Friends with benefits is exactly how I’d describe this trip!
My girlfriend is a top seller for a makeup company and she’d earned as trip for 2 to Tulum. Her husband was unable to go, due to a prior engagement so when she asked if I’d be her travel companion (to one of my fave places in the entire world), it was an easy yes.
We left home early Thursday morning to catch our flights at 6AM, had a short layover in Atlanta before landing in Cancun around 130PM.
We made it through customs fairly quickly (they don’t require the forms any longer!) & I’d booked us a transfers to get us from the airport to our hotel in Tulum. I chose USA TRANSFER bc of their great reviews & even despite all of the chaos outside of the airport, it took us less than 10 minutes to locate them. If you’ve ever exited the airport in Cancun, you know how overwhelming finding your transfer can be. Although we had paid $155 for a private shuttle, they said we’d be waiting an extra hour (due to traffic) for a private one, or we could share one with three other travelers who were going to the same resort, but there would be zero compensation or reimbursement back to us.
So we could share, or we could wait.
We chose to share.
Construction in Cancun has been going on for several years now so my first suggestion is to see if your hotel offers a complimentary shuttle. If not, if you book a company shuttle / third party, I’d likely pay the cheaper option for a shared shuttle as it’s probable you’ll be riding with someone else anyways.
The drive from Cancun airport to the Hilton Tulum was approx 1 hour and 45 minutes. Our driver did not have water but he did have beer (2 for $5). Once we arrived to the hotel we left a $20 gratuity for our driver for the 2 of us & checked in. When travelling in Mexico (all inclusive or not) please don’t forget to tip the people you come into contact with who are of service to you. They likely don’t live in places like the resorts we’re accustomed to staying at, and your gratuities are often a very welcome gesture.
The main lobby / entry area of the Hilton Tulum is where all of the restaurants, boutiques, rental areas, concierge , etc are located. It’s aesthetically very welcoming and overlooks the Caribbean. On the top (entry level) of the lobby is a small coffee shop that had a fabulous almond milk latte, along with fresh fruit, mixed salads & some pastries. They also had gelato (the espresso, Chocolate & vanilla were my faves!) Again, the food is inclusive but don’t forget to tip the coffee baristas!
(When staying in Mexico, I’d plan an extra $15 per day (cash) MINIMUM for tips, or $5 per meal, $10/$20 for dinner, 20% for excursions/ spas ect ))
The top floor of the main lobby is also where several restaurants which I’ll detail a bit further down + several locals infused boutiques are located & THANKFULLY they also offered things you might have left at home, like razors, tampons, Tylenol, sunscreen, ect.
At check-in, we were notified of our room 4225.
That meant we were in the 4th building, 2nd floor, room 25.
If it was gulf view room with 2 queen beds.
The resort has community golf carts coming and going the stretch of the resort every 5 – 10 minutes, so our ride from the lobby to building 4 was approx 5 minutes (even with stopping at 1/2/3 along the way).
To access the room we were given hot pink bracelets that were cinched in a way that the only way to remove them would be to cut them off. You simply tapped the bracelet to the door and it would unlock. (Similar to a disney magic band)
We didn’t have any issues with these working throughout our trip!
Once in the room, the size was typical for a double queen hotel room.
HILTON TULUM PROS:
– Comfortable beds
– Pretty aesthetics + furniture (it’s a newer resort)
– Ample storage (night stand drawer,3 closet drawers,2 bench drawers + hanging rack with approx 10 hangers)
– Ocean view, with a decent size balcony
– Waterfall shower head + shower was large / walk in
– Quiet (we never had an issue with noise from our room)
– Multiple Pools
– Restaurants were pretty good overall, especially for an all inclusive
– Staff was very friendly
HILTON TULUM CONS:
– Room was wet, even with all doors sealed & AC running full blast the floor was constantly
– Sticky, bed sheets were damp, air was muggy, floor felt wet to the touch from moisture
– No fan in the bathroom stall (given the heat this not ideal for anyone) so I’d bring toilet spray > > >
– Smell (it didn’t smell amazing, given all the moisture in the room) but it also could have been from the piles of raked seaweed on the beach that were near our room
– Critters (there was a small spider + spider web in our room when we arrived) on the console and we were later greeted by a gecko. I should note that maintenance came quickly each time to address!
-Beach area is very small / rocky
– Room service is terrible
We stayed at the resort in January which is obviously one of the colder months, but our room stayed very warm. We didn’t want to see the ocean because it let more sun in & warmed our room VERY quickly.
We had a friend who was on a Lower ground level floor facing plants / greenery instead & the temperature in her room seemed to be stable with no moisture.
– – – –
We arrived later to the resort than we’d expected (forgot about the longer traffic coming in) so we quickly changed into our clothes for the welcome fiesta + dinner at La Luce, the on-site Italian restaurant.
