Isla Mujeres  has a wide variety of lodging options, from youth hostels to upscale boutique hotels. Most budget and mid-range places are in the centro, while higher-end resorts occupy secluded areas farther down the island. The latter means renting a golf cart or taking taxis (or else never leaving the hotel grounds, which may be just what you’re looking for!).
A true backpacker’s scene, Poc Na Hostel (Av. Matamoros near Av. Lazo, tel. 998/877-0117, www.pocna.com , US$6.25 pp camping, US$8.75–11.25 pp dorm, US$13.50 pp dorm with a/c, US$22.50 s/d with shared bathroom, US$24.25 s/d, US$25–32 s/d with a/c) is a labyrinth of sorts, with campsites, dorms (including one for women only), private rooms, and lounges tucked into every nook. Dorm rooms have 6–10 bunks each and are priced by the thickness of the mattress (thin, thinner, and thinnest); private rooms have cement floors and whitewashed walls, some with air-con and cable TV. The airy common area has food service and free Wi-Fi; another room has foosball and a pool table. Poc Na also hosts live music on Sunday and organizes frequent activities—from volleyball tournaments to Isla Contoy  excursions. Plus the island’s best beach is a three-minute walk away. All in all, it’s a great place to hang out with travelers from all over the world. The drawbacks are no kitchen access and a serious risk of never seeing Maya ruins because you can’t bring yourself to leave. Visa and MasterCard accepted.
Don’t let the reluctant service at the Hotel Osorio (Av. Madero near Calle Juárez, tel. 998/877-0294, US$21 s, US$25 d, US$34 s/d with a/c, TV, and minifridge) dissuade you from staying here. The rooms are old-school—mint-green floors, peach-colored walls, and flowery bedspreads—but they’re super clean. Rooms are located in two separate buildings across the street from one another; opt for the rooms on the east side of the street—they are in better shape and get better light.
If you’ve outgrown hostels but your wallet hasn’t, the bright purple Hotel Carmelina (Av. Guerrero 4, tel. 998/877-0006, US$30 s/d with fan, US$33 s with a/c, US$41 d with a/c) is a decent choice. It has a slight residential-motel feel (the managers live in a few ground-floor rooms, and another room houses a manicure shop), but the rooms are clean and have hot water. There are only a few rooms with air-conditioning, so be sure to call ahead if you want dibs.
As close as you can get to boutique for under a hundred bucks, Casa El Pío (Av. Hidalgo near Av. Bravo, no phone, www.casaelpio.com , US$65–72 s/d with a/c) is a four-room hotel with cool minimalist decor accented with splashes of color here and there. Rooms are spacious and comfortably equipped with good beds, separate seating areas, balconies, and Wi-Fi; each also has a minifridge, coffeemaker, and a cutting board for light food preparation. If you can, snag room 3 or 4—each has ocean views, albeit small ones. There’s also a mosaic-tile plunge pool, perfect for cooling off after a day at the beach. Adults only.
Hotel Kinich (Av. Juárez near Av. Matamoros, tel. 998/877-0791, www.kinichsoltours.com , US$62.50–71 s/d with a/c, US$109 suite with a/c) is a great find in downtown Isla: Rooms are elegantly simple with espresso-colored wood furnishings, muted colors, and Mexican wall art from Guadalajara. All rooms have quiet air-con, cable TV, and Wi-Fi, and more than half of them also have king-size beds. Two gorgeous suites occupy the top floor—modern one-bedroom apartments with state-of-the-art kitchens, outdoor Jacuzzis, and views of town. The only downer is that the hotel occupies a four-story building with no elevator—at the very least, you’ll get your workouts in.
Hotel Xbulu-Ha (Av. Guerrero btwn Avs. Abasolo and Madero, tel. 998/877-1783, www.isla-mujeres.net/hotelxbuluha , US$50 s/d with a/c, US$71 suite with a/c, US$84 one bdrm apt with a/c) offers bright and airy rooms with modern amenities like satellite TVs, minifridges, quiet air-conditioning, and safety deposit boxes. The beds are double sized—something to consider if you plan on sharing. Suites are larger versions of the standard rooms, with fully equipped kitchenettes and king-size beds; there also are one-bedroom apartments, including a wheelchair-accessible one on the ground floor. Wi-Fi and beach supplies (towels, chairs, and coolers) are included in the rate. Located just one block from the Caribbean.
