Our stay at Habitas Tulum began with the warmest of greetings as we were invited to sit cross-legged beside a firepit in the reception for a Welcome Ceremony. As the concierge lit a handful of copal, a sweet and smoky incense traditionally used in Mayan rituals, we privately offered our personal intentions for our stay.
Before we lose the more pragmatic amongst you, this isn’t as new age as it sounds and feels more like a fitting introduction to Mayan culture. Something that is proudly embedded within Habitas Tulum’s DNA.
Still not convinced? Don’t be too hasty. The beauty of this Mexican eco-destination is that it can be whatever you want it to be. More in the market for a chic beach vacation? Stretch out on a cabana with a freshly-squeezed juice or expertly-mixed cocktail. Want to indulge in delicious candle-lit dinners surrounded by friends and family? You will not be disappointed.
Stylish, but relaxed enough to be in keeping with Tulum’s hippy-chic vibe, this adults-only boutique hotel offers a laid-back alternative to the flashy five-star resorts found in neighboring Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Located on an acre of land positioned between the jungle and sea, the hotel (or ‘home’ as Habitas likes to refer to it) opened in 2017, initially as a temporary pop-up. Habitas Tulum’s three entrepreneurial co-founders drew their inspiration from, amongst other things, the communal togetherness of the Burning Man Festival to create a new breed of hotel. It proved so successful it stayed.
The Tulum flagship has since given rise to new ‘homes’ in Morocco, Namibia and Saudi Arabia, with a second Mexican property recently opening 130 miles south of Tulum in Bacalar. Future openings are planned for Bhutan and Costa Rica, all of which are using Habitas Tulum as their blueprint.
Built using modular, light-touch construction, the hotel is designed to have minimum impact on the environment. Don’t be surprised if you have a tree in the middle of your bathroom with much of the area’s flora remaining untouched.
Dotted with hammocks, reclaimed wood furniture and even more pretty rugs, 35 rooms are centered around a three-story glass and steel clubhouse which houses the acclaimed restaurant Moro. Drawing an eclectic crowd, live music and DJs provide the backdrop to the balmy evenings as guests dressed in Dior and Balenciaga harmoniously rub shoulders with those in flowy yoga pants.
This intimate-feeling eco-retreat offers four options, all of which are standalone meaning extra privacy. Akin to a luxury safari tent, each is perched on an elevated wood platform and features a natural palpa roof and neutral-hued canvas walls.
Keeping the nature theme going, every room features an outdoor bathroom. Now, we are all for connecting with the great outdoors but is an external toilet one step too far? At Habitas Tulum, it works. Private and discreet, all boast rainforest showers with locally-made organic toiletries concocted from honey and coconut which makes lathering up in the morning extra sweet.
We recommend selecting an Ocean Front Room which gives you the chance to wake with the Caribbean Sea literally on your doorstep. If you’d prefer to be tucked away under the lush canopy of the jungle, the larger Pool Room will afford you your own private plunge pool to cool off and a generous 8,600 sq ft of private space. Added bonus: you can still hear the crashing of the waves from the comfort of your plush white bedsheets.
Since its conception, Habitas Tulum’s on-site eatery Moro has held its place as one of the best restaurants in Tulum. Moro’s menu is a fusion of traditional Mexican techniques and Middle Eastern influences. The result is a creative roster of deliciously flavorsome dishes at breakfast, lunch and dinner that will suit vegans and meat-eaters alike.
A lunchtime must is the Grilled skirt steak tacos with avocado mousse, charred onions and serrano pepper sauce. At dinner start with the Beet hummus infused with Za’atar and extra virgin olive oil, scooped up with homemade naan.
At dinner, Campeche shrimp in a coconut and saffron infusion or the Iron-skillet octopus with sweet pepper sauce are both highly recommended. And you will not regret a side order of Spiced carrots dressed in tahini, pomegranate, and a ginger and mandarin reduction.
The drinks menu is equally impressive, with an array of craft cocktails, elixirs and smoothies like the Coba cacao, offering a nourishing blend of organic cacao, banana, dates, cinnamon and almond milk.
Habitas Tulum’s herb garden supplies the kitchen (as well as the bar and the spa). The rest of Moro’s ingredients are sourced locally from trusted suppliers. For example, the honey in your elixir is produced by the family of one of Moro’s waiters who keeps beehives.
Wellbeing is a key focus at Habitas Tulum and is delivered in two ways: the spa and an extensive program of wellness classes and experiences.
Hidden away in its own enclave amongst the foliage is the hotel’s outdoor spa. Aromatic copal burns alongside twinkling candles leading to two treatment rooms and a jungle shower. The spa’s holistic therapies draw inspiration from Mayan heritage. Signature offerings include the detoxifying Tierra Maya treatment which uses clay and honey to rejuvenate the skin.
A daily schedule of expert-led yoga (everything from Creative Vinyasa to Yin incorporating Chinese medicine) and meditation are available to all guests and are included as part of your stay. If you get a chance, the beachside Elemental Blessing offers a unique chance to immerse yourself in Mayan spiritual traditions whilst relieving stress.
As well as a vibrant nightlife, Tulum and the wider Yucatan Peninsula is rich in both nature and culture. The Habitas front-desk team are on hand to arrange private excursions to help you make the most of this unique region.
The nearby Tulum Archaeological Zone is home to the ruins of one of the last inhabited Mayan cities and is an essential stop on your itinerary. Further afield Is the Unesco World Heritage site of Chichen-Itza, a sprawling ancient Mayan site considered to be amongst one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Adventure-seekers can indulge in a spot of cave diving and cenote snorkeling, while nature lovers should look no further than Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an. Translating to “origin of the sky” in Maya, the area boasts one of the most diverse ecosystems in the Americas. Encompassing a barrier reef, lagoons, pristine beaches and savannahs, it plays host to everything from spider monkeys and jaguars to four species of sea turtle and over 300 species of birds.
Ocean Front Room at Habitas Tulum from $550 per night. Contact +52 984 147, ourhabitas.com/tulum