What It’s Like to Stay at the New Waldorf Astoria Cancun, the Luxury Oceanfront Resort With a Mayan Soul

Welcome to Checking In, a new review series in which our editors and contributors rate the best new (and revamped) luxury hotels based on a rigorous—and occasionally tongue-in-cheek—10-point system: Each question answered “yes” gets one point. Will room service bring you caviar? Does your suite have its own butler? Does the bathroom have a bidet? Find out below.

Waldorf Astoria Cancun

Waldorf Astoria Cancun: Deluxe Oceanfront King Guestroom
The Deluxe Oceanfront King Guestroom.

Describe the hotel in 3 words: Luxury, Mayan style.

What’s the deal?
One of the world’s most recognizable luxury hotel brands, the Waldorf Astoria opened its Cancun location last November, its second property in Mexico. The moniker feels like something of a misnomer, however. True, it’s only a 15-minute drive from Cancun International Airport, but the 173-key property, which sits on a 100-acre coastline, feels completely removed from the tourist energy for which the area has become known.

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Not unlike its peers, the hotel looks like a landlocked cruise liner from afar, but it differentiates itself in meaningful ways: Inside, guests are welcomed with a calming neutral-tone palette (think whites, beiges, and blue accents) set against marble floors and soaring ceilings. Meaningful nods to Mayan culture—from artwork to cuisine—abound, serving as frequent guideposts for your experience. That commitment helps Waldorf Astoria Cancun deliver much more than a cookie-cutter luxury beach vacation.

The lobby.
The lobby.

The accommodations here make an impressive promise. Every single one of the rooms offers a balcony with a private plunge pool; most come with ocean views. Of course, if you’ve come to Cancun, you’re here to get some sun. To make that happen there are two discrete infinity pools on the property, not to mention the expansive beach. The hotel spa, meanwhile, has eight indoor and 13 outdoor treatment rooms, so you don’t have to sacrifice the fresh air to rejuvenate. It also has a full-size hydrotherapy pool.

The best room: The crown jewel of the property is most certainly the oceanfront two-bedroom presidential suite. Ideal for families, the expansive unit can accommodate up to six adults. It comes with multiple private balconies and an extended terrace that has its own large plunge pool, daybeds, and outdoor dining table—all of which enjoy the same gobsmacking ocean vistas. The interior offers its own perks. A soaking tub will let you enjoy your own private hydrotherapy experience. And if you need some in-room entertainment, there’s a pool table, a library, and a private screening room for that movie night in.

Waldorf Astoria Cancun's Presidential Suite
The living room inside Waldorf Astoria Cancun’s Presidential Suite.

The bedrooms both come with plush king-size beds and glass-enclosed showers overlooking one of the balconies. In addition to the spacious living room, a separate indoor dining area seats up to 10. And those staying three nights or longer enjoy some impressive benefits: The fully appointed kitchen comes completely stocked and is replenished daily. An in-suite breakfast for up to six will be delivered every morning. And, as if that weren’t enough, each adult in the room gets one 30-minute spa treatment and a complimentary Mayan-cuisine cooking class (which I highly recommend). Conclusion: Stay a while.

Waldorf Astoria Cancun, Presidential Suite balcony and terrace.
The balconies for the Presidential Suite overlook a full-size terrace with its own plunge pool.

The Rundown

Did they greet you by name at check-in?
Yes, and you can be sure they will remember it. The staff here stakes its claim on recall, knowing who you are and what you like, and that begins the moment you enter. Even better, there’s no stuffy counter check in. Guests are welcomed into a grand lobby where a Waldorf Astoria employee sits down with you on the comfort of a plush sofa to check you in. The best part: Because there’s no counter, there’s no queue of any kind.
Welcome drink ready and waiting when you arrived? Bonus point if it wasn’t just fruit juice.
Not only was a drink waiting for us, but the hotel asked us our preference on the ride from the airport. When we arrived, two spicy cucumber margaritas greeted us. The result was a very chill check-in complete with drink in hand.

Does the resort have a standout perk?
For those who want more than just a hotel-on-the-beach experience, the property leans heavily into Mayan culture. This is expressed beautifully—and deliciously—in the Mayan cuisine cooking demo. Over the course of about two hours, you’ll learn every step that goes into making four Mayan dishes directly from the kitchen’s talented chefs. As we sipped a Kukulkan Smoke—a hibiscus and ginger cocktail made with a local anise liquor called Xtabentút—the chefs showed us how to make Siqil Pak (a kind of Mayan hummus dip), Adobo Lobster Tlyuda (like a deep-dish lobster tostada), Yucatecan Octopus Panchutos (grilled octopus on corn tortilla), and Tres Leches Cake. You’ll be given an apron and invited behind the counter to get as hands on as you like. Or, if you prefer, you can watch as the chefs lead you through each entree. The result isn’t just a great meal; it’s an experience that feels more local and authentic, and the rightfully proud staff deliver it expertly. (There’s also Mexican cooking demo if your tastes run a little more traditional.)

Waldorf Astoria Cancun: Deluxe Oceanfront Suite (living room)
The living room from a Deluxe Oceanfront Suite.

