My favorite booking site when traveling to a new place is booking.com. I like it for its easy to navigate filters which include budget, room type, and review score.
There are other amenities I look for like free parking and wifi but by mapping the rooms’ location, I can usually identify how much walking or use of public transportation we’re in for. Notice I use the word room and not hotel. That’s because unlike trivago or hotels.com which are meta search engines that use price comparison of hotel chains, booking.com will list hotels, an apartment, homestay, or even hostels in the area. Booking takes advantage of the high percentage of rooms that do not care about their own website or do not know the formulas to promote themselves on the internet.
When we can and when it makes more sense we use airbnb. If we can get a better rate, location, or if we’re in an unfamiliar city, and if it feels like a good fit. But in Mexico airbnb has not yet established itself so with nearly three weeks in Mexico we’ve stayed in four homes, each very different.
Playa del Carmen~Mexico y Nubes B&B
Mexico and Clouds?
This room was set along a golf course on the quiet side of PlayaCar. It’s a fifteen minute leisurely walk to the bustle of the main square.
There are four rooms in the style of “hippie chic” and in the main house we were seated for breakfast with all of the guests: a couple from Italy, two from Mexico, and us. We helped ourselves to coffee, fresh fruit, yogurt, juices, and fan favorite, flan topped with honey.
This room with Free parking, wifi, a small pool, breakfast, and all taxes $38 a night.
Patrick was our host at this studio apartment in a mostly local neighborhood a short walk to the town plaza. We were here a week so the small kitchenette came in handy and feeling like Cozumel was like coming home, very comfortable. Breakfast was not provided but a block away is a bakery we’d stop in for a cup of coffee and a pastry for 20 pesos ($1). This wasn’t your corner coffee shop. No, this is one of only two bakeries on Cuzumel that provide bread and baked goods to the islands residents and tourists, including the all-inclusive resorts on the south side of the island.
The water pressure was perfect and the bee honey shampoo was a great touch. As you can see Patrick is very proud of his booking.com 9.5 review rating posted on the wall. Studio Cocoa is $48 a night.
Back to Playa del Carmen~Casa Ejido
Playa del Carmen has its share of hostels and Casa Ejido had that same hostel vibe only we had our own ensuite cabaña. This rustic, hip “cabin” felt a bit like the hut Gilligan and Skipper shared on Gilligan’s Island. It was as if they had plastered the walls of the cabaña and left open the log beams. The cool breezes flowed through as if we were on la playa, but we were about a mile away in a quiet neighborhood away from the bustle of the beach.
We had a basic kitchenette and a common pool area where we shared “stories” with fellow travelers over some beers and music on the patio every evening. With a 10% discount for paying in pesos, we paid $36 a night.
Akumal~Camp Akumal Jungle Hotel
. . .Where villas and hotels on the beach a mile away run $175 on up. Having spent two weeks on the beach already, now it’s jungle time. We spent a week here and as my beard grows wilder, I’m starting to feel a bit like Tarzan.
The beauty of the “camp” arrives when the sun goes down. The well lit patio welcomes not only the half dozen tourists renting rooms but some of the jungle critters and birdlife. We’ll cover that on next weeks blog.(read here)
Camp Akumal is not a campground but a small eco-friendly, family-run sort of commune. Each room has its own bathroom and small kitchen and are scattered about in well manicured grounds and two pools.
The guests here range from long term renters, a few French, and Canadians, to us. Our happy to chat hosts, Dana and Fabian, are a wealth of information for local exploration. With bikes to use for free, wifi, bbq, and plenty of jungle life at only $58 a night.
Sure, I could have booked a beach villa for $250 a night, a Best Western, or a budget hostel but these rooms we’ve shared for the last three weeks all have personality and the perfect charm we look for in a room.
With a little homework in reading great reviews, booking.com scored a perfect 10. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.