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“best vacation” 5 of 5 stars
Review of El Acuario Hotel

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El Acuario Hotel
Av. 25 Norte entre 2 y 4 Norte Col. Centro, Playa del Carmen, Mexico   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #59 of 199 Hotels in Playa del Carmen
atlanta
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“best vacation”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2012

thanks to diane and staff had a wonderful 10 days--hope to return soon, because everyone made me feel like family--this is the REAL mexico, not some overpriced resort--love the breakfast in the "yellow shack" around the corner, please give my best to marshall there--i could go on and on but just need to say i miss it and love the mexican people...MIKE

Room Tip: probably any room would be excellent
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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153 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Vancouver Island, Canada
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2012 via mobile

We had the kitchenette on the 2nd level #202. Squeaky clean and the whitest freshest sheets ever! Air con, TV, free coffee, WIFI.

Mexican flare, clean, simple, safe and basic. Includes the friendliest cat named Coco who does her daily rounds of inspection and visiting.

Our room (as all rooms) overlook the pool and lovely well-kept garden area.

A few blocks to town but close to some of the tastiest (cheapest) local food around. Thanks Diane for your assistance.

  • Stayed February 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Tampere, Finland
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2012

I want to thank Diane with all her help to make our holiday perfect.
We stayed only 1 night, but we wanted to come back for our last days, unfortunately they were fully booked. Diane make all her best to help and find us the other hotel with the swimming pool.

Nice quiet place with nice colours.

KIITOS!

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Seattle
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2012

I stayed here for 2.5 weeks this month, telecommuting but also having some fun in Playa with relatives. Manager Diane & her team run a spotless, tidy and pleasant 12-unit oasis in the middle of a working-class neighborhood. Rooms are plain but cute, and there is always somebody cleaning, retouching the brightly colored paint, making more coffee, or helping guests. And while there is nothing particularly scenic about the location, as has been mentioned it's within easy walking distance of many resources. You can get a beach towel from housekeeping and walk 5 short blocks to the ocean, or read in the hammock on your patio, sit and doze under the big circular palapa or by the pristine pool, talk to other guests (a mix of Canada, Europe and US), and play with Coco the cat (who will appear on your patio when you come home if you give her some leftover chicken). Some rooms have a small kitchenette and some have a fridge only. (The one apartment has a lot more than that.) A fan, air conditioning, and a cable TV round things out. Oh, and wireless, without which I would not have been able to do my work. One caveat about that - the more guests on their laptops, the less bandwith there is, and this gave me occasional trouble with my connection. Diane was looking into getting a better modem when I left.

There's the best chicken joint in Playa (in a sort of 'cage' on 2nd and 20th that closes at 6 pm), the stores and banks within 2-3 blocks, Walmart, Megamart, etc. A nice casual breakfast place seemingly in somebody's 'back yard' - attached to the little grocery store across the street. Keep in mind that the streets in Playa jump by 2's from north to south, and from east to west jump in 5's. So 30th is NOT 5 blocks from 25th, but just one block. Playa is pretty walkable overall. Taxis are generally 25 to 30 pesos to most places in town.

A rental car tip: go online to Avis and book a car for the "downtown Playa" location, which is actually at Constituyentes and the highway. The rate will be much cheaper than anything you can get walking in. (For instance, a subcompact for a day with tax was $23 USD the 3 times we rented. This did not include the collision insurance but our credit card issuer covers that.) Book a day ahead so there's time to transmit your reservation to that location.

Although staying in this part of Playa is much quieter than anywhere else closer to 5th avenue, it's still a bit 'urban' feeling, so if you are looking for total beach-side relaxation and beauty, this is not it. But the rates are extremely fair for what you get, and their many repeat and long-term guests attest to the value of El Acuario. Diane has been the best manager they've had in years, from what I hear, so expect this place to be popular for many reasons among 'value-seeking' travelers. (Oh, yes, the beds are very firm, but better than too soft in my opinion!)

And the coffee - it's Koba brand that Diane gets at Sam's Club. I bought a bag to take back to the U.S. I don't even drink coffee but this stuff was GOOD! From the mountains of Chiapas.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
62 helpful votes 62 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2012

My husband and I spent our December holidays here and I'm so glad that I chose this place! The staff are so friendly (even though Diane is the only one who speaks English) and are always willing to please. They also have a pot of delicious Coba coffee brewing at all times in the reception area. The hotel grounds are well-kept and they even have a swimming pool, barbecue grills, a hammock, and a little cozy area by the pool that's perfect if you want to just chill and relax. After all, you are on vacation. :)

Our room is more than adequate enough for 2 adults and has a small kitchenette; it really helped us save some money by cooking our own meal at times. A clothesline is also provided (with clothespin) by your private patio area. The only complaint I have is that El Acuario, unlike most other hotels, DO NOT provide shampoo...they only provide a small bar of soap. Additionally, you won't find hair dryer in your room either, you have to borrow it from the reception (you're lucky if Diane is there because Fabiola did not understand what I wanted).

The hotel is strategically located to important places like the beach (5 short blocks), 5th Avenue (4 short blocks), WalMart (4 short blocks) and colectivos (around the corner). There's also plenty of hole-in-the-wall type restaurants and mini markets nearby.

Overall, this hotel served its purpose and I will definitely go back next time we're in Playa del Carmen again.

Room Tip: Our room is to the immediate right, from the reception, upper level. There's a little bit of to...
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2011 via mobile

stayed there for 2 weeks after we spontanously moved out of the appartement our language school provided. this hotel was recommended to us by some fellow students. the rooms were spacious and always clean, the staff very friendly and helpful. it was not only good value for money but a great place to stay. we had to change the room once and the second one was nearer to the street and noisier, that is why we gave only 4 points for the rooms and the location. but everything is reachable by foot and it takes just 5 minutes to the beach.

