The BEST Tips for Hotels in Mexico
If you are coming to Mexico, you are going to need a hotel or several during your stay. How can you get the best deals and select the best ones? What are the hotels like in Mexico like? How do you sift through the listings to find the right hotel for you? In this detailed guide we are going to give you all our tips on hotels so you can have a great stay on your vacation in Mexico. Although we focus on the Playa Del Carmen/Riviera Maya area, these tips apply to all hotels in Mexico.
Hotels in Mexico range from basic hostels to 5 Diamond award winning establishments. You will have a wide range of places in every location to choose from. In general, hotels in Mexico offer great value for your stay compared to many other countries. On average you can expect to pay about 25-50% less for the same quality of hotel that find in other countries. However, you still need to find the best deals and hotels that fit your desires. In this article we will address all of this so you can find and book with confidence and have a great vacation.
How hotels have changed in recent times
Hotels for the family trip used to more or less just a place to stay while the main attraction was the destination. More and more though, hotels are part of the destination and have more of an impact on your vacation. As our homes have become more comfortable, with added amenities like home theater systems and internet, we expect more of hotel rooms. Most people want a hotel that is at least as nice as home, if not a lot nicer. This is after all your vacation time that is very limited each year and most want to make it as special as possible.
In recent years people are paying more for hotels since it does add to the trip experience. Hotels have noticed this and many are stepping up their game to accommodate people looking for that great vacation. More amenities are being added like mood lighting, USB plugs, docking stations, smart TV’s, and larger bathrooms. There are also more categories of hotels and niche markets. So with so many hotels on the market, how do you get the best deal? We will talk about this next.
How to get the best deals on hotels in Mexico
Since a hotel will be one of the more substantial cost of your vacation, it is good to plan well and get the best price possible. So how can you get the best deals on hotels in Mexico? Here are our tips:
Look for new hotels
New hotels that have recently been put on the market will offer good prices for several reasons. Most will want to fill up as soon a possible since they have no reputation. Second, they will offer great rates because they want great reviews. Offering people a lower price, people will be more impressed with the hotel and in general, give much better reviews. Reviews greatly influence peoples bookings and hotels know this.
We have found and reserved new hotels for a discount of about 20%-45% off of what they will charge in the near future. They were all great stays and had great value. New hotels and resorts are normally a great find and good to book, this is true of the mid to upper end hotels. Inexpensive hotels that are new often start at full price and don’t offer any real benefit except for being new.
New hotels will also offer you the services the modern traveler wants. Do you want USB plugs? flat screen tv? modern lighting? all of these things come with newer hotels. Sometimes we look for charm in a hotel but sometimes these do not always offer the services we really want, especially for longer stays.
Play the booking game
Should you wait until the last minute or book well in advance? There are advantages to both. But, the best is well in advance will give you not only usually a good price but also piece of mind. More and more people are booking hotels in Mexico last minute. This in part is because people book travel more close to the date of the trip these days and some people look for last minute deals. Some hotels, in fact, offer deals, but this often comes with a catch. The best hotels are always booked first. This is normally the case with hotels with the best reputations, services, views, location and quality for value. You might think the “Sales price” on a booking site looks attractive and think you are getting a deal, but this often is a hotel looking to book the lower end rooms and not the most popular hotels.
Booking in advance can not only get you the first hotel on your list it can give you piece of mind you are booked. You can plan more for your trip, knowing where you will stay and what is nearby.
Reserving your accommodation during busy periods in Mexico
Christmas, New Years and Holy week (Easter) are very busy travel periods in Mexico. Also time periods of local festivals and events can fill hotels. In the Riviera Maya, the months from November to March are a higher season, for example, because the warm weather and more people escaping winter weather up north. Tip: travel during the three mentioned times above should be reserved as well since busses and national flights can sellout.
Book online or at the front desk?
You might think that you could go to the front desk of hotels and get a better price than an online booking website. This is anything but the best idea. The reason for this is the staff at the front desk have no ability to adjust prices. Hotels are also in contracts to offer standard prices so as not to undercut the booking website.
Often when you enter a hotel in Mexico you will see the listed prices on the wall. They are often much higher than the online prices. It is always best to book online ahead of time.
What website to book hotels on?
There are many websites to book hotels on. We like this one here. They offer not only hotels, but also other types of accommodation. Sometimes you want a more budget friendly option and a guest house is good for you or you want something more homey and an apartment rental is good for you.
There is also this hotel booking site that searches several websites for you, looking for the best prices. They also give you more room options. For example, at an all inclusive resort there are often many room categories and rooms that face different parts of the hotel grounds. Some websites only offer two room categories or options while this website can offer three to five options sometimes.
