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A look of confusion was slowly forming on my face as I looked around, trying to find a clue as to where the hotel lobby was. Aside from the tiny hut, the parked bikes and the singing birds, there were zero signs of life. It was strange that no one was around to welcome guests; even boutique hotels had lobbies, didn't they?
My non-English speaking driver, having been paid, set my duffel bag on the ground and retreated back to his cab, ready to leave. I gave him a look of desperation and asked in broken Spanish if he was sure we were in the right place. He vigorously nodded in response, repeatedly saying "Si, NEST," before leaving me to figure it out on my own.
To my relief, a quick peek inside the hut told me that I was in fact at the right place. A small sign requested that I leave my bags there and follow the narrow path to the restaurant where someone would be waiting to check me in. How quaint! Strangely pleased with this offbeat check-in experience, I did what I was told. I dumped my bags in the welcome hut, kicked off my shoes, and made my way down the sandy path.
And so began my dreamy love affair with NEST Tulum.
Snuggled along Tulum's famously bohemian hotel zone, NEST Tulum is incredibly enchanting. When owner James Chippendale first envisioned the hotel, he simply wanted it to be one thing: an intimate place where guests can feel like they've come home. But his eye and passion for design inevitably turned it into the stuff gypset dreams are made of.
[READMORE]READ MORE: Why Tulum Is an American Favorite[/READMORE]
Telltale signs of Chippendale's knack for superb yet low-key and welcoming design is obvious enough. The path that meanders through the property, for example, is mostly utilitarian, providing access to each of the sun-kissed cabins that make up the small boutique property. However, it's also inexplicably idyllic: narrow, tree-lined and light-dappled.
At the end of this path is the hotel's small restaurant and bar, newly opened and hidden amidst a cluster of palm trees that opens out into a quiet beach. It's very cozy, furnished with rustic tables and chairs, and set outdoors-perfect for indulging in that delightful breakfast spread of yogurt, granola, fruit, eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice and a shot of probiotic drink that the hotel offers complimentary to all its guests.
The rest of the dishes on offer, however, are best enjoyed at the beach where you can relax to the sounds of the lapping waves. Flourished with comfortable cabanas, hammocks and beach beds, as well as Instagram-worthy views of the sunrise and the moon rising over the ocean, it's easily the most romantic and most photogenic part of the hotel. I spent many hours here, alternating between feasting on yummy roasted pumpkin seeds, shrimp ceviche and beef tacos served fresh from the kitchen, and taking sweet, sweet slumbers.
It's the nine gorgeous rooms and villas that are the real shoo-ins here, however. Every room at NEST Tulum is spacious and well-appointed with bohemian aesthetics that flaunt traditional Mexican textures-exquisite wood furniture made by Mexican craftsmen, the coziest mattress with the plushiest beddings, comfy robes and slippers, throw blankets from all over Mexico, a hammock, beautiful woven lamps, and lovely bathroom amenities sourced from a local vendor. Even the whimsical keychains attached to every room key-yes, they use actual keys and padlocks-are locally made.
Yet no two rooms are decorated the exactly same. Each one of the nine rooms boasts its own unique features and, consequently, its own personality. My own second floor Tower Two room (from $305 a night) has two balconies, a mid-century modern rocker, a reading nook, an indoor hammock as well as an outdoor one, and a shower area with a big airy window that somewhat gives it the illusion of being outdoors. Plus, it has the added bonus of having direct access to the tower rooftop where two additional hammocks and a panoramic view of the coast await.
My favorite part here is the amazing king size bed, which is set in the middle of the room and faces the double doors that lead out into the balcony. A quiet, lazy afternoon in that bed with those doors thrown open is an afternoon well spent.
Those with a slightly bigger budget might prefer staying at one of the two Ocean rooms (from $315 per night), in which they can enjoy an ocean view terrace as well as a luxurious, stand alone tub that sits on a makeshift "second floor" space accessible only by a wooden ladder.
[READMORE]READ MORE: 5 Quick Tips For Enjoying the Tulum Ruins[/READMORE]
What really makes NEST Tulum worthy of the pilgrimage is its tranquil atmosphere. There are no television sets or iPhone docks in any of the rooms; nor is there a pool onsite, making room for more organic endeavors. Even with other guests there it also feels isolated, as if it was just you, and a glass of lime margarita, your thoughts and the warm, shallow waters to keep you company.
What makes NEST Tulum worthy of the pilgrimage is that it's wildly beautiful, untrammeled, unassuming, and just the perfect spot to completely disconnect and unspool. And maybe take a few, well-deserved naps right on the beach.
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Michelle Rae Uy is a Los Angeles-based writer, photographer and traveler with a bad case of wanderlust.
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