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Earlier this month I wrote about how to explore the real Cancun. That means branching out from the typical tourist like spots and not spending all your time on the Zona Hotelera (Hotel Strip).
While the Hotel Strip is THE place to stay in Cancun, it does make a difference where on the strip you are. North, south, middle is not all the same.
The middle of the strip is the busiest, with the most name brand hotels. Restaurants line the opposite side of the strip and you are in a great position to head north or south. This is also the busiest area, sort of like how Times Square is in New York. South of the strip seems to be quiet, but northern Hotel Strip is the best for an authentic Mexican stay in Cancun.
I stayed at the utmost northern tip at the Imperial Las Perlas hotel. I don’t think I could have picked a better hotel for a true, authentic stay. Here’s all about it and why I loved it:
The design of the hotel screams – authentic! It had such nice architecture and art. I felt like I was staying in a true Mexican building not influenced by any western or American tastes. The indoors had a section to pray to the Virgin Mary and pottery lined the walls. Our rooms came with huge sinks and kitchens as well as more art to make us see how a local Mexican room really is designed.
Location made it a more authentic stay by far. The hotel was away from the noise and crowds of the middle of the Strip, and it had a cozy, clean beach. All the rooms come with balconies and there are more ocean view rooms than not. It was in walking distance to other nearby restaurants and it had a tiki like restaurant of its own on stilts in the water.
Downstairs, you had a beach bar and many little palm tree huts to spend time under. There was a dock for excursions right there or, you could walk down 10 minutes to the ferry deck where the boat to Isla Mujeres docks. Being able to leave the hotel and dive right into other adventures was easy and key to my trip. I did not want to spend all my time at the hotel, although when I did I was treated really well. Staff was local and the prices were great. The more near you go to the middle strip, prices inflate 3-4x. I compared prices with others in regards to meals and drinks. Imperial Las Perlas offered everything at a “real” Mexico price, and not inflated due a big resort name.
Imperial Las Perlas is close to downtown Cancun. I had a car rental and getting to downtown took me about 5 minutes. If I stayed further down the Strip, it could have taken me as much as 20 minutes or more in traffic. I was able to get to downtown quickly and be part of the local community there.
I found Imperial Las Perlas through Kayak, and it was priced very low compared to many other hotels. It was $44 per night for an ocean view room with a balcony! Compared to the major resorts a few minutes down the road, it was saving me about $150 per night. The name brand hotels cost a pretty penny for Mexico – averaging around $200 but can reach as high as $400 per night. No thank you!
Imperial Las Perlas really helped me have a better stay in Cancun than I imagined years ago. Now, I am more optimistic to return and know that Cancun is a lot more than just drinking at the hotel bar.
Where would you stay for an authentic experience in Cancun?