  • Stayed December 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 5, 2011

We absolutely love his hotel. Normally we would stay in a large, all inclusive resort, however since we decided to stay long term, we wanted something a little more authentic, with a Mexican feel.
My husband and I did a lot of research before actually booking the hotel. Because we were planning on staying long term, we decided to book a hotel for the first month, and then find a furnished apartment or condo for rent. I saw this hotel on a Playa del Carmen forum, otherwise I would have missed out.
Before we even arrived we recieved excellent customer service. Diane answered every email I wrote (and trust me, there were many), in a timely and efficient manner. Having worked in the hospitality industry as a travel agent and at several hotels, I appreciated the quick response, and the fact that she answered every one of my questions honestly. We changed our plans a few times, and it was no problem. Also the reviews on here helped me make my decision as well, because I was a little nervous booking a hotel sight unseen, or one that nobody I knew had been to.
When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised. The suite was just perfect for the 2 of us, it has a living room, dining room, kitchen, large master with king size bed, attached large bathroom with tub and shower, and a half bath as well. All appliances, kitchenware, plates, pans, etc. included. As a matter of fact, it is bigger than most of the condos we have seen in this price range. Nice furniture, a futon if guests stay, and a nice large balcony with hammock (that I can't get my husband out of!!). Because the suite is so nice, and we really love the layout of the hotel, the grounds and the pool, we decided just to stay here instead of renting somewhere else.
I can't stress how CLEAN this property is kept. Housekeeping and the front desk attendants are always sweeping and mopping the common areas, they make sure the lobby is kept very clean, they take care of the plants and landscaping, and keep it very nice. I am up early, and I always hear Maria sweeping at about 6am and getting everything ready for the day. We know everyone here, and they know us, even though we speak poquito Spanish and they speak poquito English. Every single person that works here is super friendly, and they will do all they can to help you out. If they don't understand you, they will find someone who will.
We also love the layout. It is set up like a mini fortress (but in a good way). There is concrete around the whole property, which I like, and there is one way in/out, so it is very secure. Nobody can come in or out without the front desk or Diane knowing, and someone is always here. The pool is very nice, not huge but it doesn't have to be because there are only 12 rooms plus the suite. It really feels more like a nice apartment complex to me. Usually I am the only one in the pool, I like to lounge on my raft and get a tan while taking a siesta!! If I am not the only one out there, usually it is 1 or 2 people besides me.
I had Diane show me a regular room as well. They are a nice size, I believe they all have a mini fridge, and some have hot plates. Nice, clean rooms.
The location of this property is great. 5 very short blocks to the beach, 4 to 5th Ave., 4 to Walmart, 5 to Mega (which is a great store by the way), with Aki in between (like Sam's), 2 to Benito Juarez (my favorite shoe shopping street) and lot's of local restaurants in between. Also the beach here is nice, not rocky, and it's about 5 blocks to the ferry to Cozumel ($60usd round trip). There is a mini super and nice authentic little restaurant across the street (yummy food). I can't tell you how many local restaurants we would have missed out on had we stayed in an all inclusive, and most of the restaurants are inexpensive and have great food. If you want fancier places, there are a ton on 5th Ave.
We have been here for 3 months, and because this feels like an apartment complex, we do feel like we are home. We get to meet lot's of people who stay at the property, which is nice. There is also a hotel cat named Coco who visits us. That helps me out because I had to leave my dog at home!
Very comfortable clean hotel. If you are looking for a 5 star with dining, room service and an expensive nightly rate, this isn't the property for you. If you are looking for a nice, authentic Mexican property, that is clean and has friendly staff, then you will like it here.
I can say our mattress is a little hard, but after being here for 3 months we have gotten used to it. As a matter of fact, my husband who has back problems has had better luck with this firm mattress than he did with our sleep number bed at home. There are little sugar ants here, but this is Mexico and I see them everywhere, even in the jewelry store. If you ask they will spray at your request, and since we have been here they have sprayed on a regular basis anyway. We have not seen any roaches in the room, as one other person said they did. There is not a restaurant here, but there are plenty within walking distance. And there is a grill outside, which we have used several times.
We really do love it here, and hopefully will get to stay for a whole year. So far we have not had any problems, as a matter of fact it is better than living at home, because housekeeping cleans our room and does our laundry for us (we give her a nice tip!!).

Room Tip: We love, love, love the suite!!! Great for a long term getaway.
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about El Acuario Hotel

Address: Av. 25 Norte entre 2 y 4 Norte Col. Centro, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Riviera Maya > Playa del Carmen
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Best Value Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#52 Romantic Hotel in Playa del Carmen
#53 Family Hotel in Playa del Carmen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
El Acuario Hotel is a charming Caribbean hotel with only 12 rooms and one Suite. Located downtown Playa del Carmen, just a few minutes walk from the beach and the pedestrian shopping avenue. Beautiful, calm, relaxing, we offer an ideal environment for your family vacation or business trip! All our rooms are equipped with air conditioning, ceiling fan, cable TV, fridge (or kitchenette), table and chairs, private bathroom with shower, and a spacious terrace with hammock and view to the tropical garden and swimming-pool. The Suite is available for mid- to long-term rentals (minimum one month), and has one bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms, living room with sofa bed, dining room, fully equipped kitchen and large terrace with view to the pool. Common areas: large tropical garden, swimming-pool, barbecue and palapa area. Services: free coffee, wireless Internet, 24-hours front desk, laundry, concierge, massages. We look forward to receiving you!!! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Acuario Hotel Riviera Maya/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

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