Hotel Esencia, Riviera Maya

Mexico’s Riviera Maya has no shortage of stunning hotels but if you want to retreat from the bells and whistles of Playa del Carmen and hideaway somewhere altogether more serene, then the elegant Hotel Esencia offers the perfect beachside refuge. Once a favorite retreat of an Italian Duchess, this hotel combines simplicity and refinement to create an exclusive hideaway that’s too good to resist.


Wedged deliciously between a tropical jungle and the Caribbean Sea, Hotel Esencia is a private 50-acre estate nestled on a quiet stretch of Riviera Maya’s finest white sands. Only an hour from Cancun and 25 minutes south of Tulum, powdered sands and ancient Mayan ruins are at your fingertips. Or if you prefer to spend an evening dancing the night away, then the nightclubs and beach bars of Playa del Carmen lie but a 20-minute drive away.

Your room

Natural, minimalist design reigns supreme at Hotel Esencia with each room sporting a crisp white décor interspersed with splashes of Mayan color. You’ll have ample room to relax here with sky-high ceilings and extra-large bathrooms sporting rain showers that run from the outside in. There’s a choice of ocean or jungle views, but our favorite is the Master Suite with its 360-degree panoramic view of the aquamarine ocean. If that wasn’t enough to impress, the electric window shades also double as a private movie screening room complete with surround sound – should you ever tire of the postcard-perfect views. Not likely.

Why we like it

We love nothing better than a good pampering and Hotel Esencia’s gorgeous spa certainly ticks all the boxes. The first organic spa in the Riviera Maya, a whole array of holistic rituals that harness the revitalising powers of the region’s ancient indigenous fruits and plants await you here. Think flower-filled Jacuzzi baths, herbal saunas in Mayan-style domes and massages on the calming shores illuminated by tiki torches; our stresses evaporate simply thinking about it.

All images courtesy of Tanveer Badal for Hotel Esencia