Private butler for every room?
No, but you won’t lack for personal attention here. From the moment you step onto the property, the attentive staff goes out of its way to make you feel at home. You’ll start by getting a short tour of the property from the concierge, who will happily summarize the hotel’s various activities, from kayaking in the ocean to cooking and cocktail-making classes. They will also go above and beyond. We casually mentioned our hope to visit Mexico City one day, and our concierge, Alejandra, put together two customized lists of restaurants and cultural sites to visit Mexico City and handed them to us the day we checked out.

Is the sheet thread count higher than 300?
300? Pfffft. The sheets by Frette, and their thread count is 400, thank you very much.

Is there a heated floor in the bathroom? What about a bidet?
No, but heated floors in Cancun would make about as much sense as an ice-bath in the dead of a Norwegian winter. It’s 80 degrees year-round here. The only thing you’ll want from your room is for the robust A/C to be set at your favorite temperature. As for keeping clean, the spacious glass-enclosed shower has a waterfall shower head and overlooks the balcony and plunge pool.

Waldorf Astoria Cancun: bathroom
Every bathroom on the property comes with two sinks and two vanities.

Are the toiletries full sized?
Yes, they’re all from Vervan and they’re all full-size.

Is there a private pool for the room’s exclusive use?
Yes, we ended up using our plunge pool every night. Nestled on the balcony next to the shower, it offers the same stunning views of the Atlantic. Built in organic stone, it fills itself with water in about 15 minutes (you can customize the water temp to your liking), and comes with Jacuzzi-style jets if you want to add some bubbles to your experience. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a flute of Champagne, which you’ll find stocked in your mini bar.

Waldorf Astoria Cancun. Riviera Cancun. Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo by Victor Elias Photography.
The balcony and plunge pool are integrated seamlessly.

For those who prefer a private place to swim, the property has you covered there, too. The 675-square foot Swim Up Pool 1 King Guestroom offers the same handsome organic stone and wood touches as the all units on the property (including the plunge pool), but it also has a terrace with a swimming pool just for you. Even better, these rooms enjoy close proximity to the property’s pools and beach, so you’re always near the water.

Are the restaurants worth their salt?

One benefit of large luxury resorts of this ilk is that you never have to leave the property. But that spell only works at the five-star level if the restaurants offer quality cuisine—and variety. Thankfully, the Waldorf’s restaurants deliver on both counts. Malpeque, the property’s definitive headliner, is an open-flame grill with grand, wood-accented decor that will give you reason to dress up for the night (though you’ll get no side eye if you prefer flip flops and shorts). The dinner menu leans heavily into seafood-focused entrees—think grilled octopus, colossal shrimp, linguine with clams, and live spiny lobster. Steak lovers will also find a delicious Australian-New York wagyu strip. For those who can’t quite choose between surf or turf, I recommend the tasting tray option, which offers a mini tour of the menu’s most impressive creations. Just make sure you come with your appetite.

Waldorf Astoria Cancun. Riviera Cancun. Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo by Victor Elias Photography.
The terrace at Malpeque offers pool and ocean views.

The hotel’s other restaurants offer more casual dining options. Ja’o is a summer-y bistro based on a Mexican outdoor cantina. The menu runs the gamut from catch-of-the-day fish tacos to delicious lemon-inflected tagliatelle that’s made right on the premises. Chaya, meanwhile, leans into produce to offer a menu that blends the familiar fare with Mayan touches. This is the property’s best breakfast spot, and it doesn’t disappoint: The excellent Mezcal French Toast is made with organic agave syrup, creme anglaise, and berries. For something more savory and local, the Chilaquiles—two fried eggs, creamy chipotle salsa, avocado, white onion, sour cream, and cheese—is stellar.

Is there caviar on the room service menu? If so, what kind?
No, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some black gold delivered to your room. Malpeque’s menu features a starter of Oscietra caviar with a traditional garnish. If you ask nicely, they may be willing to bring it to you.

Do you want to spend Friday night in the lobby bar?
Not really, but that’s not why you come to this Waldorf Astoria. This place is about relaxation first and foremost. The most exciting bar, after all, is outside, near the hotel’s pools. And even there, the staff deliver your drinks—or food—right to your lounge chair or cabana.

Would you buy the hotel if you could?
Owning a property from one of the most esteemed luxury hotel brands in the world in a gorgeous coastline locale in Mexico? I think we all know the answer to that.

The Waldorf Astoria Cancun’s spa has its own pool with with hydrotherapy massage nooks throughout.
The Waldorf Astoria Cancun’s spa has its own pool with with hydrotherapy massage nooks throughout.

The Verdict
It would be easy for a hotel with the pedigree of the Waldorf Astoria to rest on its name and the stunning coastline location. But this property isn’t content to offer up luxury convention. Rather, it leans proudly into the Mayan history and culture to create an experience that feels more local and unique and still provides the personalized service and comfort for which the brand has come to be known. No small feat.

Oceanfront King Bed Guestrooms from $525 per night. Swim Up Pool 1 King Guestroom from $964 a night. Rates for Oceanfront Two Bedroom Presidential Suite on request.

Score: 8.5

What Our Score Means:

1-3: Fire your travel agent if they suggest you stay here.
Solid if you’re in a pinch—but only if you’re in a pinch.
Very good to great. We’d stay here again and recommend it without qualms.
Forget booking a week. When can we move in permanently?

Click here to see more photos of the Waldorf Astoria Cancun.

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