Hotel Basico . Playa del Carmen
Found this January article from the New York Times about the Hotel Basico. Even if a bit north of your budget the rooftop lounge is a great place to spend the evening enjoying drinks and music, as I did last spring.
Photo and NY Times article:
THE BASICS The Deseo Hotel and Lounge was the first to bring a sophisticated South Beach aesthetic to Playa del Carmen, the popular Yucatán getaway, when it opened in 2001. In July, the same owners opened a second property, the stripped-down, industrial-chic Hotel Básico, along the town’s pedestrian Avenida Quinta, a block from the beach. An open-air, street-level food stall and juice bar doubles as the reception area, where colorful soccer balls, beach towels and snorkeling fins for guest use share shelf space with espresso machines and water glasses. A trawling net filled with spare deck chairs hangs whimsically above the soaring lobby.
THE ROOMS The 15 rooms all have female names. Mine, the Paulina, had floor-to-ceiling windows and a sea view, but looked out more immediately at the vacant lot across the street. There is a distinctly modern beach flair: white concrete walls are hung with huge inflatable inner tubes, flat-screen televisions and stacks of towels. Instead of a night table, a wooden toolbox mounted on the wall opens to reveal a remote control, a notepad, matches, an ashtray and Polaroid film for the white camera that is attached to the king-size bed, rather naughtily, by a long silver chain. Cushy pillow-top mattresses, oversized pillows and pristine white cotton sheets are extremely comfortable, but a good night’s sleep is best assured with earplugs, as the upstairs bar spins music into the wee hours. There is not a lot of storage space, but luggage racks and hidden drawers slide out from under the bed.
THE BATHROOM In each room, a heavy blond-wood door with a saw handle leads to a small separate toilet, which has a mini disco-ball on a chain as a flushing mechanism. The sink and bathtub share the bedroom space, but manage to do it without feeling too crowded.
THE LOCATION Playa’s Fifth Avenue, as the street is called, is lined with shops – including standard souvenir shacks, trendy chains like Diesel, and distinctive local boutiques specializing in cigars and premium-grade tequila – and an endless parade of tacky restaurants and bars.
AMENITIES Free wireless Internet access is available throughout the property, and desktop computers are available in the basement office. A second-floor restaurant specializes in seafood, but the coolest hangout by far is the rooftop lounge, which features a bar; two circular pools 10 feet in diameter (more like deep tubs, since you can’t really swim in them); four-poster vinyl beach beds shielded by airy cotton sheets; hammocks; and plenty of deck chairs. Beware of the beds on windy days: on a recent afternoon, a whipping sheet dislodged and broke one of the atmospheric hanging lightbulbs. But a soak in the pool, with piña colada in hand and sublime views of the Caribbean and Cozumel in the distance, is certainly a great way to pass an afternoon. There is no gym on site, but guests can pay $12 for entrance to Area Body Zone, a modern facility down the street. Guests have free access to Mamita’s, a tony beach club a 15-minute walk north along the shore (it is the type of place that has Mercedes-Benz-sponsored fashion shows on the beach).
ROOM SERVICE Prompt and friendly, but unnecessary, since there is a restaurant, bar and cafe at the hotel, and plenty of choices in the immediate vicinity. And with nowhere to put a tray except the rubber-tire-covered pullout table at the foot of the bed, it is infinitely more pleasant to dine outside.
THE BOTTOM LINE Hotel Básico, Avenida Quinta and Calle 10 Norte, www.hotelbasico.com, (52-984) 879-4448, is not right on the beach, but it offers a central location, a friendly staff and an excellent food and bar scene. It is ideal for hipsters and young couples on a romantic getaway looking for something different in tropical-themed rooms with a playful minimalist air. Winter (high season) rates start at $158 a room a night.