Hotel Esencia review: Relax and unwind at Tulum’s ultimate five-star sanctuary


In a nutshell: A luxurious and secluded taste of paradise that oozes cool.

The neighbourhood

Just off the main road that runs along Quintana Roo’s Caribbean coastline, from the tacky excess of Cancun to the oversaturated hippy chic of Tulum, Hotel Esencia (and its accompanying 50-acre estate) is tucked in a verdant jungle setting that leads through to its own private stretch of beach.

Villas are set in a 50-acre estate

(Tanveer Badal Photography / TANVEERBADAL.COM)

Upon arriving by car, guests are relieved of their luggage by one of the immaculately presented staff members, before being transported by golf cart through the calm-inducing tropical gardens in which the hotel’s collection of 45 suites are situated.

The look

Given its palatial feel, it comes as no surprise to learn that the site was originally constructed as the private hideaway of an Italian duchess.

We stayed in one of the ‘jungle suites’, featuring a plunge pool within a terrace solarium.

Whitewalls are offset by contemporary style

(Hotel Esencia)

Inside the self-contained building, décors contrast white walls – ideal for keeping interiors cool despite the sweltering heat – with dark wood trimmings, while furniture and artwork are contemporary in style.

The ‘Main House’ acts as the site’s architectural centrepiece, surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns and palm trees.

The vibe

The huge iguanas, seen lounging on the edges of the gardens as guests make their way through to the golden sands of the private beach, encapsulate the relaxing atmosphere of the hotel.

Staff are exactly the right degree of friendly, and all seem to have mastered the rare art of tending to guests’ needs while keeping service informal; it all adds up to ensure the grandeur of the surroundings never leaves you feeling claustrophobic.

We’d originally planned to spend some of our time visiting local sights and attractions; in fact, the tranquillity of the setting ensured we didn’t leave the grounds once until check out.

Bed and bath

The spacious main room led out on to an enclosed front terrace (where we tended to end up at the end of most evenings, sprawled out on the tasteful outdoor furniture), while walk-in wardrobes offered more space for clothing than we were ever likely to need.

Some villas come with private pools

(Tanveer Badal Photography / TANV)

In the bathroom, an array of luxe complimentary toiletries are available, along with a double shower with rainfall shower head.

The layout of the hotel means shoes are entirely optional and, in our case, barely made it out of the suitcase – so the complimentary Havaiana sandals were another nice touch.

Food and drink

Among the highlights of the day were mealtimes. Before we’d even woken up, a selection of pastries and coffee was left on the terrace to fall upon immediately on rolling out of bed.

Breakfast at the poolside bar includes homemade granola and seasonal fresh fruit, along with a range of more typical Mexican offerings.

There are several restaurants to choose from

(Hotel Esencia)

Just between the beach and the pools are the hotel’s eateries – a selection of restaurants including one serving a traditional Mexican-Mediterranean fusion and another, Beefbar, offering dishes featuring Australian Black Onyx and Wx Wagyu beef, along with Japanese Kobe beef.

The food combines sophistication with simplicity, and service ensures the experience never feels mired in pretentiousness (it helps that many of the items on the menus were more affordable than might be expected at such a high-end establishment).

For sundowners, a beach bar serves various cocktails to enjoy poolside or on the white sand.

Pools, spas and public areas

Two heated pools are set just off the beach, with lush lawns – on which comfortable seating is dotted around for guests to plonk themselves down of an evening – between them and the main house.

Guests can choose between pool and sea for their water fix

(Hotel Esencia)

For those so inclined, there’s a gym and fitness room, while complimentary sunrise yoga was another highlight of our stay.

Nuts and bolts

Wifi: Free

Disability access: Yes

Extra charges: An organic spa offers a range of treatments, while activities and excursions are also bookable for an extra charge.

Bottom line

Best thing: The permanently calm-infused atmosphere and plum beachside location.

Worst thing: The seductive pull of the beach and grounds means seeing the local area rather takes a back seat.

Perfect for: Couples seeking a spot of luxury in a private setting.

Not right for: Those seeking an action-packed adventure holiday.

Rooms at Hotel Esencia start from $1,005 (£840) a night, B&B. (This rate is subject to 19 per cent tax and 10 per cent service.

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