This is a long review, but well worth reading if you're considering staying at Hotel Las Palmas.
I've often wondered, "Who stays in those freaky little hotels downtown with no ocean view, no pool, no beach?" I actually stayed in one many years ago in Cozumel because, while staying on the mainland, I got stuck on the island after the last ferry left. What can I say, it was a bed..., the price was right and all I needed was a place to sleep. That's not the impression you'll get at Hotel Las Palmas. It's not scary looking at all. In fact, quite the contrary.
I rated this Hotel with only 2 stars because I, personally, cannot recommend it. It is definitely NOT for everyone. Bottom line: there is just not enough privacy here, there is no place to sit in privacy, and I'm not much on the 1970's type Bohemian, communal atmosphere. Don't misunderstand, I was a Hippie back in the 60s and 70s, but I sort of grew out of it and have a greater need for privacy. For the same reason,I never go to my community HOA clubhouse back home. I really don't want to be forced to socialize when all I want is some privacy.
Hotel Las Palmas is this quirky little hotel situated right across from the lunch counters by the Municipal Marketplace (by the Post Office). I watched the renovations take place here over a period of time and wondered whether it was being renovated as a hotel or a private residence. Its front door is street level like so many residential properties.
Then I saw the outside being painted in the style of what I'd call fresco. I'm pretty sure it's Kate (owner) who does the painting, but it's more than stenciling... I'm pretty sure she does it freehand. The exterior and interior walls of the Hotel are all painted with tropical palms, vines, faux window sills and related tropical themes. Keep in mind that this Hotel is in a very URBAN setting. The frescoes help the atmosphere a lot....and the fact that the frescoes are on the outside of the Hotel, it brings a lot of attention to this otherwise unnoticeable Hotel.
There is no beach, or big pool, at this site. You have to walk about two blocks to get to Playa Norte (North Beach) which is the nicest beach on Isla for swimming.
So now the curious want to know what goes on at that Hotel with all the frescoes painted on the outside wall. Guests come and go using the main door, but you can't just walk in the main door...you need a key. There are times the main door is ajar, but I think they pretty much frown on that because the guests of the Hotel expect security and privacy within the Hotel.
Step inside the Hotel, but don't expect a lobby. To the left is the "library" sitting area. A ton of books to choose from, and some seating available, but it is poorly lit for a library unless it is daytime and you happen to be sitting directly by the front window. This ONE prime seating spot was usually taken by the time we got there, and the elderly gentleman who sat there every day rarely left his post. We had to find another place to read. I got the impression this elderly gentleman was quite possibly related to the owner and actually lived at the Hotel. One day I felt lucky and sat in the prime seating spot, and he told me that I was in his seat...he had simply left his "spot" to eat breakfast.
The hotel has a central open-air floor plan (like a courtyard)surrounded (as in a perimeter) by ground level guest rooms. When it rains, the courtyard floor gets wet as does the outdoor furnishings in this area. In this open-air courtyard, there are plants, a table and chairs with a sun umbrella, a community refrigerator and coffee station which is on the honor system...I didn't use it but I think it had a suggested offering of $1 USD for coffee. There was also a few candy bars in that area for sale, also on the honor system. At times, I noticed a "sewer type" smell eminating from the grating on the floor of this open-air space.
From the entrance, just to the left of this open-air courtyard, is the Office. It was not readily recognizable as an office. There was so much stuff (furniture, storage boxes, clothing, toys, all manner of stuff) in the room that I had a hard time deciphering whether it was an office, storage room or someone's living quarters. We just sort of hung around that area waiting for one of the two owners to find us. I will say that the two owners (mother/daughter : kate/safari) are very sweet people. But I wasn't there to visit them, I was there to chill out, relax and enjoy Isla.
Walk beyond the open-air courtyard on this ground floor and there are steps that go to the second floor rooms, again all rooms are on the perimeter as the center of the Hotel is open to the elements. All the rooms are off a "walkway" perimeter, which does not provide for any veranda-type outdoor seating by your room. There is a seating area provided at the end of the walkway, closest to the street where you can watch street traffic, market traffic, and diners at the lunch counters. Thankfully it is smoke-free, (but not noise-free) and for the most part protected from the outside elements (sun/rain) because there is decking above the area which provides flooring for the rooftop. We chose to sit in this area because it was smoke-free. The decking above it made the area a little dark. It was noisy, but don't forget your are in an urban setting at this Hotel.
The steps continue to go up to the rooftop level of the Hotel. They have recently put in a big kitchen for guests to use. It is a community kitchen and although we didn't use it, it seemed to have enough pots and pans and plates for those who might want to use it. One couple used it regularly for breakfast, but I get the impression it does not get the use they expected it would when they built it. It's probably GREAT for people who stay here on a longer-term basis, or for the family who owns the hotel. Evidently, there are people who do have extended stays here...and they get a discount on the rate as a result.
