Shambala Petit Hotel

Tulum, The Yucatan, Mexico Book from

Friendly and relaxed Thai-inspired resort, with 10 simple yet stylish cabanas, on a magnificent white powder beach
For most of us, paradise would be something like this. Kilometres of soft, powdery-white beach contrasting with cobalt seas; a relaxed Zen atmosphere without cares and fuss; and Buddhist-inspired décor, including bright orange fluttering flags everywhere. We simply loved Roberto's tranquil and charming place.

Ten cosy but cool cabanas, each distinct from the others, sit in a horsehoe between coconut palms. The position is perfect for swimming, strolling and kayaking, and there are ample opportunities for chilling out on daybeds under white parasols, in hammocks and on cloud nine. The spa on site offers a range of massages, and yoga classes are held daily. Although it's hard to motivate yourself to move much, Roberto arranges amazing tours to Mayan ruins, jungles teeming with life and cenotes (collapsed caves). Nights are wonderful - starcloth heavens, candles everywhere and the sound of waves lulling you to blissful slumber.

Highs

  • There's a warm welcome from Roberto and his team, who look after you from the moment you arrive till you depart - you'll feel as if you're staying with friends
  • The beach is great for lazing and swimming (though the sea can get quite choppy at times)
  • The chic design has stylish Asian influences
  • The atmosphere is peaceful and relaxed - it's hard not to unwind here
  • Room rates are extremely reasonable - but book well in advance

Lows

  • Book early - it's often full!
  • Communication with this hotel can be somewhat casual and erratic
  • It's not for those who expect mod cons - the plumbing is a bit rustic, most cabanas have no plug sockets, and electricity for lights and fans, while theoretically available all day, isn't the most reliable
  • Some rooms are definitely on the 'petit' side
  • Some bathroom areas lack privacy as many of the walls are made from bamboo, and you might experience the odd roof leak if it rains
  • Mosquitoes can be an annoyance at certain times of year

Best time to go

High season is mid-December to April, when it's typically drier and cooler (mid 70sF-mid 80sF). Temperatures and rainfall rise from May to October, with average highs reaching into the 90sF. July, August and September bring the risk of hurricanes.

Our top tips

Bring a torch, sunscreen, insect repellent, a good book or 3, a warm jumper or shawl for the occasional chilly evening, and a map. If you want to use the WiFi, bring a laptop. If you're prepared to go with the laid-back flow you'll love it here - there's a very positive vibe.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10 cabanas
  • Breakfast (+ restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Kayaks
Room:

Rooms

The 10 cosy but cool cabanas vary in size and décor, but each has a high palapa (a traditional Mayan thatched roof), white walls and curtains, a mosquito net-draped bed, and an inspirational slogan printed in bright orange across one wall. Some - Casa Eolo and Casa al Mar - are beautifully placed right on the beach; others have patio areas outside (these offer less privacy as the doors open straight onto the bedroom). Furnishings are simple, with wall hangings and decorative vases adding a subtle Asian influence. There are cosy duvets for chilly nights and ceiling fans for hot tropical evenings.

> See layout of all cabanas (opens in pop-up)

We stayed in Casa Eolo, which has an upper floor with a wooden ladder up to a mezzanine with a double mattress. Casa Que Canta has a similar loft with a single mattress. We found the ladders in these cabanas to be very steep and therefore wouldn’t recommend them for families. Casa Albaba is a lovely second floor room with an ocean view and a bigger bathroom; this, like Eolo, has its own water tank (bottled water is provided in the other cabanas). In the smaller rooms, don't expect to find space for much besides your bed and a bookshelf / wardrobe.

Nine of the cabanas have ensuite bathrooms with walk-in showers and bamboo walls; guests staying in Casa Krishna must use a communal bathroom. Plumbing is a little basic and you might come across the occasional roof leak during heavy downpours, but this all adds to the rustic charm.

Electricity is available 24 hours a day for the lights and fans, but only 2 rooms (Eolo and Albaba) have power outlets for charging phones, using shavers etc, so if this is important to you check when enquiring. Rooms are cleaned daily - look out for a different towel animal creation each night!

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Fan
  • Mosquito net

Eating

Breakfast is included in the price. It's a communal affair served from about 8.30-9.30am (but don't expect on-the-dot timings - you might find yourself hanging around for a bit). A large table is stylishly laid for 16 and here you meet your fellow guests to swap travel tips and stories. If you feel antisocial, then just show up a little late and people will have "paired off", or headed off to the beach. You get a delicious and plentiful selection of fresh fruit, croissants, yoghurts, cereals and jams, washed down with mango juice, tea and lashings of coffee.

Although there's no bar, soft drinks, wine and champagne are all available (at extra cost), and hot water can be provided if you want to make a brew. There are purified water dispensers in the breakfast room and the yoga studio which you can help yourself to.

There's no restaurant on site, but meals can be delivered from nearby eateries: fish tacos, braised shrimp, chicken fajitas, salads, pasta, that sort of thing. We enjoyed tasty food from 100% Natural and Pizza Pazza. Alternatively, head to the restaurant at neighbouring Villa Las Estrellas for delicious ceviche, octopus and paella (make sure you book in advance), or take a cab into Tulum for a wider choice.

If you're organising a wedding, a function or a simple special occasion, catering can be arranged.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Communal dining
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Loll in a hammock with a good book, or top up your tan on one of the huge daybeds or sun loungers

  • Book one of the morning or afternoon yoga classes (Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow or Hatta), each lasting about 90 minutes (a donation is requested)

  • Work up an appetite and stroll along the dazzling white powder beach, or even venture into the surf for a swim - there are a couple of cenotes just off the shoreline

  • Nature lovers can bird-watch from their sun bed

  • The hotel has kayaks and boogie boards to borrow, and kitesurfing and windsurfing can be arranged

  • Explore the nearby Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve with its lush jungle and chain of lagoons - full day trips start at 9am (see Rates for details)

  • Check out the world famous Mayan ruins at Tulum, Coba and Muyil; Roberto organises tours daily leaving at 7am - either he or one of his colleagues goes with you

  • Horse-riding can be booked at Playa del Carmen (just over an hour away), and you can ride through the Tulum ruins

  • Cenotes abound: snorkel or dive into these spectacular sink holes, or sign up for the 'cavern tour' arranged in tandem with a local dive shop (open water divers only)

  • Spanish language courses are also available, lasting from 1 to 8 weeks; or you can learn traditional Mexican recipes from a local grandmother (a minimum of 10 people are required for the class)

  • If you visit from January to March, look out for grey whales near Holbox Island

  • And in August check out the Jazz festival

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Kitesurfing
  • Language courses
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Whalewatching
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

Children are welcome here, but it's not ideal for younger ones. The only cabanas big enough to accommodate extra people are those with lofts, but but the steep ladders make them unsuitable for children. Cots and babysitting are available on request.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Family Rooms

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

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