When planning a trip to Cancun, you can choose between staying in the Hotel Zone or in downtown Cancun (also known as "El Centro"). The two areas are very different, but each place has its advantages.
The Hotel Zone has huge nightclubs, great beaches, and miles of comfortable beachfront hotels. Millions of people visit Cancun each year. The vast majority of them stay in the Hotel Zone and never set foot in downtown Cancun. Those people never get a true taste of Mexico and don't fully experience everything Cancun has to offer.
Downtown Cancun is a typical city, where most of the locals live. It is only a couple of miles from the entrance to the Hotel Zone and the beaches on the Caribbean Sea are only about a 20-minute bus or taxi ride from downtown Cancun. In downtown Cancun, you'll find supermarkets, shopping malls, incredible Mexican food (both in fine-dining establishments, as well as from street vendors and the little take-out restaurants in El Parque de las Palapas), and affordable, conveniently-located hotels. Budget-minded travelers or people that wish to experience what life is really like in Mexico, will find that downtown Cancun a great alternative to the glitz and glitter of the Hotel Zone.
Krystal Urban Cancun-Malecon is one of downtown Cancun's newest and nicest hotels. It is the perfect spot for business travelers or families. It is within walking distance of Plaza Las Americas mall, Malecon Americas mall, nice restaurants and bars, and Plaza de Toros, which is packed with bars and restaurants. This high-rise hotel has views of downtown Cancun or of Nichutpe Lagoon and the Hotel Zone.
For a bit of Mexican flavor, Xbalamque is a great choice. The hotel is filled with original artwork and the outside of the hotel is a work of art in itself. It is covered with a beautiful, intricately-painted Mayan mural. There is a pool surrounded by lush foliage and a small spa where you can get inexpensive but very nice spa treatments. The hotel is walking distance from Cancun's largest and most popular market, Mercado 28 (Market 28), as well as from restaurants, bars, Parque de las Palapas, Walmart, Sam's Club, and bus stops where you can catch the bus to the Hotel zone.
Less-expensive lodging options include the brand new La Quinta Inn & Suites Cancun, Hotel Ibis Cancun Centro, City Express Cancun and City Express Junior Cancun.