The largest city in the state of Quintana Roo, in the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is a fun place to visit and it perfectly caters to any kind of traveler.
Whether you are visiting this part of Mexico for a family getaway or are traveling with your better half, and even if you are a backpacker on a budget, there are many incredible places to stay in Cancun. The city is divided into three main areas – each with its own perks and selection of hotels.
Not sure where to stay in Cancun? This post has you covered! Continue reading and you will find a short summary of what each Cancun area has to offer, and a selection of the best places to stay in Cancun, with the best Cancun hotels for all budgets, including adults-only all-inclusive in Cancun and some of the best resorts in Cancun.
Make sure to read my post The Best Things To Do In Cancun.
Where To Stay In Cancun: The Best Areas And Best Cancun Hotels
Zona Hotelera – Perfect for First-Timers
Also known as the Hotel Zone, this is the most developed part of Cancun and is where you’ll find some of the best Cancun hotels. Alongside the hotels, you’ll find everything you need for a comprehensive stay in this Maya Riviera city – shopping malls, restaurants, and lots of beach, of course.
The geography of Zona Hotelera is part of the charm – set on a bar of sand that juts out from Downtown Cancun, it’s almost like an island. For that reason, it’s here that the most high-end resorts and luxury hotels in Cancun are located. This usually also means more expensive, too.
But being located here doesn’t mean you’ll be cut off from other parts of the town. The Hotel Zone is still connected to other parts of Cancun by public transport, and you can easily reach the center of the city from here.
Zona Hotelera is one of the best places to stay in Cancun if you’re on a family vacation. That’s because there are plenty of hotels here set up to accommodate people traveling with children. But it’s also where to stay in Cancun for those who simply want to kick back on the beach – adults-only all-inclusive in Cancun will appeal to honeymooners and couples who just want a quiet vacation on the beach.
Because the area has been developed specifically for tourists, Zona Hotelera may lack a little of the authenticity of other neighborhoods. But there’s a ton of amenities here, great drinking and dining options, and other services, making it a low-stress place to stay.
Looking for the best hotels in Cancun Zona Hotelera? Here is a selection.
Best luxury hotel in Zona Hotelera – Canopy By Hilton Cancun La Isla
This branch of the Hilton in Cancun offers up one of the most stylish and sophisticated places to stay in Cancun. Coming fully equipped with a range of amenities, staying here means you’ll have all the luxuries you need at your fingertips.
Amenities at this hotel include a rooftop swimming pool with views out across the Caribbean Sea, hot tubs, a fitness center, a garden to kick back in, as well as a chic bar and restaurants. Interiors throughout are modern and polished, with eye-catching artwork and upscale furnishings.
There are a variety of rooms to choose from, each decorated in a mix of smokey blues and dark woods, and accented with metallics, and with large windows let in plenty of light. Canopy by Hilton is also pet-friendly, so you can bring your pooch along for some pampering, too.
Best mid-range hotel in Zona Hotelera – La Villa du Golf à Cancun Hotel Boutique
A little different to the high-rise offerings in the Hotel Zone, La Villa du Golf is a small, traditional-style villa that’s packed full of elegant charm. The colorful exterior topped with terracotta tiles welcomes in visitors to the boutique surroundings.
Here you can enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool, set in a courtyard and edged by palm trees. Or you could simply cool off in the air conditioned lounge inside. Throughout the accommodation there are marble floors, high ceilings, white-washed walls, and yet more places to relax.
The guest rooms at this villa are decked out in a modern yet traditional style, maintaining historical elements of the building – such as the brick vaulted ceilings – and boasting large comfortable beds. But one of the best things about this place is the staff who’ll make sure your stay runs as smoothly as possible.
Best budget hotel in Zona Hotelera – Real Inn Cancún
Looking for where to stay in Cancun on a budget? Situated on the lagoon side of the strip of land that makes up the Hotel Zone, Real Inn Cancun is just 400 meters (0.25 miles) from Playa Tortugas and is easily one of the best budget-friendly places to stay in Cancun. It’s a large, modern hotel that’s sparklingly clean and spotless throughout – the rooms here are simple and streamlined but sophisticated.
Offering up some great value for money, there are actually a great range of room options here – each one is decked out with a color palette of greys, oranges and whites. Some even come with spacious balconies featuring loungers and lagoon views.
In terms of amenities, guests staying at Real Inn Cancun can make full use of the well-equipped fitness center, picturesque outdoor pool, and the charming hotel restaurant, which boasts indoor-outdoor style dining with lagoon views. All in all, this Cancun hotel really is great value for money, and it’s an ideal option for everyone!
Punta – Where to stay in Cancun for nightlife
Meaning “Point” in Spanish, Punta makes up the northernmost portion of the thin strip of land that comprises the Hotel Zone. Punta is where to stay in Cancun if you’re in the city to party. For that reason, it’s popular with spring breakers and beach lovers who also like to dance the night away on the sand.
Simply put, Punta is a bustling beach destination that has something going on 24/7. Think DJs spinning tunes at beach bars, trendy drinking holes, restaurants galore, and even a selection of nightclubs – all with a palm-lined Caribbean coastline to enjoy.
But it’s not just about nightlife. The range of accommodation here is incredible, and it means that all different types of travelers on varying budgets can enjoy a break on the Mayan Riviera. You can opt to sit by the pool and enjoy all the joys of your all-inclusive resort, or you can hop on an organized tour to explore Maya ruins further afield.
With more options, from shopping malls to water sports, there’s never a dull moment in Punta. It may not be as quiet or fancy as the southern end of the Hotel Zone, but that doesn’t mean you miss out on the beautiful beaches, ocean views, the conveniences and great dining. It’s just more noisy and usually cheaper.
Looking for where to stay in Cancun’s Punta? Here is a selection!
Best luxury hotel in Punta – Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites
Situated practically on the beach itself, this high-end hotel creates a beautiful setting for your Cancun vacation. Perfect for families or couples who want a quiet holiday, staying is all about comfort and convenience.
Days can be spent here relaxing on a lounger next to the pool, or perhaps strolling mere steps to the powdery white sand of the beach. For those who are fans of the game, there’s also a golf course a three-minute drive away. But if you’re in need of pampering, you could opt for a massage – there’s also a gym situated onsite, too.
In terms of rooms, guest suites here come with their own private balconies with views of the sea. They’re spacious and feature dining tables, simple decor and large windows. And for dinner, opt for one of the two on-site restaurants, or choose to dine on the sand as the sun sets.
Best mid range hotel in Punta – Aloft Cancun
If you’re looking for one of the best Cancun hotels that are fun and funky, look no further than Aloft. This youthful hotel, created by chic hotel giant W Hotels, features cool, colorful spaces to enjoy on your Cancun vacation.
The rooftop terrace here – complete with a swimming pool – is ideal for soaking up some rays, or sipping on a cocktail or two. Elsewhere, the guest lounge is a social spot for drinks over the pool table, while the vibrant hotel bar serves up tipples late into the night.
Fitness enthusiasts can enjoy the gym and steam room, or for something more relaxing you can head to either Forum Beach or Marlin Beach – both are just a few hundred meters from the doors of the hotel.
Best budget hotel in Punta – Selina Cancun Laguna
Packed full of character, Selina Cancun Laguna offers up accommodation for an affordable price. But it’s not just affordable – this hotel is actually very stylish. Rooms here are boutique levels of design, each one decorated individually with everything from safari-esque themes to colorful mid-century modern aesthetics.
And for those who are on a shoestring budget, there’s a dormitory here, too, making this one of the best places to stay in Cancun for backpackers.
Shared guest spaces here include a bright and breezy dining area, a beautiful outdoor terrace and deck, a swimming pool, a bar with a pool table, and even a cinema room with its very own projector screen.
This place feels like an Instagram-friendly addition to Cancun’s accommodation, with an authentic feeling tagline – “escape the ordinary.”
El Centro – Where to stay in Cancun for a more local feel
Away from the island-like tourist zone is the primarily residential Downtown district of Cancun, also known as El Centro. It’s here that the everyday life of the city takes place, so staying here means you’ll get to experience the “real” Cancun.
El Centro is home to a number of authentic attractions to explore, including Mercado 28 – an open-air market where you can pick up souvenirs and sample dishes from its many food stalls. There’s also Parque de las Papas, a city park with tables, playgrounds and even a stage for live music.
