Smart Stay by

Hotel Esencia

by Lauren Dana Ellman
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Esencia
by Lauren Dana Ellman
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Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Esencia
by Lauren Dana Ellman
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Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Esencia
by Lauren Dana Ellman
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Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Esencia
by Lauren Dana Ellman
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Mexico’s Riviera Maya region is famous for its clear-blue waters, powdery white sands, ancient ruins, and sprawling beachfront resorts. While the destination is home to dozens of big-name all-inclusive resorts, they’re not the only option. In fact, those craving a more boutique stay should book a room at the Hotel Esencia, a lavish property that was once the vacation villa of an Italian duchess, and is especially beloved by celebrities and fashion insiders.

What You Need to Know

The Look of Hotel Esencia

It's All in the Details

Ideally situated between the jungle and the beach, Hotel Esencia is spread across 50 acres, which includes an unspoiled stretch of sand (a rarity in this often crowded vacation destination). The hacienda-style Main House is flanked by palm trees and manicured gardens where colorful peacocks roam free. Thanks to incredible contemporary artwork and sleek, modern furnishings, the interior is equally stunning. Common areas feature bright white walls, sleek, dark-hued seating, and pops of color in the form of fresh flowers and greenery. Overlooking the ocean is a sparkling swimming pool that’s surrounded by plush chaises topped with cheery yellow throw pillows — setting the scene for an escape that’s as scenic as it is relaxing.

The property comprises a collection of suites and villas, along with an extravagant 10,000-square-foot mansion (complete with a private cinema and its own speakeasy!). Select units have bonus features like postcard-worthy ocean views, double bathtubs, private pools, and private terraces; a handful are also within steps of the beach. All accommodations boast a beachy-chic aesthetic and tropical flora accents that bring the outdoors in.

The Vibe at Hotel Esencia

Swanky but not stuffy. Due to its small size, this boutique hotel has an intimate vibe, and the staff is warm and welcoming, always going out of their way to cater to visitors’ every need. The three open-air eateries and three bars (one for drinks, one for coffee, and one for juice) are popular spots to see and be seen. 

Who Will Love Hotel Esencia 

Couples and adult travelers seeking an idyllic oceanfront escape that feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Tulum and Playa del Carmen will love it here. Anyone with an affinity for design-forward, non-cookie-cutter hotels will be happy here, too.  

Who Might Not Love Hotel Esencia 

The tranquil vibe may be a turn-off for travelers searching for nightlife and entertainment. Here, the main attractions are the sun, sand, and spa. Also, while the property offers an abundance of activities and amenities, there is no kids club or children's programming. With all this in mind, families may choose to stay elsewhere. 

Lastly, it's worth noting that the property is not all-inclusive, so it’s not for those seeking a resort that folds meals, activities, and lodging into one single rate.

Best Amenity at Hotel Esencia

Picking the best amenity here is nearly impossible, but if narrowed down to just one, we’d say the enchanting spa. Housed under a thatched palapa, the open-air space features plenty of lush greenery plus hot tubs for soaking in style. Services such as temazcal ceremonies (a traditional healing practice that involves a sweat lodge) and cocoa and coffee treatments use locally grown ingredients and are inspired by ancient Mayan culture. 

Other honorable mentions include the on-site cenote and complimentary non-motorized water sports. 

Money Matters

What’s Included at Hotel Esencia

Your stay includes all of the following: 

Fees & Extra Costs You Should Know About at Hotel Esencia

A 15% service charge is added to your stay’s total.

How to Get a Deal at Hotel Esencia 

Your best bet is booking a stay during Riviera Maya’s off-season or shoulder season — more on that below!

The Sweet Season

Riviera Maya’s shoulder seasons (April, May, November, and December, excluding Christmas week) offer great weather, fewer crowds, and lower rates on lodging.  Keep in mind that hurricane season lasts from June through November, peaking in September or October. 

Getting There

In the Neighborhood of Hotel Esencia 

The property is located in the scenic albeit sleepy town of Xpu Ha, which is best known for its unspoiled stretches of sand. It’s also considered the halfway point between Tulum and Playa del Carmen.

Nearest Airport to Hotel Esencia 

Cancun International Airport is about 48 miles from the property. 

Nearest Public Transportation to Hotel Esencia 

While there’s no public transportation, the hotel can arrange luxury car transfers to and from the airport for an additional cost. A private helicopter service can also be arranged if that’s more your speed. 

The Bottom Line

With its super stylish accommodations, trendy restaurants, holistic spa, and stunning natural landscapes (from the manicured gardens to the private cenote!), Hotel Esencia is one of the most unique — and extraordinary — places to stay in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.

It's All in the Details