So we hopped in our little rental car, a slightly shoddy automatic Chevy Aveo with a right speaker so noisy that we had to disconnect it (the buzzing noise actually continued even though we turned off the radio, it was like a zombie speaker).
We got lost at the Cancun airport, drove in circles for a while, and finally made it out to the main road heading to Playa Del Carmen.
It was a beautiful drive, with lots of trees and lovely landscape, even thought it was a major highway. There was a weird thing, though... Along the highway, there were these massive stone archways, after passing several of them, We figured that they were entrances to Cancun resorts, like the "all-inclusive" type. All of them were surrounded by forest, so we didn't see any actual people. Later during the trip my curiosity got the best of me and I ended up peeking in at one of those places,( but more about that later).
Playa Del Carmen is only about 45 minutes outside of Cancun, so we explored a little before going down there. It started raining and by the time we reached downtown Playa (after getting lost a few times, again--it made me realize how dependent I am on my smartphone's GPS).
We ended up having to ask a taxi driver to escort us to our Hotel, which was a wonderful little Boutique hotel named Hotel Cielo.
Our room was great! This little hotel was affordable and in a fantastic location, especially compared to the other hotels in the area, it's a true bargain and worth every penny. The hotel itself is small and has less than 20 rooms. No Amex is accepted at the hotel, so reserve online or you won't get travel points. We made our reservation online so we were able to book the rooms using American Express. It's important to us, because we use our points to help pay for our flights. Hardly any businesses accepted Amex in Playa, and most refused to accept any type of credit card at all. You need to have cold, hard, cash.
The rooms were spotless, and the mattresses are all premium pillow-top mattresses. After staying on dozens of terrible, terrible beds in Mexico, (even in nice hotels) this was a nice change.
The A/C was strong and worked great, it was very hot while we were there in August, IT was hot and humid and we slept comfortably in the room.
The little restaurant below is owned by the same owner and the food was great and affordable, especially breakfast, where hotel guests get 50% off--we got a huge breakfast for 4 people and it was all less than 20 bucks (with the discount).
It's literally just 15 seconds from the beach, it's only one block away. We went to the beach several times a day, just walked across the street and there it was.
There was FREE, CHILLED bottled water on every floor. You can just refill your bottles on your floor. I've never seen this perk at any other hotel in this area, and it's great. No going to the store late at night just because you want a drink. It was quiet throughout our stay, and we had no problems with drunks or noise.
My main gripe was that there was no street parking anywhere nearby, or garage parking at the hotel, so we had to pay for parking our rental car a few blocks away at a private lot. It added a little over $10 a day to our expenses.
I loved this hotel, and for the price, it was worth every penny. It was the best place we stayed at during our trip, and we stayed at several hotels throughout the region.
Room Tip: The downstairs rooms are nice because you don't have to walk up so many flights of stairs, but the top rooms probably have spectacular views.
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Just a middle-class family with three young kids, looking to escape the rat race. This is our journey!
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