This area of Cancun is particularly good for foodies. That’s because throughout El Centro you’ll find a whole host of food trucks, mom and pop eateries, and various stalls and vendors to sate your appetite. Food here is a long way from the all-inclusive buffet, and it’s a must-try if you want a taste of actual Mexican food.
Over in the recently redeveloped Avenida Tulum is the core of Cancun’s Downtown. It’s home to the City Hall, and other municipal buildings, as well as shops, bars, and small markets, making it ideal for an easygoing stroll.
Accommodation in the area may not be as high end as the glitzy offerings in the Zona Hotelera. But they are often much more affordable, especially for backpackers, and also for those who might be interested in a smaller, more specialist boutique hotel.
Another bonus of El Centro is its transport connections. Since it’s the center of the city, you’ll find the main bus terminal here, as well as ferry connections for onward travel and day trips from Gran Puerto and Puerto Juarez.
Looking for the best places to stay in Cancun’s El Centro? Keep on reading!
Best luxury hotel in Centro – Suites Malecon Cancun
This is one of the best luxury hotels in Cancun. Inside, its minimalist interiors create a relaxing ambience, with guest rooms that boast polished floors – white-washed walls, and private terraces, with some featuring their very own hot tub, too.
The hotel has a huge rooftop pool, where you can also get views out across the lagoon and the Caribbean Sea beyond. Away from the pool, there’s a large gym where guests can keep up with their exercise routines, as well as a guest lounge and bar.
Best mid-range hotel in Centro – Oh! Cancun – The Urban Oasis
This fashionable hotel in Cancun’s Centro district is the place to stay if you’re looking for some boutique style. Located less than a kilometer (about half a mile) from the bus station, it’s a great option if you’re arriving in the city from elsewhere, or plan on traveling further afield.
The whole hotel is immaculately maintained, from the chic outdoor pool – surrounded by sunbeds and palm trees – to the vibrant ambience of the hotel bar and restaurant. Rooms here are spacious and simple, and decked out in warm greys and pops of color.
Best budget hotel in El Centro – Hotel Kavia
For a true bargain stay in Cancun, yet with modern interiors and plenty of amenities, consider Hotel Kavia. One thing that’s great about this place is its location – in fact, the hotel is very close to the ADO bus terminal and Avenida Tulum with all its amenities.
There’s an outdoor swimming pool here, as well as a restaurant and a bar, so guests don’t have to travel far for a bite to eat if they don’t want to. The decor throughout the hotel is simple, with tiled floors and calming colors – rooms come with large beds, air conditioning, TVs and contemporary bathrooms.
The Best Resorts In Cancun
Staying at a hotel is great, but staying at one of the all-inclusive resorts in Cancun may be even better for some. Resorts here are large, almost like self-contained luxury towns within Cancun itself. Here are a couple of the best…
Sun Palace Resort
Easily one of the best resorts in Cancun, this chic, all-inclusive resort has been designed specifically for couples, and makes for the perfect romantic getaway, or a break from a busy schedule. Situated in an exclusive oceanfront location, Sun Palace Resort is just a short drive from many of Cancun’s popular attractions.
The resort boasts four specialty restaurants, where guests can dine as part of the all-inclusive package, as well as three bars, each one offering something slightly different in terms of ambience.
Other amenities include nightly entertainment and activities to look forward to, three infinity pools to lounge around, an onsite gym, a spa, and – of course – the hotel’s very own slice of beachfront.
Rooms here are stylish and beautifully appointed, and come with their own private hot tubs, private balconies or terraces, and designer decor.
Nizuc Resort & Spa
This amazing resort has practically everything you could ever need in a luxury hotel. The rooms alone are incredible, decked out in Balinese style with natural wood fixtures and stone floors, minimalist aesthetic, and their own private terraces. There’s a wide variety of room options, from garden suites all the way to penthouses.
The coolness of Nizuc Resort & Spa doesn’t stop at its stylish rooms. Then there are the amenities. You’ll find a seemingly endless amount of dining options onsite (six restaurants in total, and numerous bars). There’s also a spa, where guests can unwind with numerous treatments and services.
This Cancun resort has its own private beach and dock, as well as multiple swimming pools and spaces to kick back. It’s a beautiful, romantic place with an excellent level of service to match.
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