Villa las Estrellas

Tulum, The Yucatan, Mexico Book from Book from £236 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 14 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 - 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 you'll know about it. It's also devoid of mod cons, 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 shrimp tacos; 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

  • There have been lots of changes since we last visited so we haven't seen the newer rooms
  • Recent guest feedback suggests service and maintenance has gone downhill
  • 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 need to use their special biodegradable toiletries, and extra beds don't have mosquito nets
  • The water pressure can be low if too many people are showering at the same time
  • Breakfasts are rather meagre: a plate of 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. 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
  • 14
  • 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:

Rooms

There are 7 rooms in the main building and 7 in separate cabanas. They’re all thoroughly beach chic in style, with thatched roofs and private balconies strung with hammocks just made for drinking Corona in.

Of the rooms in the main house, our favourites are the 2 Upper Floor Deluxe Ocean Fronts (rooms 3 and 6). They are both big with the best sea views - particularly room 3 - and large balconies with hammocks plus tables and chairs. They have a minimalist approach to furnishings (which means a lack of storage space - pack light!).

The Ground Floor Deluxe Ocean Fronts (rooms 1 and 2) are similar, but with not such good views. The Ocean View Junior Suites (Rooms 4 and 5) are the smallest, with a smaller terrace and no daybed, but you get full-on sea views and high ceilings thanks to the Mayan-style pitched palapa roof. They sit above the large Honeymoon Master Suite, which has a Jacuzzi, a hammock and direct beach access.

The 7 cabanas are new since our visit, each set in private gardens by the beach. The rooms are the same in style to those in the main house, but offer a little more privacy and space. There are 3 Junior Suites - 1 with a pool view and the others with garden views - and 4 plush Suites - 3 of which (Master Suites) gaze out towards the ocean and can sleep up to 5.

All rooms have mosquito-netted windows, air-conditioning and floor fans (no ceiling fans); guests staying in a Master Suite will find additional treats in the form of Nespresso machines, 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 need to use the special biodegrable toiletries provided, and extra mosquito nets are not provided if you've got extra beds set up for little ones.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • 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.

The cuisine is a fusion of Mexican and Italian fare. We enjoyed delicious ceviche and crunchy octopus, 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). Lunch might include ceviche tostadas, shrimp tacos, tuna carpaccio, and pasta options. 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) from the menu. 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 Master Suites have the most space for families, as each comes with a kingsize bed and 2 single beds (with space for an additional bed, too). Rooms 1, 2, 3 and 6 (Deluxe rooms) have kangaroo beds for 2 children. Those with young children may prefer a ground-floor room (Deluxe 1 and 2) because of the steps and the high terrace.

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:

Location

Villa las Estrellas is midway along the beach at Tulum in the Yucatan Peninsula, about 2 hours by car from Cancún airport.

By Air:
The closest airport is Cancun International (120km). There are direct flights from the UK (10 hours) and the US (4 hours from New York). Alternatively, you can take an internal flight from Mexico City to Cancún.

From the Airport
The hotel can arrange transfers. There are also regular daily buses from Cancún airport to Playa del Carmen, which take about 45 minutes; from there, you can take a cab.

By Car:
If you'd prefer to self-drive and want to hire a car, see our car rental recommendations. There's free parking at the hotel.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Cancún 120.0 km CUN

Other:

  • Beach 0.1 km
  • Shops 0.2 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

7/10
Room
8/10
Food
7/10
Service
6/10
Value
7/10
Overall

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