Your Ultimate Guide for Where to Stay in Cancun, Mexico

cancun mexico

Cancun is a Paradise on Earth and the perfect place for a spoiled getaway if you love laying on superb beaches, partying, drinking until the sun rises and tasting an amazing gastronomy. Yep, all these for some pretty affordable prices!

Are you heading there soon? That’s amazing, get ready for the vacation of a lifetime! But if you want to create the perfect holiday for yourself, you might be wondering where to stay in Cancun, right? Well, my friend, this is quite an important question and I’m here to help you find your answer quick and easy!

Cancun is located on the coast of Yucatan Peninsula, in South-East Mexico. So get ready for some unbelievable beaches and some incredible hotels, as well as some more affordable options. In this article I’ll explain everything about the 3 best areas in Cancun, as well as some awesome bonuses about Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres. And yes, there are going to be plenty of all-inclusive hotels in this article! 😉

visit cancun

All you have to do is pick the right one for you, depending on your travel style and budget. Are you ready? Let’s find out about the best neighborhoods and hotels in Cancún!

If you’re in a hurry…

If you ask me, I’d say that Zona Hotelera is the perfect place to be for first-timers in Cancun. I stayed there too and I was fully satisfied with my experience! It is an ideal area for all-inclusive hotels, beautiful beaches and cool clubs – so pretty much everything tourists are looking for.

Which area should you choose?

cancun mexico

Cancun is divided into different neighborhoods, each of them with its own charm and advantages. But which one of them is perfect for YOU? This is what I’m going to explain below!

In short, I am recommending three different areas. Zona Hotelera Cancun is a long strip of beach and the place where you’ll find tons of all-inclusive luxurious hotels, and dining places. Punta Cancun is the Northern part of Zona Hotelera and it’s more alive, the ideal spot for party animals, as there are tons of great clubs and bars here. A bit to the West there’s El Centro (also known as Downtown Cancun) a.k.a. the center of the city, a residential area and the place where you’ll find more affordable accommodation options. Go there for an authentic atmosphere, traditional restaurants and charming streets.

So you basically have two choices to choose from. Do you want a local atmosphere and good prices? Downtown Cancun is your answer. Do you want to splurge, party and lay on the beach? Then head over to Zona Hotelera.

Still not sure which one’s for you? Below you’ll find my personalized recommendations, depending on what you’re searching for:

  • Where to stay in Cancun for beaches: Zona Hotelera
  • Where to stay in Cancun for luxury: Zona Hotelera
  • Where to stay in Cancun for all-inclusive hotels: Zona Hotelera
  • Best area for budget travelers: Cancun Downtown / El Centro
  • Where to stay in Cancun for nightlife: Punta Cancun
  • Best for families: Isla Mujeres

Now that everything’s a bit more clear to you, let’s find out more about these areas and my hotel recommendations in each of them, broken down by budget:

1. Zona Hotelera – Where to stay in Cancun for the first time

Zona Hotelera is the perfect place to stay in Cancun for first-timers and for people who want to spend their vacation on the beach or to party like crazy!

Zona Hotelera is a looong strip of beach (24 km, to be more precise) that was created with tourists in mind. It basically offers all the best things that Cancun has to offer: superb, golden-sand beaches (the color of the sea is absolutely amazing, I don’t think I have seen it so rich blue anywhere else!). World-class restaurants, water activities, shops and plenty of bars. There’s always something happening here, so you won’t get bored, not even for a second!

This is also the place where you’ll find tons of all-inclusive resorts where you can feel spoiled and completely relaxed during your holiday, all while enjoying some beautiful, turquoise sea views. Another advantage is that El Rey Archaeological Zone is super close, a bit south in this area!

In short, Zona Hotelera (which means “Hotel Zone”) is perfect for all types of travelers, regardless if you want to relax, to dance or to try some adventurous water sports (snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing etc.) in Nichupté lagoon, for example. It’s also easy to get around the city and to and from the airport, so basically all your needs will be well-catered here.