Tips for booking a hotel on a website and things to look at
More and more people these days book their hotel by themselves from the comfort of their laptop. Here are a few simple tips and tricks for you so you are not disappointed by your hotel stay.
- What do you really need at your hotel? parking? pool? bathtub? Well, many of the booking sites offer filters to sort through the listings.
- If you are arriving late or perhaps leaving later in the day, check the times for check-in and departure. Finding a hotel with a more generous time can be a life saver or even if a hotel has luggage service.
- Look at the actual room you will be booking. Many times the most glamourous rooms are in the top photos and that is not the hotel room you are booking.
- Be sure to look at the location and figure out transportation. Some hotels might be a better deal but if you have to spend 20 minutes on the bus to the center of town, it certainly diminishes the value of a cheap hotel not in the center.
Booking a hotel through a travel agent
In the past, a travel agent was the way most people booked a vacation and hotel. Now travel agents are more used for larger all inclusive hotels that might offer options and discounts if booked through a travel agent. Travel agents can be very helpful in guiding you through the process of not only booking a hotel, but selecting the right hotel for you. Many all inclusive hotels are geared toward different crowds. Some are more family friendly, some are better for people looking for a quiet stay and others are for people that want a more youthful hotel atmosphere.
One of the best travel agents we can recommend for you is Lori. She not only stays in many of the resorts. but lives in Mexico. We have been referring people to here for booking help for years and her clients are very pleased with her services. You can click here to see our article and video with Lori and there is also contact information. Or if you would like to email here with details of what you are looking for, click below to send an email to her.
Bigger hotel or boutique? What is the best deal for you?
If you are looking for a hotel in Mexico it is important to look at the services they offer. Often larger hotels will offer more things like a pool, gym, restaurant and maybe even breakfast included. Some smaller hotels offer charm and a small hotel feel, but if you are not looking for just charm, it might be better and more cost effective to go with the larger hotel. Here is why.
If breakfast is included and other services, this can add a lot of value to your stay. For example, if you get breakfast for two, parking, a gym and luggage storage all included, this can add $30-$40 USD in value to your stay. If a smaller hotel is $20 cheaper a night you still might more expensive if you pay for breakfast, a late checkout and maybe go to the gym. Of course, if you are a foodie, most hotel breakfast that are included are pretty basic. Often going out and paying $8-$11 USD person will get you a nice breakfast in most of Mexico that will be much better than hotel breakfast.
Hotel to read hotel reviews so you don’t get fooled
Hotels know that reviews are important so they want the best ones. They often target happy clients to get them to give good feedback, other times, reviews can be fake. Even though the review websites are supposed to have only real reviews, either hotels get around this or pay to have good reviews put up for them. It is a big business and can mean millions of dollars for large hotels. So how do you read reviews so you can get a good honest feel for the hotel?
The best is when an independent source reviews hotels and talks about them. That is what we like to do here on our website. We stay at hotels, we often make a video and we make lists of recommended hotels for certain towns and locations in the area. For example, here is our guide to Playa Del Carmen, Hotels in Tulum, best places to stay in Bacalar and Valladolid hotels.
Of course we don’t have all of Mexico on our website so here are our tips for you for reading reviews
- We always look at the more detailed comments, both good and bad.
- Most people writing a review are prone to write a complaint after a stay they did not enjoy as much. That is just how most online review sites work. So keep that in mind.
- We take a look at some of the best and worst reviews. If they ramble on about little details, you know they are just trying to complain, maybe to try to get something for free, or they are just grumpy people.
- If someone mentions something positive about a feature that is important to you, listen up! Perhaps you like swimming pools or nice bathrooms and people are talking about that, that is a very good sign.
- We always look at where the people are from that write the reviews. Often people from some countries complain more and we discredit them a little. If people are avid travelers and compare the hotel to others they have stayed at, that is a good review to pay attention to.
- Try searching on YouTube for a hotel review. Videos can often show you much more about the hotel than just a paragraph review. Although lookout for profesional videos or videos with computer voices and stock photos, these are not really helpful.
Airbnb or just booking a hotel in Mexico?
Airbnb in the past few years has risen to be a dominate factor in the hotel booking process. When it started Airbnb was advertised as a unique place to stay in a more local and friendly environment. It was often thought of as a more affordable option as well. It has evolved into a very different thing in todays world. Many Airbnb’s are condos bought by people to rent out for short term gain. They are standard, basic places that are run like amateur hotels. The experience is not what many people expected from a different type of accommodation service.
We stay in dozens of accommodations each year and quite frankly have gotten tired of Airbnb for several reasons. They are:
- The check in and out process is more tedious. Many times you have to line up meeting the owner or rental agent at a specific time. Since it is a unique property you need instructions and a tour to understand all the features.
