Mexico offers a full spectrum of accommodations. In popular destinations, book a couple of months in advance for peak times such as Christmas, Easter, Semana Santa and July/August.
- Hostels Found largely in backpacker-heavy destinations, hostels are inexpensive, and are often run by savvy travelers.
- Hotels Hotels range from nondescript to sensitively renovated historic residences.
- Guesthouses Typically good value and family-run, guesthouses offer a great taste of local life.
- Resorts These range from fairly basic to luxe all-inclusive affairs, with great beach access and amenities.
- Cabañas Cabins and huts, mostly found at beach destinations, range from basic to luxurious.
- Camping and hammocks In more budget-oriented beach spots, you can often sleep in a hammock or pitch a tent cheaply.
Symbols & Abbreviations
‘Single’ (which we abbreviate to ‘s’) means a room for one person, and ‘double’ (‘d’) means a room for two people. Mexicans sometimes use the phrase cuarto sencillo (single room) to mean a room with one bed, which may be a cama matrimonial (double bed). A cuarto doble often means a room with two beds, which may both be camas matrimoniales.
The air-con icon and nonsmoking icon mean that the establishment offers at least some air-conditioned and nonsmoking rooms, respectively.
Many midrange and top-end establishments in tourist destinations raise their rates during the Semana Santa (Easter) and Christmas−New Year holiday periods and local festival times. Budget accommodations are more likely to keep the same rates all year.
Budget ($) Most cities popular with international budget travelers have hostels, as well as cheap hotels. Budget accommodations also include campgrounds, hammocks, cabañas (cabins) and guesthouses. Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) and other room-sharing websites are also gaining popularity in Mexico.
Midrange ($$) Many midrange places have a restaurant and a bar, almost all have wi-fi and many have swimming pools. Many are atmospheric old mansions and inns turned into hotels. You’ll also find some B&Bs, apartments, bungalows and more comfortable cabañas that are midrange.
Top end ($$$) Accommodations in this category offer the expected levels of luxury – pools, gyms, bars, restaurants, design, professional service – at prices that are sometimes agreeably modest. They range in style from converted haciendas or small, chic boutique hotels to expansive modern resorts and spas. To save money, look for deals on hotel websites. Triple or family rooms tend to be a bargain for groups.
The price of accommodations in Mexico is subject to two taxes:
IVA (value-added tax; 16%)
ISH (lodging tax; 2% or 3% depending on the state)
Many of the less-expensive establishments only charge you these taxes if you require a receipt, and they quote room rates accordingly (ie not including taxes).
Types of Accommodations
Apartments In some resort towns you can find tourist apartments with fully equipped kitchens. They're good value for three or four people, especially if you’re staying more than a few days.
B&Bs Mexican B&Bs are usually small, comfortable, midrange or top-end guesthouses, often beautifully designed and offering friendly, personal attention. Many of them are effectively boutique hotels.
Cabañas Cabins or huts (of wood, brick, adobe or stone): they often have a palm-thatched roof, and are most often found at beach destinations. The most basic have dirt floors and a bed, and you provide the padlock for the door. Other cabañas are positively deluxe, with electric lights, mosquito nets, large comfy beds, bathrooms, hammock-strung decks and even air-con and a kitchen. The most expensive cabañas are on the Caribbean, where some luxury units can cost over M$2000.
Campgrounds & Trailer Parks Most organized campgrounds are actually trailer parks set up for RVs (recreational vehicles, campers) and trailers (caravans) that are also open to tent campers at lower rates. Some restaurants and guesthouses in beach spots or country areas will let you pitch a tent on their patch for around M$60 per person.
Hammocks Hammock space is available in many of the more low-key beach spots. A hammock can be a very comfortable and cheap place to sleep in hot areas (keep mosquito repellent handy). Some places have hammocks to rent for anywhere between M$60 and M$110. It’s easy to buy hammocks in Mexico, especially in Oaxaca and Chiapas states and on the Yucatán Peninsula.
Hostels Hostels provide dormitory accommodations typically from M$170 to M$250 per person, plus communal kitchens, bathrooms, living space, and nearly always wi-fi. Often private double rooms are available for a bit more than the price of two dorm beds. The best hostels have pools, bars, gardens and sundecks. Cleanliness and security vary, but popular hostels are great places for meeting fellow travelers. International hostel websites such as Hostelworld (www.hostelworld.com) provide plentiful listings and online reservations.
Posadas & Casas de Huéspedes Posadas are inns, meaning anything from basic budget hotels to tastefully designed, small, midrange places. A casa de huéspedes is a guesthouse, a home converted into simple, inexpensive guest lodgings, usually family run.