Now that you’re convinced that this is your place to be, I will share with you my best hotels in Cancun Hotel Zone:

Luxury (US$150 and up)

best hotels in cancun

  • Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun – All Inclusive – Adults Only – This superb 5-star hotel in Cancun is the perfect place to get a royal treatment! It’s a super cool all-inclusive resort that has its own private strip of beach and it’s actually rated in top 100 Hotels in the World! It’s one of the best hotels in Cancun for couples!
  • Nizuc Resort & Spa – Here’s another amazing 5-star resort that awaits with an outdoor pool, 6 on-site restaurants, on-site spa and many other luxurious amenities! Needless to say that the rooms are simply beautiful, just like the entire property!

By the way, if you want more recommendations for all-inclusive hotels in Cancun, head over to the bonus section below where I’m giving you my top 10 selection!

Middle-priced (US$100 – US$150)

  • Renaissance Cancun Resort & Marina – This gorgeous 5-star hotel has some more affordable prices for the same world-class service! It’s perfect if you want to enjoy a spoiled trip while also save some bucks for other activities, why not?
  • Emporio Cancun – Well, I must admit, the name is pretty accurate! This awesome accommodation looks just like an empire and it’s the ideal destination if you want to be treated like a queen (or king)! By the way, they have not one, but two pools!

Budget (up to US$100)

Yes, it’s true, there are even some affordable accommodation options in Zona Hotelera! Here are two of the best ones for you:

  • La Villa du Golf à Cancun Hotel Boutique – This amazing 4-star hotel boasts an incredible service and unbeatable prices, considering its perfect location in Zona Hotelera! Choose this hotel if you want beautiful rooms, a 24-hour outdoor pool and more!
  • The Royal Islander – An All Suites Resort – Can you believe this gorgeous 4-star resort comes for less than US$100 per night? I think it’s simply amazing! Stay here if you want to have access to numerous pools and a perfect service!

2. Punta Cancun – Where to stay in Cancun for nightlife

cancun city

Wondering where to stay in Cancun to party? Punta Cancun is basically the Northern side of the Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera) and it’s THE place to be if you want to be surrounded by crazy cool clubs and bars! It’s the part of Cancun that never sleeps, so it’s ideal for night owls and party animals.

I definitely recommend it to people who want a vibrant vacation, full of dancing during the night and laying on the beach during the day. Trust me, you won’t even know what to choose from all the bars and clubs here! There is also a very good selection of restaurants nearby and the white sand beaches are just great.

Ah, and by the way, the famous Coco Bongo (the ultimate destination for fun, musicals and cool shows) is located in this area. Definitely a must visit!

But Punta Cancun is not all about nightlife (even though it pretty much is), but you’ll also find some calm waters here, perfect for windsurfing for example! Plus, there are 15 reefs in the area, so you’ll have something to see if you decide to go snorkeling!

Here are the best hotels in Punta Cancun:

Luxury (US$200 and up)

top hotels in cancun all inclusive

  • Grand Fiesta Americana – In case you’re looking for a luxurious all-inclusive resort in Punta Cancun, you just found it! This superb 5-star hotel in Cancun awaits with beachfront suites, spacious rooms, concierge services, a rooftop infinity pool and more! I have actually stayed here and I enjoyed everything about it! You can read more about my experience staying here in my post about Riviera Maya.
  • Hyatt Ziva Cancun – This is another gorgeous all-inclusive resort for the best stay in Cancun! It’s actually one of the most popular choices and the guests will definitely enjoy the superb rooms, fun activities (theater shows, tequila tasting etc.) and more. By the way, it’s only 300m from Coco Bongo and other entertainment places!

Middle-priced (US$110 – US$200)

  • Fiesta Americana Cancun Villas – Looking for a majestic 5-star accommodation that you can book for some more affordable prices? Well, you just found it! The location is great as well, as you’ll be surrounded by plenty of places where you can eat and drink. And the staff is super helpful too!
  • Aloft Cancun Hotel – This 4-star property awaits with tons of luxurious facilities such as a gym, an outdoor pool, a roof garden and superb rooms. It’s the perfect place where you can enjoy an excellent service for some pretty good prices!

Budget (up to US$110)

  • Hostel Cancun Natura – In case you’re planning a budget-friendly stay in Cancun, then this hostel is a very good option. It offers 2-star service and it has a great location, super close to Coco Bongo and many shopping places and restaurants, as well as the beautiful reef where you can snorkel. A super good hotel for super good prices!
  • Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites – Here is another amazing option if you want a budget beachfront accommodation. This one has an outdoor pool, a kids pool, and many other perfect facilities. By the way, make sure to book it as much in advance as you can so you can find an even better price deal!

