Immersed in my rooftop plunge pool, with 360 views of the Caribbean sea and thick Mexican jungle, sipping on frozen margaritas, I felt like I had made it.  My trip to Tulum was one that I had been looking forward to for months, as we were staying at the kind of place I had dreamed about visiting for years, like a photo from the pages of Traveler, everything was just as I had imagined it to be.


The beach is my happy place, I’ve always favoured the beach over city and country breaks, and even since learning how to ski and falling in love with the mountains (which you can read about here), the ocean is where my heart remains, how lucky I was then that the stretch of beach at Papaya Playa feels comparable to that of the Maldives with fine pale sand and bath water sea temperatures.


What first attracted me to the Papaya Playa Project was its design and proximity to the beach. Born as a hotel pop-up in 2011, the Design Hotels creative team together with existing owner Emilio Heredia completely refurbished the site to transform it into the luxe ocean front playground for creative types that’s there today.

The project is ecologically built using only indigenous materials such as wood, clay and palapa (thatched) roofing. This combined with the local Mayan construction techniques mean the casitas are built to withstand the tropical, coastal climate and blend in naturally to the surroundings, giving the hotels its rustic yet sophisticated charm.


Accommodation varies from rustic jungle experience cabanas to luxury oceanfront casitas. We stayed in the latter, positioned just meters from the ocean and elevated on stilts to prevent any interference with the wildlife , the projects love for nature shines through every aspect. Our room was spacious, bright and private, everything we needed for our perfect beach escape.  A private terrace overlooking the ocean was a great way to spend many an afternoon, soaking up last minute rays and reading our books in the hammock, but my favourite part was the rooftop plunge pool, the perfect spot for a margarita with views stretching over the whole of the project and beyond.

The interiors are simple but chic with natural woods and light textiles. We had air con which was perfect for the evenings when the mosquitos prevented us from having the doors open, but during the day we preferred to make the most of the sea breeze. The rooms don’t have Wi-Fi signal but we honestly preferred it this way. It was such a welcome chance to disconnect, if only temporarily, and enjoy each others company, taking in our surroundings and enjoying being in the moment. Something which isn’t an often enough occurrence in this field of work.


You can enjoy a Mexican and Mayan influenced menu with a twist in the hotel restaurant. There are several seating areas on different levels which gives every table a perfect view out to the turquiose waters. Breakfast was our favourite meal of the day where we would enjoy fresh fruits, Chilaquiles and iced coffees. Trust me when I say it’s delicious!  Just below the restaurant, a few meters down you will find the beach club, with plenty of comfy day beds and palapitas for those seeking shade. We loved coming down to this spot after a morning of exploring for a couple of cold Pacifico’s and some topitos and guacamole.

The energy at this place is like nothing else, their ethos is all about spreading love and positively with the mission of constantly improving their natural surroundings is at the forefront of everything they do, we already can’t wait to revisit.





  • Rooftop plunge pool with incredible ocean and jungle views
  • Private terrace and hammock facing the sea
  • Pristine 900 meter stretch of white sand beach
  • The hotel is linked to some of the best DJs in the world and hosts a full moon party every month which is definitely worth a visit

Need To Know

  • Lighting can be a bit low in the evenings due to the protection of the sea turtles. Be careful on your way back to your room, especially after a few Mezcals.
  • Don’t expect hot tubs, TVs or Wi-Fi in the rooms, the rustic 'Robinson Crusoe' vibes are what makes Papaya Playa Project so charming
  • Private houses sleeping around 20 people can also be rented for private events, as well as a new Gaudi esque tree house which is the latest edition to the estate

No. of Rooms & Suites: 100

Rate Per Night: From £150

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