I had not purchased the alcohol package & assumed I could buy drinks as desired but that was not the case. A bottle of moscato was $100usd so I opted to just drink water and wait for our appetizers. We were with a group so the alcohol options may be different for basic guests.
For an appetizer, I ordered the mozzarella + tomato pizza and it was fabulous! 10/10! It was quickly picked apart and devoured by others at our table and in hindsight I wished I had just ordered another for my Main course.
Instead, for the main course, I opted for blackened sea bass and was less than impressed. It had minimal flavor and the cook & texture were similar to salmon, but without the flavor.
However, Deseret was tiramisu and it was lovely!
I’d wished I’d ordered a cappuccino to Compliment it but I scarfed it down so that we could make it to the welcome fiesta downstairs.
Since we were there for a group, I am Not sure what the Hilton’s various events / nights are, but the 3 parties we attended while there were beautifully decorated, entertaining and with lots of delicious snacks (like churros and Mexican candy!) as well as beautiful views, since the party deck overlooks one of the main pools and the sea!
All in all our first day / night at the Hilton was a simple check on progress, a decent, yet muggy room and dinner was a hit & a miss.
We were excited to get to bed, & prep for everything day 2 had to offer! !
I had a photoshoot the next morning so I ordered room service at 7AM, but when I left at 8AM, it had yet to arrive.
You can see / learn more about the photoshoot in a later post.
(but here is a quick peak at Brandi Raines & her man)
When I returned around 1030 I was shocked to see how much food Tamara had left me. The room service breakfast was no bueno & she agreed that even piping hot , she was sadly disappointed. Sadly, we wouldn’t have a good room service experience the entire trip.
Thankfully, I didn’t care to eat the room service from breakfast as it was now nearly lunch, so I headed to the hotel bar in the main lobby. The outdoor patio area is beautifully curated & overlooks the pools and the beach.
There was no one there when I arrived, so I was seated very quickly and ordered nachos, guacamole and chicken wings.
There were swings (they’re all over the resort) hanging near me & I sat in one for a while, while waiting for my food (which took almost 40 minutes to arrive). The nachos arrived cold. The guacamole was good but the 5 chips that came with it were incredibly hard. The chicken wings had good flavor but were undersized, but they were the best thing I’d ordered, so I finished them before heading down to meet everyone on the beach. HINT: there is GREAT food at the Hilton Tulum but it’s not room service or the bar! It’s the buffet and a few of the onsite restaurants!
After snacking I headed to find our group, & while there were lounge chairs poolside & beachside, as I walked towards our group I was unable to find an empty one. When I made it to our group, I realized there weren’t even enough chairs for the girls already there, so I decided to go back to one of the lesser known pools ( Behind buildings 2/3) & try my luck there!
I snagged the first empty lounge I saw read a book until I started sweating! After a quick refreshing, yet (chilly) dip in the pool, I threw a towel on & headed back to our room for a quick nap before dinner.
I started getting ready for dinner around 5 and Tamara returned from the kid’s pool with churros and cotton candy. Churros we’re a 10 but the Cotton candy was a total fail.
For dinner, we headed to an Asian inspired dinner & it would end up being one of my Favorites! !
We had dinner at Noriku which features an Asian inspired menu & since we had such a large party, the severs asked if we’d be ok eating family style & they’d bring out appetizers & small plates for us all to share. Everything I ate was yummy, but the fried soft shell crab was my favorite!
The fresh tuna was smooth and the sushi rolls were delish too. I wasn’t fond of the octopus and the edamame needed salt, but overall the restaurant was a solid 8/10 (& for an all inclusive that’s pretty solid!)
We waddled out of our seats around 10PM & headed back to our rooms to catch some zzzzzs before day 3 !
Day 3 was the first official vacay day with nothing on the agenda other than the spa.
We woke up late and enjoyed the breakfast buffet for the first time in the main lobby. The fresh omelet station and pancake station were YUMMY, along with the selection of fruit and fresh juices! If I had to eat at the buffet for all three meals all 5 days, I would have been totally fine with it!
I’d suggest skipping room service, throwing on shoes & eating hereeeee anytime you’re hungry, between 7AM – 9PM 🙂
I’d woke up earlier than our group day 3 to secure us beach chairs since I didn’t have one the day before & it seems this was a trend, bc by the time we made it to the pool all of the loungers were claimed, either by bodies or unrolled towels.
We soaked up the sun until lunch time & when I called to confirm the girls could enjoy the spa amenities (hot tub and pool) with me at The Conrad next door, I was saddened to hear they were not allowed without paying a $100 fee.
This was very different from some of the other all inclusives I’d stayed at that allowed you to either enjoy the spa amenities complimentary or had a reasonable (<$25) daily access fee. (Hilton Tulum doesn’t have a spa so services are at the Conrad next door)
Don’t get me wrong, a spa day is always nice, but it’s certainly more fun with a friend or two to enjoy hydrotherapy before / during / after services.