3. El Centro / Downtown – Where to stay in Cancun on a Budget

cancun hotel zone

Do you want a local, authentic experience in Cancun? Then “El Centro” is the ideal place for you!

El Centro, also known as Downtown Cancun is the place where the locals live and where you’ll find tons of authentic restaurants, cool bars, local shopping places and more! So if you want variety, you’ll definitely find it here.

I think it’s the perfect place if you want to discover the true colors of Cancun and to avoid the tourists in Zona Hotelera. Needless to say that this is a great place for budget travelers and backpackers, as the prices here are lower than in the hotel zone and you can find tons of hostels and guesthouses.

Ah, and no worries about missing out, you will still have easy access to Cancun beach zone via bus or taxi. If you think El Centro is for you, here are the best hotels you can choose from for your stay in Cancun:

Luxury (US$100 and up)

cancun all inclusive resorts

  • Four Points by Sheraton Cancun Centro – This awesome 4-star hotel is perfect if you’re looking for a high-end service! It has an outdoor pool and an on-site restaurant, as well as some gorgeous, bright rooms. By the way, they even have a fitness center that you can use!
  • Kabah Boutique Hotel – Here’s another very good 4-star hotel that has all the facilities and amenities you might need for a perfect stay, including a continental or à la carte breakfast served each morning, cozy rooms, city views and more!

Middle-priced (US$50 – US$100)

  • Nomads Hotel Hostel & Bar – If you’re looking for a super cool place where you’ll feel spoiled for a very good value for money, this one’s for you! They have an outdoor swimming pool, a terrace and a nice garden where you can relax.
  • Mango Hostel – This guest house is another excellent choice where you’ll receive a great service! It’s also great for people traveling with kids, as they have different room types that you can choose from!

Budget (up to US$50)

  • Cielito Lindo – This bed and breakfast located walking distance to the heart of the city is simply excellent! It’s actually a colonial-style house that’s simply perfect for a budget stay in Cancun. By the way, the rooms have a beautiful, traditional decor!
  • Hostalito Mexican Hostel – In case you want an authentic, colorful hostel that will make any budget tourist happy, then book a room here! The rooms are super nice and they even have an outdoor pool. All in all, a great place!

Best apartments in Cancun

cancun all inclusive resorts

I’m sure there are some travelers out there that prefer staying in the comfort of an apartment, even when it comes to Cancun! I really believe that if you are traveling in a large group (a family with kids, for example, or a group of friends) or if you want to save some money on accommodation, booking an apartment rather than a hotel could be a very wise choice.

In case you want to do so, below you can find my selection of hand-picked apartments from Airbnb (spoiler alert: I have found some excellent choices!):

Luxury (US$100 and up)

  • Beautiful Studio for 6pax on the beach of Cancun – This one’s a superb apartment in the Hotel Zone, so walking distance from your room to the beach! The rooms are bright and super clean and everything looks simply flawless!
  • The Quarry, Beachfront sub penthouse – In case you want to stay in a luxurious penthouse with unforgettable sea views, then this apartment is for you! You’ll be surrounded by white sand beaches, nightlife places, bars and more. Perfect for an upscale Cancun vacation!

Middle-priced (US$50 – US$100)

best all inclusive resorts in cancun

  • 102 Departamento frante al mar con terraza privada – This super cute apartment has its own terrace with turquoise views of the sea – how cool is that? Everything looks super nice and the prices are super good, considering you’ll be 10 minutes away from the beach by foot!
  • Hotel Zone excellent location extended quiet clean – If you want a sparkling clean apartment in the Hotel Zone, then hurry up and book your stay in Cancun here! It’s perfect for up to 6 guests and you’ll have a view of the lagoon – just great!

Budget (up to US$50)

  • Mi CaSiTa uNo – This cute, colorful apartment is located in Downtown Cancun and it’s great for people traveling on a budget. It’s right in the heart of the city and it offers everything you might need for a pleasant stay. Recommended for two travelers!
  • Suite 15/4th floor inside Cancun’s heart – In case you’re looking for more budget options, here’s another one for you! This apartment has a very nice decor, simple and clean and it’s located in El Centro, very close to the beginning of the Hotel Zone. A great advantage!
👑 Luxury price: $400
🏨 Mid Range: $250
🛏️ Budget: $100
🏠 Airbnb: $150
💰Accommodation prices: Medium
📍Best Area: Zona Hotelera
🛎️ Best luxury hotel: Le Blanc Spa Resort
👛 Best budget hotel: Cielito Lindo

BONUS 1: 10 Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Cancun

cancun beach

Cancun is world-famous for its excellent all-inclusive resorts! That’s why I decided to create a special section where I’m recommending the top 10 resorts that offer all-inclusive service for the perfect vacation on the beach.