Hotel Las Palmas (Av. Guerrero near Av. López Mateos, cell. tel. 998/236-5803, www.laspalmasonisla.com , US$80 s/d with a/c, US$90 s/d with a/c and kitchenette) is a homey hotel run by a mother-daughter team. Rooms are small and simple in decor but have amenities travelers often seek—pressurized water (plus reliable hot water), quiet air-con, pillow-top beds, Wi-Fi, minifridges, even full-length mirrors. There also are lots of common spaces for guests to relax and socialize—a small reading room with books and board games, an interior leafy courtyard with a handful of tables, and a rooftop sundeck complete with lounge chairs, hammocks, and a plunge pool. There is a minimum stay of five days; discounted rates are available for stays of 10 days or more.
Somewhat out of place on this laid-back island is Bahía Chac-Chi (Av. Rueda Medina near Av. Allende, tel. 998/877-1797, www.bahiachacchi.com , US$80 bay view, US$70 pool view, including breakfast), a sleek hotel that oozes cool, with gleaming white floors, minimalist decor, and original fine art. Rooms themselves have all the amenities of a high-end hotel—plasma TVs, central air-con, thick beds, hydromassage showers—plus balconies with incredible ocean views. An inviting pool is tucked into an interior courtyard. The only thing missing—other than boho spirit—is the beach; that’s just a five-minute walk away.
Elements of the Island (Av. Juárez btwn Avs. López Mateos and Matamoros, cell. tel. 998/274-0098, www.elementsoftheisland.com , US$85 s/d with a/c) is a three-room hotel with fine wood furnishings, flowing white curtains, and bursts of color. All rooms have king-size beds, Wi-Fi, and TVs with DVD players. They also have small kitchenettes with minifridges and microwaves for light cooking. Guests pass through a leafy courtyard with a gurgling fountain to access the rooms, which are behind the hotel’s restaurant. Common spaces include a hot tub and hammock area as well as a rooftop yoga studio. The only downer here is the late-night beats from nearby nightclubs—ask for a room on a lower floor to minimize the noise, especially on weekends.
Suites Los Arcos (Av. Hidalgo near Av. Abasolo, tel. 998/877-1343, www.suiteslosarcos.com , US$70–80 s/d with a/c) offers large, colorful rooms with gleaming bathrooms and heavy wood furnishings. All have a small fridge and microwave for snacks and leftovers. Four of the 12 rooms have balconies—those overlooking the pedestrian walkway are great for people watching, while those on the opposite side of the building are huge—perfect for sunbathing.
Hotel & Restaurant Bucaneros (Calle Hidalgo near Av. Madero, tel. 998/877-1228, toll-free Mex. tel. 800/227-4765, www.bucaneros.com , US$42–58 s/d with a/c, US$68–75 s/d with a/c and kitchenette) has 16 nicely appointed rooms, all with modern bathrooms, air-conditioning, and Wi-Fi. Basic rooms can be a bit stuffy, but those with a kitchenette (i.e., hot plate, minifridge, and toaster) are larger, often with a balcony and a separate dining area. Both are decent deals, considering the location.
A colonial-style home turned boutique inn, Casa Sirena (Av. Hidalgo near Av. Bravo, no phone, www.sirena.com.mx , US$135–155 s/d with a/c) has just six rooms, all sumptuously appointed with teak furnishings, Tiffany lamps, stone-tiled bathrooms, and extras like iPod docks and laptop-size safes; some rooms also boast beautiful Talavera tile floors. A full Mexican breakfast—huevos divorciados, enfrijoladas, chicken enchiladas—is served daily (except Sunday) on the small, leafy patio. Every evening, guests also enjoy a happy hour with the gregarious owner, who serves up potent cocktails on the rooftop terrace. Other features include two plunge pools (one with Venetian glass tiles), a sundeck with almost 360-degree views of the Caribbean, and Wi-Fi. Online reservations required; adults only.
Next door to Hotel Secreto, Hotel la Media Luna (Sección Rocas 9–10, tel. 998/877-0759, www.playamedialuna.com , US$50 rustic room with a/c, US$120–145 s/d with a/c, US$200 suite with a/c) is another of the centro’s top hotels, with clean, classic rooms, many with small balconies and the same excellent ocean view as its neighbor. The decor and amenities aren’t as modern as Secreto’s—hello boxy, old-school air-conditioners—but the pool area is much roomier, and suites have large terraces and private whirlpool tubs. There also are three somewhat dated “rustic rooms” (i.e., standard issue hotel rooms with garden views) that are comfortable enough and a screaming deal to boot. All in all a good value, especially in the off-season.
The boutique Casa Ixchel (Av. Martínez Ross at Carr. Perimetral, tel. 998/888-0107, www.casaixchelisla.com , US$64–181 s/d with a/c, US$208 one-bdrm apt with a/c, US$353 three-bdrm apt with a/c) has just 10 rooms, all with names like Grace, Karma, and Serenity. Standard rooms are tiny, suites have a bit more breathing room, and you can actually unpack your bags in the apartments. But even in the small quarters, each room has a deep bathtub, luxurious beds, and classy decor; the apartments have fully equipped kitchens, too. There are great ocean views from the pool and patio area, though for swimming in the ocean—and eating—you’ll have to head into town. Children over 12 only, except during Easter, Christmas, and summer, when all ages are welcome.
The adults-only Villa La Bella (Carr. Perimetral, tel. 998/888-0342, www.villalabella.com , US$135 s/d with a/c, US$165 palapa suite, US$195 suite with a/c) is run by an amiable American couple who give personalized service to their guests. Six units in all, ground-floor rooms have whimsical decor and are notably brighter than the palapa-roofed units. The honeymoon suite is as colorful as the standard rooms but has the added bonus of fantastic ocean views from its two terraces. There also is a well-maintained pool on-site. Complimentary breakfast is included and served in the eclectic open-air lounge. Taxis pass by frequently, though many guests rent golf carts for their stay.
The best hotel in the downtown area is Hotel Secreto (Sección Rocas 11, tel. 998/877-1039, www.hotelsecreto.com , US$225–300 s/d with a/c), an angular glass and stucco hotel exuding discreet, understated class. Modern rooms have native stone floors, plasma TVs, iPod docks, CD players, pillow-top mattresses, fine linens, and huge private balconies with lounge chairs and fabulous ocean views, especially from the 2nd and 3rd floors. A long narrow infinity pool is framed by a wide wooden patio, with comfortable deck chairs and a small bar. The rooms and pool overlook the attractive (though often very rough) Playa Media Luna. Continental breakfast is included. An on-site spa and gym also were in the works.
Hotel Villa Rolandi (Carr. Sac Bajo 15–16, tel. 998/999-2000, www.villarolandi.com , US$307–389 s/d with a/c) is a Mediterranean-style hotel on Isla’s calm southwestern shore. Romance is the buzz word here, with virtually every suite boasting a private terrace with whirlpool tub, a two-person shower, and steam bath. Continental breakfast at the hotel’s excellent oceanfront restaurant is included. The concierge can organize personalized excursions around the island, but many guests simply stay put, enjoying the infinity pool, the hotel beach, and the full-service spa. Complimentary yacht service to and from Cancún’s Playa Linda is included, too. Children over age 13 only.
If you feel like lingering for a while in Isla Mujeres —and who doesn’t?—consider booking an apartment or private home. There are a surprising number available, both in town and down island, running the gamut in size and price, and available by the week or month. Check out the options at agencies like Lost Oasis (www.lostoasis.net ) and Isla Beckons (www.islabeckons.com ), which specialize in Isla Mujeres, or at Vacation Rentals by Owner (www.vrbo.com ).