Curio Local Guide

Playa del Carmen

Authored by Vicky Navarro
Vicky Navarro
Architect and Photographer

We sent Mexico based Vicky Navarro to The Fives Downtown Hotel & Residences, Curio Collection by Hilton to create a Playa del Carmen, Mexico Local Guide. From the colors and culture of 5th avenue to the picture-perfect white sand beaches of the Caribbean, The Fives Downtown Hotel offers the perfect mix of city and sea and the ultimate place to plant yourself when exploring Riviera Maya. Vicky created an incredible travel guide full of local secrets and destination tips just for you.

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Tourists come to this region for a lot of reasons, but most come for its laid-back Caribbean beach scene, beautiful coral reefs, biologically diverse interior jungle, and rich Mayan history.

My Perfect Day

What would you suggest to a friend if they had 24 hours in a place like this?

My friend should start by waking up early in order to see the sunrise from the hotel’s rooftop. The colors are beautiful, and they change every second. Then, I recommend breakfast at Chez Celine, a restaurant located at 5th avenue and 34 St N. This restaurant has a wonderful bakery with everything from sandwiches to freshly baked pastries. After breakfast, walk about 15 minutes and see what is happening along the 5th where the best souvenirs from small, locally owned businesses are sold. From there head to the beach. There are a lot of good beach choices, but there is a very nice spot just out front of the hotel. When it is time for lunch, head to El Zorro Plateado, for really excellent, authentic Mexican cuisine. Try the grilled octopus or the ceviches, but if you are taco lover then definitely try one of each. And choose from the wide selection of good beers.

In the afternoon, head back to the hotel’s amazing rooftop bar where you can enjoy a cocktail and the infinity pool.  After a heavy meal, my favorite cocktail is the Carajillo — a shot of espresso, a shot of Licor 43 (a sweet vanilla-citrus flavored liquor), and a lot of ice. It´s fresh, and a perfect digestive. And as long as you are there, stay and enjoy the sunset.

In the evening, walk to the main plaza at Los Fundadores Park, where traditional Mayan dancers, Voladores de Papantla, perform every hour. In this unique and spectacular program, four men ascend a 100-foot pole, and then, with their feet attached to ropes, “fly” around the pool, slowly descending to the ground while a ceremonial ritual is performed for the audience.

From Los Fundadores Park, walk to La Cueva del Chango, for a lovely Mexican dinner in a natural setting. Try the guacamole and chips and the catch of the day. The fish is a big dish so it can be shared. The passion fruit margarita is also a must. Finish out the night by returning to the beach to dance until your body hurts at Diablito Cha Cha Cha, a funky “palapa” with a live DJ and a 50’s tropical vibe that will remind you why Mexico is always a good idea!

Where to stay

The Fives Downtown Hotel & Residences, Curio Collection by Hilton

The hotel design is outstanding. As an architect, I pay close attention to the details, and it’s obvious that this hotel’s designers and Team Members do as well. I especially liked how the hotel uses colors and light to create different atmospheres in the different public spaces within in the building. Again, I can’t say enough about the Team Members. They were warm and helpful, giving me a tour to show me what was happening in every corner of the hotel.

I also loved the rooftop infinity pool and spent the day there with a nice mezcal margarita while reading a book. Even though I live in a sleepy beach town just south of Playa del Carmen, my work keeps me moving constantly, so this was the perfect local getaway to sit back, relax, and work on my tan.


One of the things that are most important to me when I travel is whether or not a hotel uses high-quality local products and how it approaches its impact on the environment. I was very well satisfied with The Fives Downtown Hotel in this regard. I really enjoyed the local coffee, Marley Coffee, provided in the room, artwork and the room was quiet so I was able to get a great night sleep.

I felt so at home at The Fives Downtown Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton. Every Team Member, from the bellhop to the bartender knew me on a first name basis. The lobby is awe-inspiring and uses the vibrant colors of Mexico in its overall design to create a warm and welcoming environment. These colors are then carried throughout the hotel in design details like the cushions, carpet and room accessories.