The city has a variety of accommodations ranging from budget to mind- and budget-blowing. Almost all hotels offer discounts during ‘low’ season, but many have up to five different rate periods: Christmas and New Year are always at a premium, with high rates sometimes running from December through US spring break in March, and again in July and August (when locals have their summer vacation period). Many places have great online promotions.
‘Budget’ is a relative term; prices in Cancún are higher for what you get than most anywhere else in Mexico. There are many cheap lodging options within several blocks of the bus terminal, northwest on Avenida Uxmal. The area around Parque de las Palapas has several hostels and budget digs as well.
Midrange in Cancún is a two-tiered category; the Cancún Centro area is much cheaper than the Zona Hotelera and only a short bus ride away from the Zona’s beaches.
With few exceptions, most hotels lining Blvd Kukulcán are of the top-end variety. Many offer all-inclusive packages, often at reasonable rates if you’re willing to forgo eating elsewhere. Often the best room rates are available through hotel-and-airfare packages, so shop around.
Living Large in the Mexican Caribbean
Cancún and its surrounding areas have many establishments selling the 'resort' experience, but only some are truly worth the splurge. Non-negotiable is a prime beachfront location; after that, it's really just a question of what best suits your needs: some hotels put a premium on over-the-top comfort and elegance, others specialize in family-friendly getaways with around-the-clock activities. When booking a room, keep in mind that some resorts do not accept children and most, though not all, offer all-inclusive plans with an endless banquet of food and drink.
The 'all-inclusive' plans will likely give you an experience that's barely Mexico: you'll speak in English, eat international food (often not as good as at the nearby restaurants), and have packaged day trips and excursions. If you're looking to experience Mexico or its culture, an all-inclusive may not be the right fit for you, and you can often get excellent service and delicious food at a family-run B&B.
Here are some of the best resorts in and around Cancún.
Le Blanc Adults-only resort with over-the-top luxury. Butler service, anyone?
Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites Family-friendly resort with very swimmable beach for kids.
Petit Lafitte Secluded and safe family vacation spot just north of Playa del Carmen.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya luxury resort that puts the others to shame.