Villa las Estrellas

Tulum, The Yucatan, Mexico Book from Book from £156 per night

Beautiful hotel on Tulum beach with idyllic sea views; well-designed simplicity at its best
With white linen curtains blowing in the breeze, enormous hammocks swaying on private terraces and blue, blue water just metres away, Villa las Estrellas is the epitome of barefoot chic. Set in the middle of Tulum's broad white-sand stretch, this romantic beach house couldn't be better placed for a relaxing holiday. And although the number of buzzy cabana hotels lining the beach increases every year, Tulum's vibe remains lovely and laid-back.

At Villa las Estrellas you'll find a fantastic restaurant and 9 stylish, minimalist rooms under traditional Mayan palapa roofs; there's also a pool and shaded lounging area hidden in the garden. It has the feel of a private home, with loads of space and beautiful furnishings throughout - four-poster beds, mosaicked tables, white-wood lanterns. As with everything, if you look a little closer it isn't perfect. Much of your stay here will depend on other guests - if they smoke or talk loudly or have heavy feet, you'll know about it. It's also devoid of mod cons (no phones, TV, limited WiFi), though that's half the point. But it's immaculately clean throughout and with celebrities booking it out for Christmas, we're clearly not the only ones with stars - estrellas - in our eyes.

Highs

  • Simple but stylish and beautifully designed
  • The location: amazing, uninterrupted sea views, and being able to walk straight out from the hotel onto that magnificent white-sand beach
  • The restaurant offers tasty treats such as ceviche, guacamole and paella; there are also lots of great restaurants within walking distance
  • Smaller than most hotels in the area, so has more of a charming, intimate feel
  • Watching pelicans fly by in formation every morning

Lows

  • Recent guest feedback suggests service and maintenance has gone downhill (and there's no management staff on site); we're keeping a close eye on this
  • Though kids are welcome, the place is not really designed for families
  • Rooms vary in size, and some are directly above the bar so you may hear the music, but it winds down at 10pm
  • It's pricey, but you’re paying for the position and the intimate size
  • Be aware that you can't flush toilet paper down the loos, you can't drink the tap water, and extra beds don't have mosquito nets
  • Breakfasts are rather meagre: fruit and pastries, but not much more

Best time to go

Tulum is a year-round destination, although you might want to avoid hurricane season (they can hit any time from June to October) - seaweed can also be an issue during this time. It's sunniest here in March and April; turtles come to lay eggs in July and August, which hatch in September.

Our top tips

  • Do some research online before you go if you're keen to join an organised tour round the Mayan ruins, or learn to dive before you head out here. The internet connection is slow in the hotel and they don't run any organised tours from the property yet
  • Swipe an eye mask from your airline on the way in - the sheer curtains make it hard to sleep once the sun's come up

Great for...

Beach
Family
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • Beach Hotel
  • 9
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Deluxe Room

Rooms

There are 6 rooms in the main building and 3 suites in separate cabanas. They’re all thoroughly beach chic in style, their private balconies strung with hammocks just made for drinking Corona in.

Of the rooms, our favourite is the glorious room 3. It’s huge, with the best sea view and a large balcony with an enormous hammock plus a table and chairs. It has a romantic linen-curtained four-poster bed, polished plaster walls, a minimalist approach to furnishings (which means a lack of storage space - pack light!), a daybed, and a roomy bathroom with a shower. Room 6 is our second favourite, a mirror image of room 3 but with a slightly less amazing sea view.

Rooms 1 and 2 are on the ground floor; they have a four-poster bed and an additional single bed for kids. But with room 1 right next to the kitchen, unwelcome noise does travel, and you may hear people overhead. Rooms 4 and 5 are the smallest, with a smaller terrace and no daybed. They’re on the first floor above the bar (so you may hear music), but you get full-on sea views and high ceilings thanks to the Mayan-style pitched palapa roof.

The self-contained suites, built since our visit, are set in private gardens by the beach. They’re similar in style to the rooms, but offer a little more privacy and space. Each has a kingsize four-poster bed and 2 single beds (ideal for families), plus a shower bathroom and a sofa’d terrace facing the sea.

All rooms have mosquito-netted windows and floor fans (no ceiling fans), and you get a couple of free bottles of mineral water every day; guests staying in a suite will find additional treats in the form of fresh flowers, sweets and a bottle of Prosecco on arrival. But be aware of a few things: you can’t flush paper down the toilets, the showers take a while to warm up and aren't power showers, you can't drink the tap water, there's no air con, and extra mosquito nets are not provided if you've got extra beds set up for little ones.

Features include:

  • Beach towels
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Mosquito panels on windows
  • Music player connected to the hotel's music system
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Estrellas' food is one of its main draws. The chef has a fantastic eye so his dishes arrive looking as good as they taste. Hence the lovely restaurant is popular with outside guests, too.

We enjoyed delicious ceviche, crunchy octopus and a signature paella dish, plus the best guacamole this reviewer could find in Tulum. The bar offers great pina coladas and margharitas (you get a free one on arrival, for booking through i-escape). There isn't a more snacky option for lunch, which is a shame, but you may be offered some amuses bouches free of charge. Should you want a change of scene, Estrellas is walking distance from plenty of other eateries, all serving similar menus at similar prices.

Breakfast is simpler: expect juice, seasonal fruit and pastries, plus the option of cooked dishes such as huevos rancheros (extra cost). It is served from around 8am, so if you wake up at 6am with the sunshine - as you might thanks to the sheer curtains - you'll have to wait, or look for an early rising café on the beach.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Do nothing. Just hang out in your hammock, make use of the comfy beach loungers, take a dip in the pool, and read a book. It's bliss
  • Go swimming in the sea. The waves are rolling rather than gently lapping, and there's a slight undertow, but confident swimmers will be fine
  • Arrange kitesurfing lessons at reception; the hotel runs a school from the beach, so it couldn't be easier!
  • Or ask about going horse riding on the Yaxmuul horse trail, where you'll find beautiful rock formations and natural pools
  • Head next door to Shambala Petit Hotel for a 90-minute morning or afternoon yoga class (donation required)
  • Walk to Ziggy's Bistro for happy-hour cocktails, which happily run all day long
  • Visit Tulum's famous pre-Columbian Mayan ruins, and take your costume for the lovely swimming spot in front of them
  • Swim in the cenotes. These natural freshwater pools have underwater caves and are great for snorkelling. There are a couple just off the shoreline
  • From Jan-March, you can whale watch near Holbox Island. And from July-September, turtles hatch on the beach outside the hotel

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Jazz
  • Kitesurfing
  • Language courses
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Turtle hatching
  • Well being
  • Whale watching
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

Estrellas is child-friendly (the owners have a young family) but there isn't much to speak of in the way of equipment bar baby cots and extra beds. Note that not many places in Tulum accept kids, so Estrellas is more geared up than most. Children under 3 stay for free.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The 3 suites have the most space for families, as each comes with a kingsize bed and 2 single beds. Rooms 1, 2, 3 and 6 have 1 extra bed. Those with young children may prefer a ground-floor room (1 and 2) because of the steps and the high terrace; sound carries though, so beware!

Kids Activities nearby:

Older kids and teenagers will enjoy Tulum's watersports, investigating ruins and just about everything else on offer in the area.

Families Should Know:

The sea can be rough on this beach - it's not a gently shelving beach that suits toddlers or underconfident swimmers.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

7/10
Room
9/10
Food
7/10
Service
7/10
Value
7/10
Overall

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Rates for Villa las Estrellas