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Where to Stay in Tulum, Mexico - Downtown VS Hotel Zone
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Planning a trip to Tulum in the Riviera Maya soon? You’re in for a treat! But you’ll also find that, while planning your trip, you’ll encounter a pretty important decision: where to stay in Tulum! No, Tulum is not like most cities around the world. You’ll have a pretty important decision to make before your trip, and this complete guide to Tulum accommodation will explain everything you need to know to help make your decision smoother!

Most people find this difficult, but, trust me, figuring out where to stay in Tulum doesn’t need to be THAT hard. You just need to decide whether you want to be based in Downtown Tulum or on Tulum Beach. 

On my recent trip to Tulum, I stayed for two full weeks, basing myself in different hotels around the city. And today I want to share everything I learned about Tulum hotels and areas while I was there.

Let’s get started!

Best area to stay in Tulum - detailed breakdown

Tequila and mezcal in Tulum Mexico
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When we travel, we usually decide where to stay based on a pretty hotel or a popular tourist area in the city – usually the city centre. But Tulum, even though not a large city, is pretty different from your usual destination aka it has a unique layout. I will explain everything you need to know about how Tulum is organised in areas and how to choose the best one for you (including a very explanatory map!) down below.

First of all, know that Tulum isn’t that big and you can easily get from point A to point B in 15-20 minutes, so your decision shouldn’t be that dramatic. It’s mostly about convenience and there are two main aspects to keep in mind: your budget and your interests during this trip.

In short, Tulum is made of two main areas: the small town called Tulum Town, Tulum Pueblo or Downtown Tulum and the beach road called Tulum Beach or Zona Hotelera. The distance between the two is more or less 5 km.

Ask yourself the following questions: Do I want to stay on the beach all day every day or do I also want to visit the local attractions such as the Mayan ruins and the cenotes? Do I want to experience Tulum’s local vibe and check out the small, traditional eateries and shops? Am I okay with getting around by bike or taxi almost every day, or do I prefer staying in the same place all the time and just minding my own business by my private pool? Do I want to splurge and stay in a luxury resort, or do I have a limited budget?

Once you’ve got your answers down, read the following explanations to find the best place to stay in Tulum for you! I will be talking about the 4 best areas to stay in Tulum in this article, as follows:

where to stay in tulum map
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  • Hotel Zone / Zona Hotelera – Although pricier, this area is the go-to place for travellers that want to stay in a world-class resort and enjoy a private beach area and/or pool. This beach road is where you’ll find the best luxury hotels, restaurants and outdoor nightclubs.
  • Tulum Centre / Tulum Pueblo – My recommendation for travellers on a budget or people interested in the authentic, local vibe of the city. This is where you’ll find budget accommodation and more affordable boutique shops and Mexican eateries.
  • Aldea Zama – A new and upcoming luxury area (still under construction), located a stones throw away from Tulum Pueblo (halfway between the centre and the beach). It has a really laid-back vibe and you’ll find lots of boutique hotels to choose from here.
  • La Veleta – another new and upcoming area in Tulum, only 1 km away southwest of the city centre. This is the best place to book a long-term stay in Tulum (if you’re a digital nomad looking to stay for longer, for example) for reasonable prices.
where to stay in tulum close to the beach
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If you’re looking for an even more straight-forward list of recommendations, check this out:

  • Where to stay in Tulum for luxury: Middle Beach Zone
  • Where to stay in Tulum on a budget: Pueblo
  • Where to stay in Tulum with a family: Aldea Zama or South Beach Zone
  • Where to stay in Tulum for couples: North or South Beach Zone
  • Where to stay in Tulum for a honeymoon: North or South Beach Zone
  • Where to stay in Tulum for nightlife: Pueblo or Middle Beach Zone
  • Where to stay in Tulum for remote working: La Veleta
  • Where to stay in Tulum for the local attractions: Pueblo
  • Where celebrities stay in Tulum: Middle Beach Zone

This was just a short breakdown; now let me explain the PROs and CONs of staying in each of these areas, together with my hand-picked hotel recommendations, so I can make everything much easier for you!

By the way, if you want to know how easy it is to get around in Tulum, plus other useful information for your trip, click here to jump to my dedicated FAQ section.

