You know those folks that say “Where I stay on vacation isn’t important, I’m just sleeping there.” Well, that’s not me. I’m actually the complete opposite, especially on vacation. I’m the person who’s looking for a unique and/or luxurious experience. So when I was planning to visit a friend who had temporarily moved to Tulum, Mexico and she sent me a link to stay in the same hostel as her, I was a bit concerned. I envisioned the traditional hostel with dormitories filled with 20-something backpackers. But after taking a look at the website, Mayan Monkey, and the reviews, I quickly realized that this was not your average hostel – this was more of a luxury hostel.
My Nonnegotiable: A Private Room
As a wife and mom of twin two-year-old boys, the last thing I wanted to do on vacation was to share my space with someone, especially strangers. I was relieved when I saw that they offered private rooms with an ensuite bathroom.
I was pleasantly surprised upon entering my private room. It was nicely decorated and very clean. It offered a comfy king size bed, a nice sized flat screen tv, dresser, and clothing rack. The bathroom shower was pretty sizable and well maintained. Although the room itself did not feel luxurious, I felt extremely comfortable. The only amenity I wished it had was a window that faced outside. The window that was in the room technically did face outside, towards the open-air hallways within the hostel. This allowed for sunlight to come into the room but the view was a hallway and everyone who walked past could look into your room; thus, prompting me to keep the shade closed.
When most people think of hostels, they think of dormitories or shared rooms. This is the bulk of the room options available at this hostel: an eight bunk co-ed dorm, a twelve bunk female dorm, and a twelve bunk co-ed dorm. The beds are set up bunk bed style with a lamp, a shelf to place some of your belongings, and a privacy curtain. Similar to the private rooms, each dormitory features an ensuite bathroom with two showers and two toilets, in addition to lockers for storage.
I had the opportunity to go inside one of the twelve bunk co-ed dorms and it was very nice and clean. If you’re open to the idea of sharing space with others, probably not a light sleeper, and social, you should consider giving a shared room a try.
The beautiful scenery of their outdoor pool and bar area is what made me think of a “luxury hostel” as it could compete with a lot of the hotels within the luxurious hotel zone of Tulum. It offered three levels of seating that gave view to the pool, including swings at the bar, lounge chairs near the pool, and benches with comfy colored cushions. Let’s just say this was the perfect backdrop to make you feel like you were on vacation.
Restaurant and Bar
Continental breakfast is included with the cost of the stay. If you’re into toast, granola, fruit, and yogurt, then this is the breakfast for you. I’m more of a warm breakfast type of girl so I was glad that they offered breakfast upgrades for $5. You could choose an upgrade of chilaquiles, eggs, or pancakes. Compared to the price of breakfast at most hotels, this was a steal!
The restaurant and bar was pretty much open all day, from around 11AM to 11PM. I was so happy to have a place to grab food and drink for the moments that I didn’t want to wander outside of the hostel. In fact, I ended up spending most of my evenings sitting in their lounge, listening to music, and chatting with others.
If you plan to slow travel or stay at the hostel for an extended period of time, I can see how you would want lodging with a kitchen so that you’re not eating out and paying for each of your meals. The kitchen has two refrigerators, a microwave, and one hot plate to cook on. Of course, you are leaving your food at your own risk as everyone has access to the food that is left in the kitchen. I did hear someone mention how their food had “disappeared” from one of the refrigerators.
For those who are working virtually and don’t necessarily want to work from their bed, they have two areas downstairs that lend very well to working. One is an open area with benches while the other is closed off in case you don’t want to get distracted by the music that is played most of the day.
There is a laundry room on site with coin operated washers and dryers.
I was shocked at how affordable it was to stay here, especially compared to a hotel or Airbnb. My stay in a private room cost me less than $60 per night, including taxes. Please note that the nightly cost is per person. Therefore, if my husband would have joined, it would have been closer to $120 per night. A private room has the maximum occupancy of 2 people.
The shared rooms are where you can save a lot of money on housing. Nightly rates range from $11-$16 per person! In addition, they offer discounts for extended stays, from 15-20% off depending on how long you stay. Honestly, the price point of a shared room makes it pretty attractive, especially for a longer stay.
I must admit, I was very impressed with the cleanliness and decor of the rooms and outside area which gave a luxury hostel feel. There was never a moment that I felt uncomfortable and wished that I was at a regular hotel. I must note that they do play music in the outside area for most of the day, past their 10:30PM quiet time. My room was located relatively close; therefore, I could hear the beat of the music in my room. It did not bother me, but I could sleep through a hurricane.
Hostels have the reputation of being for the 20-something backpacker. Based on my experience, this is a myth. Yes, there were some 20-something backpackers but there were also folks in their 30’s, 40’s and potentially 50’s. As a 36 year old mom, I didn’t feel out of place as if they only catered to the super young.
My main concern with this hostel was the security of my belongings or feeling like I might get caught in a scam. There had been a few reviews from folks who stayed in private rooms that said items in their safety box went missing. To avoid this from happening, I did not use the room’s safety box. Instead I hid my valuables inconspicuously within my luggage. Another option is a Book Safe with combination lock. It looks like a book from the outside but it is actually a safe.
Fortunately, I did not have any negative experiences. However, while I was there one of the other guests complained about the hostel making him pay $100 for them to return his passport. The passport was used as a deposit for a bike rental that they claimed he did not return. All of this to say, with any lodging, be sure to read the reviews to get an idea of where things could go wrong.
Would I Stay at Another Hostel
Indeed, I would be open to staying at another luxury hostel- one that offers a private room, ensuite bathroom, restaurant and an amazing ambience. This is especially true for my mom-cations as I normally try to keep them as budget friendly as possible. As with any time that I travel solo, I will read the reviews and be selective. Hostel World and Hostel Bookers are great websites to compare hostels and read reviews.
For those who I have not convinced to give a hostel a try, you can find tips on how to find the best hotel deals, here.