- We have never been more impressed in person with an Airbnb after seeing it in photos. Often the photos are very professional and even a little outdated.
- Some locations of Mexico offer few Airbnb rentals, but offer man more hotel options.
- Some hotel website offer booking rewards and levels of customers with benefits. This is something that Airbnb does not offer.
- Prices of Airbnb rentals are often the same range as hotels, although we will say you often have more space in Airbnb rentals. With this being said, we often don’t use the kitchen in an Airbnb especially if it is a short stay.
- If anything is wrong with the accommodation, there is not another room next door. Most Airbnb rentals are a single property.
The rise of Condo Hotels
On many booking websites you will see condos rented as hotel rooms. What exactly is this? This is something that is becoming more popular as an option for staying in Mexico. Condo hotels are a relatively new concept. Individual owners buy a condo and then a management runs the condos like a hotel. Owners get a share of the profits and people staying there get a full condo unit which is larger than a hotel room.
We will say not all condo hotels are the same. Some have more restrictions like limed check in times and limited cleaning. Be sure to check the details before booking one. They can offer more space and a good value for a family, but remember it is not a hotel exactly.
Don’t fall for every Instagram hotel room you see
Have you seen some spectacular rooms with a view that you think will make your vacation perfect? Are you willing to book a flight and take your vacation there just over a photo? Millions of people do just that. (See our article about how Instagram has changed travel). We in fact have visited some of these famous hotels in Mexico that lure people to them. What have we found? Often the hotels do have a great photo op but the experience is different then what you might believe from the photos.
For example, sometimes they sell you an experience of Eco chic but in reality it is a room with no WI-FI, TV or even lights sometimes. It can be romantic for a night or two, but after that it can be tiresome and you find yourself missing some of the comforts of home. Also, if the weather is not like the photos, people can become very disappointed with the hotel they selected because there are no photo opts.
The lesson to learn is, it is nice to look at lovely travel photos. Just remember that is one second of one day and the weather and editing can make a place look very different from reality. Also, the experience often is not relayed in the photos, and that is what you will remember more than a photo.
Hotels and traveling with a disability or handicap in Mexico
Most countries institute standards in hotels for people with disabilities. Mexico does have some catching up to do in this regard because many hotels do not offer full standards in this regard. Here are some important tips for you if traveling with a disability in Mexico regarding hotels.
- Most older hotels (more than 10 years old) will have limited or non existent services for handicap patrons.
- Before booking a hotel, send a message to them and ask about certain features you might need. Even if they offer an elevator or other special services, ask if it is working. We have been to many small hotels and the elevators are not working. This happens more frequently because elevators are one of the most expensive maintenance items in a hotel.
- Almost certainly large all inclusive hotels in Mexico will have rooms equipped for handicap needs. Many rooms will be first level, so if you want a view, inquire about this.
- Reserve in advance because many hotels have one or a few rooms that are suitable for persons with disabilities.
Tip: If you are arriving in the Cancun Airport, here is a good transfer company that offers people with disabilities transportation.
Budget Hotels and odd things you encounter in Mexico
If you are staying at hotels that fall into the budget category, depending on what part of the Mexico it is, it can be anywhere from 400-900 pesos a night. Here are some things you should know.
There are a lot of good budget hotels in Mexico. With that being said, there are some bummers out there that might disappoint. So it is good to be selective and know what you are paying for. Here are a few things that might surprise you and confuse you about some budget hotels in Mexico.
- Some showers have a plastic circle over the drain. This is the cover smells that can rise out of it since traps are often not the best.
- Some really budget hotels do not have toilet seats. The reason for this is mainly the warm weather and ease of cleaning. You don’t have cold porcelain to sit on, it is more room temperature.
- Hammock hooks in the room. Yes, especially in the south of Mexico and Yucatan Peninsula you can find these in the room. Even if there is a bed, some people bring hammocks to sleep in.
Overall you can find some good deals in the budget category. However, you do have to be more selective. If it is not in a tourist destination, it might be very basic and only offer a night’s sleep.
Motels in Mexico are cheap for more than one reason
If you are staying on a budget don’t be tempted by motels. These are often on the outskirts of cities and towns. These are locations people go and rent for the hour or night. They are especially set up for privacy, including walled parking and limited visibility. They often can offer very cheap prices but just know what you are getting.
These motels can also be called hotels. They often have names like Hotel Kisses, Hotel Amor, Hotel Passion and so on.
Thank you for reading our article on hotels in Mexico. We hope this has given you some good insights on what is available and how to get a good room for your vacation. Let us know your thoughts below in the comment section.