We arrived in Tulum one balmy evening following quite a long flight and the most surreal passport experience ever (there wasn't a queue so much as a sea of people trying to get through to a police official... I had of course decided to arrive on Spring Week! Thankfully most people headed to the monstruous resorts around Cancun after the airport, whilst we were driven down a bit further to the thin land strip that is Tulum).
Our hotel, Sanará, was neither the largest nor the cheapest, but it promised a retreat away from the stresses of urban life and the most beautiful setting, and it didn't disappoint: minimalist boho decor with raw wood and brushed cement everywhere, and a bare feet in the sand experience starting at the end of the reception counter. I had arrived in my kind of heaven.
I was with Nadine, aka the best Pilates trainer cum dear friend, and we were pretty floored by the minimal room, which left me quite inspired for our new house (more on that in a few weeks) but what really killed it was the view from our balcony the next morning. Basically it gave us front row seats to the most glorious sunrise I've seen in a long time. Every morning I made sure I was up early enough to walk down the beach and admire the sunrise and its ballet of fishing pelicans.
Before I met the Tulum sunrise though, the main reason I'd chosen Sanará as a base was the yoga room. Honestly, if the practice room at my London studio had a view this spectacular, I'd never want to leave... There are three classes a day at Sanará, led by a mix of instructors (I tried a class with most of the ones on the current schedule, and they were all pretty good and inspiring, with the exception of my Saturday 5PM class, which was taught by a very grumpy and authoritarian instructor... making me wish I'd stayed on the beach and stuck to just one class a day...in fact my shoulder is still sore from her trying to force me down on chaturanga.. thanks!), and you get to practice yoga listening to the waves of the Caribbean sea crashing on the beach, and looking out on to the turquoise waters. In the morning the sun shines directly into the room, adding some extra warmth to the Power Yoga class on Monday morning! My favourite class hands down was Eva's on Saturday morning, combining some seriously challenging flow with a wicked sense of humour and the most gorgeous yoga teacher I've met in ages (in fact she made me wonder if I should cut my hair short!). The class was packed by the way so I can't be the only one thinking Eva is fabulous.
The other thing I'd been looking forwards to Sanará? The in house restaurant, The Real Coconut, which offers fresh healthy food with a focus on wellness, plant based recipes, and fantastic taste-packed dishes. Before you look at the menu, you are struck once more by the beautiful simplicity of the decor, pretty much on par with the coolest hang-outs in NY and London. The breakfast here is to die for, especially if you sit on the sea-facing terrace, but do pack on the SPF50 sunscreen when you do, as the sun is super strong even at 8AM!
My favourite of the week were the coconut flour pancakes, and the delicious Easy Green smoothie, but the french press coffee was pretty good as well! We tasted their omelette and cereal bowls, and they were all very special... but the pancakes, oh the pancakes! You must have them!
Sanará also has a spa, which had some very tempting treatments and an adorable receptionist, but the cabins looked very much like a lot I'd seen before and the European lady who appeared to be the lead therapist had some serious resting b*tch face case going on, which made us look into other options. That's when we came across Yaan Wellness Energy Spa, just opposite the Be Tulum hotel (more on that further down), and with their treatment cabins on stilts in the middle of the jungle garden and the very cool water circuit it sounded a little more special, so we tried it. Following a little tour of the water circuit (explaining the bikini picture of me being
Most days though we stayed around the beach after morning yoga, and enjoyed having no cares at all beyond whether to read or swim, and whether to get our lunch snacks delivered from The Real Coconut or walking over to next door's La Zebra and The Mulberry Project beach bar for something more fun and live music... The Real Coconut won for fabulous herb-infused cocktails (and mocktails for when we were feeling virtuous!) and some pretty awesome guacamole and hands down the best tortillas I've had in my (ahem very young) life. The nice cream smoothies, all coconut milk based, are simply divine... like a dessert only far healthier!
We did walk over the La Zebra's beach a couple of times, where the pop-up Mulberry Project bar offered totally bespoke cocktails (can I recommend: rhum, coconut, lychee with a tropical twist?) and the kitchen served a mean ceviche, meaning we spent some pretty magical hours sitting on the other side of Sanará's beach listening to the live music. They have the cutest little fishing boats with cushions for a fun take on beach seating. Earlier in our stay we also walked all the way to CoCo Tulum, which has a fabulous beach bar with the cutest swings overlooking the sea. Overall, most hotels lining the beach offer a great fare of cocktails and Mexican dishes and are very welcoming to outside clients, so if you're going I can only recommend mixing it up!
Another such place is Be Tulum, one the of the higher rated hotels towards the end of the Tulum hotel strip. In fact I had initially planned to spend a couple of nights here alone before Nadine's arrival but they messed up my booking and I had to shorten my trip in the end... So. their reservation team isn't great, but that doesn't mean anything about the place per se, as I only walked by (although we noticed some pretty heavy building works just next to the jungle rooms so that has to be a bit disruptive) and I'm thinking this might be a nice place to come back with the family.
We had a wonderful breakfast here one morning when I came out of yoga screaming for eggs, and god these people serve a mean omelette... and their juices... to die for! Make sure you visit for breakfast even if you're staying somewhere else!
But hands down, my favourite place for breakfast was the Raw Love Café within Ahau Tulum. Raw (I know, surprising), vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free recipes galore. We had the most amazing smoothie bowls here, packed with fruits, cereals and nuts... This is were we developed our only addiction of the week: not prawn mole tacos, not basil infused mojitos, but the most incredible iced chai latte I've had, ever! In fact, I can't wait to try to replicate it at home...
We tried a number of places for dinner... although we gave the legendary and obviously over-hyped Hartwood a wide berth. According to the concierge at Sanará the famed place hadn't answered email bookings in over three months... As someone who'd come here looking to leave stress behind, stressing over dinner was just not an option.
Instead, we sampled Kitchen Table (delicious, inventive and fabulous service), Nômade (sit in Macondo's magical berber inspired lounge area and order from both the vegan and non vegan menus, and try the cocktails!), and of course the Tulum legend that is Posada Margherita (you guessed it, Italian, of the amazing variety, served by some pretty lust-worthy staff, as you'd expect).
There are loads of little boutiques lining the beach road in Tulum, all selling a similar assortment of pared-down swimwear, boho dresses, and barely there (but oh so pricey!) jewellery. My favourite was around the MurMur bar, although the most unique place was KM33 and its walls of fabulous Allpa Hats.
Feeling tempted? Check out a curated list of Tulum's best boutique hotel picks on Mr And Mrs Smith.