're looking to be looked after by friendly staff, to eat and drink well, to lie back and watch passing pelicans, or to take a beach stroll to see Tulum's ruins in the distance, Mi Amor might be just the right place.
Web Address: TulumHotelMiAmor
Total Number of Rooms: 18 suites
Published rates: $170 to $2,050 plus taxes
Review and photos by Andrea Moreno