These properties are located in Zona Hotelera (the hotel zone in Cancun), right on the beach and they offer world-class service. Needless to say that all of them have flawless reviews from former guests, right?

But what’s included in an all-inclusive resort, you might ask? Well, it depends on each hotel, but an “all inclusive” Cancun vacation package usually means that you’ll have the room, all meals and beverages (both alcohool and non-alcoholic), as well as access some water sports in the case of Cancun. But make sure to check for your chosen resort to see what exactly is included!

By the way, for many all-inclusive hotels you’ll see the phrase “Adults-only” in the title. What does this actually mean? It means these properties do not allow children, as they’re meant for people who want a getaway without kids.

That being said, here are the best all-inclusive resorts in Cancun that I can recommend:

  1. Le Blanc Spa Resort – All Inclusive – Adults Only
  2. Haven Riviera Cancun
  3. Secrets The Vine Cancun All Inclusive – Adults Only
  4. Hyatt Ziva Cancun
  5. Sun Palace – All Inclusive
  6. Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Cancun – All Inclusive
  7. Hyatt Zilara Cancun – All Inclusive – Adults Only
  8. Riu Palace Peninsula All Inclusive
  9. Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun
  10. Beach Palace – All Inclusive

BONUS 2: Best hotels near Cancun Airport

cancun airplane

Cancun Airport (CUN) is the second busiest airport in Mexico and it’s located 12 km from Cancun Downtown and around 20 km from Zona Hotelera.

In case you have a super early flight back home or your flight arrives to Cancun very late at night, a wise choice would be to book a hotel room as close to the airport as possible. This way you’ll save some sleep and you’ll enjoy some convenience! Regardless of your reasons, I have found the best airport hotels for your stay down below (one for each type of budget):

  • Courtyard by Marriott Cancun – Here’s my recommendation for people looking for a luxurious stay right close to the airport. This hotel offers a free shuttle and it’s located less than 3 km from Cancun Airport. Needless to say that the 4-star service is super good!
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Cancun Airport – This one is the perfect fir for people looking for middle-priced accommodation and a great value for the money. This property awaits with gorgeous rooms, an American breakfast served daily and a free shuttle service!
  • Cancun-Soho B&B – If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend booking a room at this great bed and breakfast located only 4.5 km from the airport. It has an outdoor pool, a kitchenette and an airport shuttle as well.

BONUS 3: Best hotels in Puerto Morelos

best all inclusive resorts in cancun

Even though you’ll find Puerto Morelos mentioned in many other posts about Cancun accommodation as a neighborhood inside Cancun, it is actually 38 km away from the city and 40 minutes by car (it’s halfway from Zona Hotelera to Playa del Carmen, to be more precise) and it’s actually a separate town. Puerto Morelos is also 25-minutes by car from Cancun Airport, so it’s not that far!

But this doesn’t mean it’s not a great destination and a very good place to stay for a beach vacation! Puerto Morelos has super beautiful beaches and it’s the best place to go if you want to enjoy a beach paradise while also avoid the hustle and bustle of the touristic Hotel Zone in Cancun.

It’s also a great place for culture, as you’ll have interesting Mayan Ruins close-by, as well as Botanical Gardens and cenotes (Cenote La Noria, Cenote Verde Lucero and more), perfect for some swimming and fun. By the way, this fishing village also has an off-shore reef called Puerto Morelos National Reef Park!

If you think the calm and charming Puerto Morelos is for you, here are the best hotels you can choose from:

Luxury (US$100 and up)

cancun all inclusive

  • Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya All Inclusive – Yup, it’s true, Puerto Morelos is nothing short on all-inclusive hotels! This gorgeous 5-star hotel is excellent for a spoiled stay where you’ll have everything you’ll need! It’s great if you want some variety regarding the dining and entertainment activities!
  • Hotel Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort – In case you prefer a 4-star hotel instead, then I can recommend this one! This hotel overlooks the Puerto Morelos National Reef Park and it’s the perfect place to splurge and enjoy a spoiled treatment!

