These Luxury Tulum Hotels Are Worth Adding To Your Mexican Bucket List

The newly opened XELA and iconic La Valise are now a formidable combo of classic and modern Tulum luxury.

Photo: Affyrm Studio

Known for a decade now as being one of the most idyllic hotel sanctuaries on Mexico’s Tulum Beach, La Valise, which aptly translates to “The Suitcase”, embodies hideaway escapism from the outside world and the party scene that Tulum has less than quietly become.

Upscale Swiss Family Robinson, the thatched roof-style resort appears as if it had grown into its ragged-beauty surroundings: the crashing waves of the Caribbean Sea on one side, a verdant jungle oasis on the other. And now there’s even more to love.

Courtesy La Valise Tulum

La Valise, on the southeastern tip of Mexico, just expanded to 22 suites, half oceanfront, half of which face the Mayan tropical forest. And the five-star hotel—a favored landing spot for “gypsetters” and “yoganauts” alike for its wellness spa, sea-to-table cuisine, alluring rooms, natural cenote, double pools canopied by undulating palms, and that private remote beach—just added a sister boutique hotel XELA Tulum next door.

Courtesy XELA Tulum

The rooms at XELA, an intimate, adults-only, 12-suite enclave—formerly the beach house of a creative couple—are curated with their own handcrafted furnishings and artwork, and offer 360-degree panoramic views. Not to mention a rooftop lounging haven looking out on it all. The décor as a whole works with earth hues and natural materials, a sort of minimalist-meets-Med-Rev aesthetic.

Furnishing and textiles are all sourced from Mexico, and XELA recruited a master carpenter for the appointments. A standout is an intricately carved 14-foot door weighing 2,000 pounds. It is all very open air with rooms equipped with terraces or balconies. The lobby is more akin to an open-air living room with sunken seating overlooking a garden and the swimming pools. There’s a beautiful bar off of the living room as well, and a menu of ideal small plates for when you’re feeling peckish.

Image: Affyrm Studio

Yves Naman, Founder & CEO of Namron Hospitality and the creative genius behind both projects (among others, tells us that XELA, pronounced “shell-a,” “draws its inspiration from the curiosity and the soothing sounds of the sea, reminiscent of what shells echo when placed against one’s ear. It’s a sanctuary crafted for the soul of travelers, wanderers, and like-minded spirits who seek solace in the heart of the mesmerizing Mexican Caribbean.” 

Courtesy La Valise Tulum

While there is a small spa and gym on site, guests can utilize La Valise Tulum’s far more sizable configuration, which offers yoga classes and regionally based treatments indigenous to Mayan culture. That includes ceremonies, movement classes, and workshops, “fostering harmony of body and mind amidst nature.” Guests can have beachside and in-suite massages.

Courtesy La Valise Tulum

The restaurant at La Valise is helmed by executive chef and culinary icon Luis Aguilar, known for his zero-waste ethics, fresh ingredients, and sustainable cooking methods. That includes some of the freshest ceviche in Tulum, as well as poolside snacks such as guacamole and eggplant hummus.

Naturally at the bar, there are classic margaritas and caipirinhas. But signature cocktails standout, such as the Balam (mescal, passion fruit, pineapple, huana, and falernum) and the Red Sunset (Licor 43, pineapple, lime, and Jamaican rum). Or pop a locally crafter beer from Cerveza Tulum.

Courtesy Namron Hospitality

Next door to La Valise is its sister property NÜ Tulum, one of the best and coolest restaurants in in town. Here, “our expert chef skillfully blends diverse, locally sourced, organic, and exotic ingredients from the abundant Caribbean Sea and enchanting Mayan Jungle,” the open-air, wood-fired eatery notes. Standout dishes include La Cabaña quail with mole negro, pickled and seasonal veggies, and it boasts one of the best soundtracks in a town world famous for its musical taste. Plus an amazing bar program as well.

Courtesy Namron Hospitality

“NÜ, inspired by the Mayan word “Nuhuk,” embodies our restaurant’s philosophy of community, nature, and culinary arts. Led by our passionate chef, we create sustainable culinary journeys with locally-sourced ingredients and bespoke cocktails. Immerse yourself in the magic of our surroundings, accompanied by music, and savor creative and memorable meals that reflect our commitment to sustainability. NÜ Tulum invites you to indulge in an enchanting dining experience that celebrates flavor and eco-consciousness.”

Courtesy La Valise Tulum

This past year, Tulum opened its own international airport to the Mayan Riviera, Aeropuerto Internacional de Tulum Felipe Carrillo Puerto, so most visitors don’t have to fly into over-crowded and much farther away Cancun. The road to the two hotels gets more potholed, making the experience feel authentic. Tulum in the past decade has become something of a party town, despite it being considered a yoga-sphere of wellness.

La Valise by Affyrm Studio

Summers are hot-hot-hot but breezy with weekly rains in Tulum. The ocean is warm, the swimming pools, cool. And it’s a perfect time to visit, as it’s not “the season.” After settling in for a few days, guests should take advantage of the beach, of course, but also the nearby Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve for an eco-tour of the shimmering lagoons and coastal wetlands. Eat at some local food stands nearly feet from the entranceways. Or take a short drive to Tulum’s ancient Mayan ruins.

Courtesy La Valise Tulum

Most definitely, visitors should try to go to vendors and food stands that still hold to tradition: dishes heightened by techniques inherited from the Maya that include herbal marinades, as well as recaudo negro grilled octopus. A morning favorite is acos de canasta (steamed tacos) overflowing with scrambled eggs with a spinachy chay and red mole with chicken or pork, marinated in adobo.

Courtesy La Valise Tulum

If guests want to take a bit of their resort experience home with them, the La Valise Store shop offers one-of-a kind pieces, including furnishings and adornments from the suites, including the famous animal-shaped wicker furniture. The store, designed to be a “hybrid concept embracing the characteristics of a museum with meticulously-curated items,” also offers indigenous clothing, accessories, and skincare products.

Courtesy La Valise Tulum

La Valise and Xela are both part of the Namrom Hospitality group, which manages a handful of Tulum properties, including NEST, Radhoo, Encantada, and the new BESPOKE Residences in Tankah Bay. Other La Valise resorts include the bohemian-chic property in Mexico City, Roma Norte. Four hours from there is La Valise San Miguel, an iconic stay in San Miguel de Allende in the heart of colonial Mexico with all its cobblestone streets and patina facades.

Courtesy Namron Hospitality

La Valise Tulum is a also longstanding member of SLH, aka Small Luxury Hotels of the World. With some 560 hotels spanning 90 countries, SLH is known the world over for the most stylish boutique luxury hotels on the planet—everything from treehouses, fish camps, rainforest abodes, desert ranches, and ski chalets, all completely unique and utterly memorable.