While Cancun and the Riviera Maya as a whole are jam-packed with mega-resorts like Moon Palace or Royalton, once you transition into Playa del Carmen and Tulum you start getting into the more boutique options. Little pockets of paradise where you find 10 to 30-room options with a wide array of styles stretched out along the 5th Avenue in PDC (and the strip in Tulum). Tucked away in the heart of downtown Playa is where you’ll find Hotel Lunata, a quiet little boutique hotel that offers up simple accommodations right on the famous Quinta.
While it’s not directly on the beach (a downside for some), you’re only steps away. It was literally less than a three minute walk for us to get down to the sand for some early morning video and photo shoots the morning after our stay. And while you’re on the 5th Avenue, it’s surprisingly quiet; I’m a notoriously light sleeper (while Cris can sleep through an earthquake), and I only woke up once due to having drank a week bit much prior to sleeping, and I only heard a muffled bass line that wasn’t enough to keep me from drifting back off once my head hit the pillow.
And while it might not be much to look at from the outside, it’s what is inside that can take your breath away, if you let it. The moment you step through into the high-ceilinged atrium you get a sense of what’s to come, but it’s not until after you get past the corridor lined with handcrafted artesanal goods that you get your first glimpse of the hacienda-themed interior, and the intimate gardens and breakfast nook behind the hotel; a private corner away from the hustle and bustle where you can lounge and read in the shade of a tropical garden if the sun and sand aren’t your style. Although be warned: mosquitos are a reality of the tropics, and are aggressive during the early evening hours, year-round.
The lunar theme is evident throughout the property; not only is it part of the signage and in the name, but you’ll see echoes everywhere, from the constellation-style lighting that hang from the beamed ceiling in the reception area, to the celestial name plaques for the rooms themselves. There’s constant reminders elsewhere, such as constellation-themed sculptures and artwork hanging from the walls in the corridors, with various forms of the sun and moon, both alone and in various forms of transformation.
You get a feel of the hacienda theme in the public areas with adobe tile floors, painted ceramic tile accents on the stairs going up, iron-wrought banisters and lanterns, hand-painted artwork, wood-beamed ceilings, and heavy wooden doors, but it’s not until you step into the rooms themselves that you truly get a chance to see the artistry of the hotel. While the public areas offer you that boutique vibe, and done well, the rooms themselves are works of art.
Every little detail is meant to stand out. From the river-rock accents set into the ceramic tile floor in the main room, to the wood-beamed ceilings, the hand-painted artwork on the walls, the hand-crafted wood furniture, the tiled table, and the little coffee pots and cups mounted to the plaster wall above the painted-tile countertop and small sink, everything is meant to evoke a sense of art and style. It’s hard not to get a sense of the rustic, no matter which corner you are looking towards.
The bathrooms mirror the style of the main room, with painted tile trim around the mirror and the archway leading into the shower, which in and of itself is a work of art with its blue-and-white adobe tiles and the river-rock floor centered in the middle of it all. The wicker basket with locally-sourced organic toiletries is a nice finishing touch, as apart from that it’s just standard towels and a hair dryer.
Keeping in mind there’s no beach, the balconies instead look out over the interior gardens, and if you’re high enough up, you’ll get a chance to look out over the Playa del Carmen cityscape. It’s not breathtaking by any means, but the sunsets out over the west can be inspiring, especially if you look towards the massive jungles that stretch out beyond PDC towards the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula.
There’s Wi-Fi throughout the property, as well as basic cable, but if there’s one area where we may have a slight complaint is that in a day and age when fiberoptic connections are readily available, Hotel Lunata isn’t quiet up to snuff for those of us who work online for a living, as they are still running a very basic connection meant for single-person use. While the Internet is more than enough for light users who are only checking email and the like (and let’s face it, the majority of their guests aren’t here to work online, but instead spend the bulk of their time on the beach or out on tours), if you plan on doing any uploads of photos or videos taken during the day, you’ll more than likely face a bit of frustration; the more guests they have, the more saturated the connection will be.
Breakfasts are simple fare, taken downstairs in the picnic-table nook area in the main garden. There’s coffee, juice, toast, and waffles, along with sausage and eggs and beans and the like. Where many hotels will try and skimp by simply offering cereal and toast, the Hotel Lunata does a good job with the free breakfast offered in the room rate. There’s an actual staff who prepare things and take their time to keep tables cleaned ahead of other guests. And while it’s a small enough area with only a few tables set up apart from the picnic table, considering there’s only 10 rooms at the hotel there’s very rarely a chance of not finding space, regardless if you are an early riser or enjoy sleeping in.
All in all, it’s a place we will absolutely visit again for a relaxing weekend getaway. It’s centrally located with plenty of restaurants and dining options surrounding for lunch and dinner, the beach is just a few minutes away, the ADO bus station is a mere 10 minutes away on foot for travel throughout the rest of Mexico (or the Yucatan and Riviera Maya), and you can book tours directly with the hotel staff if you want to explore some of the Maya ruins or go cenote-diving during the day. It’s cute, comfortable, and it has everything you need for a few days in Playa del Carmen.