Middle-priced (US$50 – US$100)

  • Vela’s Condos – This condo-hotel is the best choice for people who want to enjoy a great value for the money. The condos are simply great, super clean and with great decor taste. Plus, they also have an outdoor swimming pool – so great!
  • Hotel El Moro – This accommodation is another excellent choice for super good prices. Some of the features of this property include an on-site restaurant, private parking, a garden, a terrace and more.

Budget (up to US$50)

  • Abbey Del Sol – This is another great condo-hotel that has some pretty amazing reviews, I must say! Book a room here if you want free WI-Fi, free bike rental and access to a super cool outdoor pool. The rooms are pretty fab as well!
  • Casa Boutique Hokhmah – Here’s another wonderful budget option for your stay. This is actually a boutique type of accommodation that offers some pretty good prices, not far away from the sandy beach!

BONUS 4: Where to stay in Isla Mujeres

cancun beach

Isla Mujeres is, as you can guess it, an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, located around 20 km (12 miles) from Cancun. It’s basically a separate heaven where you can relax away from the hordes of tourists!

The island has a length of 6 km and a width of 1 km, and it’s basically a small paradise on Earth! It’s an idyllic place full of palm trees, a beautiful beach with soft sand, great resorts and a wide range of activities from snorkeling to ziplining.

It’s also a great place to stay with your family and kids, as it’s more laid-back than the vivid Cancun. You’ll find plenty of local shopping experiences here, as well as many authentic restaurants serving traditional dishes and some pretty cool pubs and clubs as well. In short, it’s a place that offers something for everyone out there!

By the way, you can read more about Isla Mujeres in my post about 9 Unforgettable Things to Do in Riviera Maya – Mexico Travel Guide!

If you want to stay on Isla Mujeres, here are the best hotels to choose from:

Luxury (US$100 and up)

best hotels in cancun for adults

  • Beloved Playa Isla Mujeres by The Excellence Collection – If you want yet another all-inclusive property, this time on Isla Mujeres, here you have a brilliant choice! This one awaits with gorgeous rooms, a delicious daily breakfast and many other superb features that you will love!
  • Excellence Playa Isla Mujeres – And here you have another great choice for your stay in Isla Mujeres! All-inclusive service, a great location, 24-hour fitness center, rooftop terrace, 7 pools – these are just some of the advantages of staying here!

Middle-priced (US$50 – US$100)

  • Bahia Tolok – This condo-hotel has some pretty amazing reviews, so you can expect to have a great stay at this accommodation! The rooms are super clean and comfortable and some other facilities include free Wi-Fi, a fully equipped kitchen, a pool and more.
  • Hotel La Joya Isla Mujeres – This 4-star property has some pretty good prices, I must admit! The rooms are spacious and colorful and you’ll definitely enjoy the outdoor pool, BBQ facilities and all the other advantages of your stay.

Budget (up to US$50)

  • Casa Alba – In case you want to save some money on accommodation, I recommend booking a room in this nice guest house! You can choose from a double or a triple room; regardless of your choice, expect to enjoy a very pleasant stay!
  • Casa Ka’an – And if you didn’t make up your mind just yet, here’s another budget accommodation for your stay. This one is only 7 minutes away from the beach and it has a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi and a terrace – so good!


cancun sea

I hope you enjoyed this ultimate guide on where to stay in Cancun, Mexico! I’m sure that you’re already an expert on the best areas and hotels in the city by now and maybe you even found the perfect place for your stay in Cancun, who knows?

In this post I told you everything about the 3 best areas to stay in Cancun, as well as some bonus sections for Isla Mujeres and Puerto Morelos, two great beach paradises a bit outside Cancun city. Of course, I also made a selection of the top 10 best all-inclusive hotels in Cancun that you can choose from, as well as airport hotels and apartments.

In short, this article contains all you need to know about where to stay in Cancun, now all you need to do is to make a choice!

I hope this post was useful to you. If you need more travel inspiration on Mexico and Riviera Maya especially, I recommend checking out my article about 9 Unforgettable Things to Do in Riviera Maya – Mexico Travel Guide.

And if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below, I’m happy to help!


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