The spa was absolutely beautiful and I’ll follow up with it + information on the Conrad in a later post. Although my technician was amazing, for the price, I likely wouldn’t go back (which is much different than my spa experience at Unico and Rosewood Mayakoba) ! ! !
It could have been because I was alone, or the very strong smell of the lobby which I didn’t particularly love, or the overall atmosphere of the shaded pool, but it was likely a mix of all three.
After the spa I headed back to the Hilton & changed & we quickly headed to dinner at Auma, which is the hotel’s version of a steakhouse.
The Brie appetizers were served with a few hard chips & were underwhelming but the fresh salads were unexpectedly yummy. The bread that was served right before the steak was the best part of the meal (in my opinion) though the fajita style skirt steak, chicken and shrimp were flavorful too!
The steaks we ordered were large, but the flavor wasn’t as good as our local roadhouse or longhorn.
The brownie dessert was overly rich & the cheesecake was similar to frozen ones here in the states, but the apple tart had a buttery top that tasted like dump cake from back home. Overall I give Auma a 5/10.
I should add Tamara thought Auma had the best mashed potatoes she’d ever eaten but I’ll assume she’s never made any of Paula Dean’s from scratch. I give the bread and potatoes an 8/10 but the rest was mediocre at best & easily preferred the food from Noriku the night before or even the buffet to Auma.
The hotel had entertainment that evening and the music was fabulous!
I wished we could have stayed and partied longer but we were exhausted from a day in the sun & wanted to get to our beds early (but not before an unexpected visitor from a lizard in our room!) I totes have to make that into a reel that lives on my IG grid foreverrrr.
Day 4 was our most relaxing day.
We enjoyed another breakfast at the buffet & spent the majority of the day at the smaller pool between buildings 2&3.
The sun held out most of the day but we never got hot enough to brave the frigid temps of the pools in January (though many did!)
For lunch we did the buffet & the live pasta station + fresh toasted bread was quite possibly some of the best things I ate at the resort!
Afterwards Tamara and I changed into cute fits & headed to the Conrad via van to use some of their amazing architecture as backdrops for a few fun photos of our trip.
That evening we dined at Auma again with friends (Tamara realllllllllllly loved the potatoes) & then partied the night away before leaving early the next morning to head back home.
Heads up, It is approximately 2 hours exactly, from Tulum to the airport due to ongoing road construction. It seemed it took longer to get back to the airport than it did to get from the airport to the resort. Even though checkout wasn’t until 12, it was suggested we leave at 8:30AM to make our 1:30PM flight.
The Cancún airport has a Starbucks outside of security which is super convenient & there is also fun shopping options once inside security!
We arrived around 10AM, so we had time to grab a coffee, get checked in, shop a while, grab lunch and then get on our plane which made the travel day feel a little easier!
Overall I give the Hilton Tulum a 6 / 10.
To RECAP The hotel lobby was beautiful, the breakfast & lunch buffet were delicious & the Asian inspired restaurant was one of the YUMMIEST I’ve eaten in Mexico! ! !The majority of the staff was welcoming, inviting and helpful! The coffee shop was fabulous as were the buffet options and the Asian inspired dishes at Noriku. However, our room never really cooled down, room service was horrible, beach chairs had to be secured, the beach wasn’t great (though being from Pensacola, I’m a tough critic!)
Some have asked which I prefer: the Hilton or the Conrad (they are side by side) & to answer, in short, I’d much prefer the Conrad for the seclusion, design & seemingly more upscale aesthetic, but since we didn’t stay there, I can’t speak much to the rooms or the food! Tamara preferred the Hilton over the Conrad for the liveliness, the proximity of the buildings to each other (& the main lobby) & also for the endless activities, like volleyball, water aerobics, pool games, dance parties and more.
If booking another adult’s only trip though, I’d easilyyyy chose UNICO for a week over the Hilton Tulum, but if price is an issue, I truly don’t think very many would be disappointed in their stay at the Hilton! It’s also likely that the atmosphere of Unico along with the food & atmosphere from Rosewood Myakoba has ruined me from being unbiased on trip recommendations for Mexico all together! Of course, if I was given a trip back to The Hilton Tulum (for my family) I’d absolutely go again ! ! ! But If I was planning a vacation of my own, I’d probably try somewhere new like the Nickelodeon All Inclusive.
I hope you enjoyed reading this.
We truly had an amazing time. Mexico is one of my favorite getaways and each time I go back I find something new I love.
From swimming with whale sharks over the great barrier reef, to renting a private boat & spending the day at Isla Mujeres, visiting one of the many incredible Cenotes and more, there is truly so much to see and do in Mexico!
I really do love it all!
Just don’t be stupid like me, & remember to call your bank to let them know you’re going out of town before you go & then don’t stuff everything into your checked bag (without weighing it) on the way home and always always always bring feminine hygiene products, even if it’s not time, because those babies are triple the cost.
Until next time,