The rooftop kitchen is covered, but the refrigerator in this kitchen is for the owners only. However, every room now has its own mini-fridge, so you have a place to store your perishables. There is another coffee station at this rooftop kitchen, again the honor system. We tried the coffee once and found it to be entirely too strong. We skipped coffee at the hotel after that, and went across the street to the lunch counters (they're open for breakfast too) to have morning coffee and breakfast.
Let me stop here right now to amplify the following statement: The best thing about this hotel is that it is directly across the street from the lunch counters. All three lunch counters are open-air, home-style cooking, and very affordable. The other plus is that the lunch counters are by the municipal marketplace where you can buy freshly squeezed fruit juices, and all manner of food and groceries.
Let's go back to the rooftop...next to the rooftop kitchen is a large dining table and chairs, all covered with a large tarp/canopy to protect it from sun and rain. Since there is NO Smoking elsewhere in the Hotel, smokers go to the rooftop to choke themselves on their cigarettes. This one large, canopied table and chairs is chock full of smokers. You have to walk past it to get to an alternate seating area on the rooftop.
There are smaller tables with chairs on the rooftop and some beach-type chaise, but there is no protection from the sun. It's unfortunate that this one place in the Hotel that is bright, but offers no seating with protection (umbrellas, large potted palms?)from the sun...unless you sit at the smokers' table. This could and should be remedied by the placement of a few sun umbrellas that can tilt for shade at different times of the day, or some large potted palms like the ones on the ground floor courtyard space. They could make much more of that roof-top space with emphasis on relaxation. I believe they are adding some additional "guest rooms" on the roof top level.
There is a roof-top dipping pool. It's really no bigger than a hot tub, and we did not go in it. In the week we were there, I only saw one person in the dipping pool for a brief period of time. If they made the roof-top a little more like an oasis, (palm trees, sun umbrellas, etc.)I believe it would enhance this space and make it more utilized. But then again, there's the smokers who are right next to it and that's a real downer for me. Perhaps they should put some kind of dividing wall between the smokers table, the kitchen and the rest of the roof-top. Even on the roof-top, I think there should be a designated section for smoking...but that is not the case here. I found out my last day there that there is a half-bath on the roof-top level. I didn't actually see the half-bath, but someone described it as a toilet with a door. Hey, it beats having to go back to your room....I think.
Allow me to describe the guest rooms. Of course, I can only accurately describe my own guest room, but I peaked in open doors and they're all pretty much the same from what I could see. They're small. Just enough room for the two double beds, one bedside table between the beds, and a mini-fridge. There is one window which faces the central open-air courtyard and perimeter walkway. Whether you're in a ground floor or second floor room, there is not enought light from this ONE window because there is always another level of rooms (or decking) above you.
There is fresco-style paining in the rooms. It helps. But the room is so small and the only place you can sit is on the bed, you won't spend much time in your room. In their favor, the owners went to the trouble to put as many clothing hooks all throughout the room, which is really great for vcation-style hangers. There is a small closet but aside from a few hangers, they have those canvas-type cubbies that hang from the clothes pole. These cubbies are a great idea because there is no dresser in the room and no shelving in the room for your clothing. This is a smart, space-saving idea. I use these in my own closet at home. Between the hanging closet-cubbies, and the hooks on the walls/doors, there is a place to put your clothing.
The separate bathroom has a door. It is a private bathroom but there is no window...at least in mine there wasn't. It has one sink, a toilet and a shower. At least it didn't have that "sewer smell" eminating from the toilet. But we did keep the bathroom door closed at all times except when passing through it.
In the corridor near the steps, there were beach towels for your use. It was on the honor system. Just use it for the week and put it back when you're done. After you use the towel, you just hang it over the railing outside your room (if on the second floor) or on the hooks outside your door. You can also hang your wet bathing suit there, but there was a clothesline on the rooftop for your beach clothing as well. You use the same towel until you think it's past its prime. But there was no clear indication where to put the used towels.
We thought it a bit "over the top" to see mosquito netting available over the beds in our room. After a few bites, we decided it was necessary. The door to the room was so ill-fitting that there were gaps of more than an inch or two between the door and its frame. February/March is not necessarily a high mosquito season (as later in the summer might be) but it was open season on my plump flesh with those gaps in the doorway.
There is no safe in the room in which to keep your valuables. We didn't have a problem, and relied on the honesty of the housekeeping staff. We were very careful to not leave our room door ajar. The front door to the hotel was often ajar during the day and anyone could have come in from the street and help themselves to any manner of things. This was a little bit upsetting since Isla Mujeres is DEFINITELY a CASH island. We had two weeks worth of cash (including hotel fees) sitting in our hotel room.
We stayed 8 days and then another 5 days at a different hotel on the beach. We were really ready to leave after the first few days at Hotel Las Palmas. It was just not for us. And I'll be honest, I'm a pretty laid back person and my expectations were not that hight, but the constant lack of privacy was too much for us. The only privacy we got was when we stayed inside our room, which was small and dark. That's no way to spend a vacation.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC