The Piedre de Agua Hotel in Merida has cute little rooms with the tiniest bathrooms ever! If you find yourself in Merida and need a well priced, central located and comfortable bed look no further. The staff was kind and helpful, as they are pretty much every where in Mexico. The Piedre de Agua is conveniently located a half block from the main square and is surrounded by colonial churches and is an easy walk to the hand crafts market.
There is courtyard dining area, as well as a lovely back patio with swimming pool and bar. Most importantly Piedre de Agua is around the corner from Las Quekas!
Tulum itself is a much chiller place then we expected after hearing it’s name for years in travel circles. It is the essence of hippy-chic with a lovely variety of hotels and restaurants; none of which cross into pretension or put you off. We stopped into many for a look at the rooms, grounds and menu.
Be Tulum is one of the more boutique of the hotels along the jungle road that is the main drag of Tulum. An impressive gateway led through to a luxurious garden, full of green palms and hanging candles. A winding footpath crawled its way towards the ocean, past a series of two story bungalows, each room with a very small private pool.
Here one runs into the only problem with Tulum. As it is prime vacation territory, the ocean-front lots can be a bit small, and in the case of Be Tulum a bit overbuilt. A few less bungalows and a even just 2 meters more buffer between the path and the rooms would give the privacy one wants for the price-tag.
At the end of the path, lies the main pool, bar and dining area. Definitely among the the most stylish of all the hotel bars in the area, it was well adorned with design furniture and a fashionable crown of good-looking adults. The menu looked tasty, if not overwhelmingly Mexican, being mostly sushi and ceviches; but with El Tábano up the street your not far from your gastronomic fix . The beach as always in Tulum is of wonderfully fine sand and blue water, if a bit narrow and public.
If you are looking for a place that is out of the bikini-catalog, I think Be Tulum could be it.
After a slightly elongated trip, we rented a Smart Cabriolet (TINY!) and made a sun drenched bee-line to Playa del Carmen and the Hotel Viceroy to check out its design and have a quick lunch. After so many months of eating in Bogota with its fear based cuisine, what a complete joy to arrive in Mexico, where the chefs are not afraid of flavor!!
The Viceroy hotel is quite fab, nestled within a lush garden and paths describing circuitous routes between palms and flowers. As we navigated our way, guided by the lovely Fernando, to the beach-front dining area, we saw a mid-size iguana and a basilisk (water-walking lizard) – though only very very briefly before it flicked out of existence! Each room is a private cabaña with a garden whirlpool, luxurious bed, and a quite ample bathroom, including both an indoor and outdoor showers. The design is clean and poignant without being overbearing. It allowed for a relaxing atmosphere; you are the star of the show, not the hotel. The spa is extremely organic and well appointed, complete with energy capturing spiral ha-mam and a brazier of copal, a highly fragrant per-coloumbian incense used by the Mayas. The patio restaurant used for breakfast and lunch, is about twenty meters off the sea. This was the perfect introduction to the fabled Mayan Riviera as we gazed into the blue blue waters and at the attractive clientele.
We started our first meal with two Michelada’s. A Mexican favorite of beer poured with a house mix that always includes lemon juice and a salted rim. Every bar-tender also makes their own special blend, with many being sort of a beer bloody-mary. At the Viceroy, it was a mix of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco and a local condiment called Magi (though I’m still not exactly sure what Magi is!). The Michelada is the perfect drink for hot weather, cool and refreshing; comforting and exotic! Our rapidly condensing chilled mugs were accompanied by an order of Guacamole & lightly fried Totopos (Chips). The guac had a bit of the soft white fresh cheese and the strong herb epazote. It was mashed to a perfect consistently; creamy while maintaining some chunkiness and body. Top place at the table was given to the picante: a beautiful roasted green tomatillo salsa that put the perfect tart-pepper touch onto the tongue.
We were then presented with 3 absolutely perfect fire-grilled fish tacos. The fish, common to the Caribbean, was Robalo (Sea Bass) and felt very, very fresh. Combined with mango, shallot and cabbage , while being served with habanero aioli, the tacos proved perfect vessels for the other salsas. Now, along with the fired tomatillo, we had a smooth non-spicy tomato based salsa along with another based on a chili called Xcatic.
Next came a true first in life: Molcajete, a volcanic mortar that had been baked in the fiery wood burning oven in which is a stew is served. We ordered the vegetarian version of this classic meat dish, and the translation was flawless, substituting a creamy, white panela cheese for the beef. The cheese was baked along with red, yellow & green bell peppers, cambray onion (that was first roasted over an open flame), tomatoes, carrot, zucchini, eggplant and once again the hearty nopal cactus. All of this was roasted in a tomato Gaujillo chili base that just made the flavors explode.