NOTE: In recent years, Tulum has got pricier and pricier. It’s insane! Your budget should be an important point of discussion, as it will directly reflect your accommodation options as well. I personally found Tulum unrealistically expensive at times, especially if you decide to stay on the beach road. I’ve explained more about the costs of a Tulum vacation and my impressions on the subject in the beginning of this guide: 7 Unmissable Things to Do in Tulum, Mexico – Complete Guide & Tips

TIP: I wanted to leave this tip for the Questions and Tips section down below, but might as well say it right from the start: if you have a small budget but still want to experience everything Tulum has to offer, an excellent idea would be to divide your vacation in two: spend some of your nights in a hotel in Tulum Pueblo but also book one or two nights in a mid-range beach resort or cabana. This way you’ll get the best of both worlds without breaking the bank!

Best hotels in Tulum, Mexico - speedy recommendations

Ahau Hotel in Tulum Mexico
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Azulik Hotel in Tulum Mexico
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You know me, I love a good list! Here’s another useful one for you in case you want to quickly click-and-book your Tulum accommodation right now:

Where to stay in Tulum Hotel Zone

Tulum Beach accommodation
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Tulum Beach or Tulum Hotel Zone is the main touristy area in the city where most travellers want to stay – or at least those that want to experience the most Instagrammable sites, cute and quirky cafes, boutique shops, exclusive clubs and restaurants and also have access to the insanely stunning beach. Important note right at the start: all this comes with a very high Tulum price tag though, so keep this in mind at all times!

The Hotel Zone is basically a long 10-km strip of beach, roughly bound at the north by the Tulum Ruins and at the south by Arco Maya National Park.

PROs:

  • Superb beach hotels and 5-star all inclusive resorts that have their own private beach access
  • Fancy, innovative restaurants and fine dining too
  • Jungle and open-air nightclubs
  • You’ll hear the sound of the waves as you fall asleep at night
  • You’ll avoid the hectic traffic in the evening, when people staying in the Pueblo are leaving from the beach zone

CONs:

  • The most expensive area in Tulum – some of those gorgeous beachfront hotels can be anything from $500 to over $1000 per night, but you’ll be good with $200 too if you book a more budget hotel way in advance
  • Super popular, which means some hotels get fully booked months in advance
  • If you want a completely laid-back vacation, it can be a bit hard to find quiet places, as this area has become a party hub with the passing of the years
  • Not all hotels in this area have air conditioning, so it’s best to check before booking
sunrise at tulum beach
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The entire beach road is divided into three different zones as well: North Beach, Middle Beach and South Beach. Pretty straight-forward, right? Now, each one of these little zones comes with its own advantages, although all three are excellent candidates for a perfect vacation:

  • North Beach Zone – luxury + moderate hotels, quietest area, close to Tulum Mayan ruins and the cenotes (Dos Ojos and Casa Cenote), great for couples, way less options for restaurants, clubs and shops than the other two areas. Best beaches here are Playa Paraiso and Playa Maya
  • Middle Beach Zone – luxury hotels, literally the centre of the action, lots of high-end restaurants and beach clubs, yoga retreats, best nightlife options but with the highest price tag of all 3
  • South Beach Zone – luxury + moderate + budget hotels, quiet and bohemian vibe, close to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, great for families with kids

It takes 20 to 30 minutes to get from Tulum Town to the Hotel Zone with a bike (the most popular means of transportation there, now that the taxis have insane fees), depending on your exact destination, of course. Wondering if you can walk instead? Sure, but it will take you 1-2 hours, so… no.

TIP: Unfortunately, there are no dedicated bike lanes or street lights on the long road that goes alongside the beach, so if you’re staying in a beachfront hotel and want to cycle to the Pueblo (or the other way around), I’d recommend you do it before dark.

Best hotels in Tulum Hotel Zone

Hotel Selina in Tulum
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WHERE I STAYED: Coco UnlimitedStunning! Although this accommodation is still expensive compared to most destinations, it’s an absolute bargain for Tulum, considering it’s one of the most popular luxury resorts around! It has gorgeous white washed walls, a beach front location, an on-site restaurant with cute swings in the sand. It’s a vibe!

BIG SPLURGE:

  • Jashita Hotel – No words needed, honestly! This 5-star hotel has everything you might wish for: 3 outdoor pools, private suites with private plunge pools, an excellent onsite restaurant and bar and lots and lots of activities to do on the beach. Damn, you can even book a penthouse at this hotel!
  • Another excellent option is The Beach Tulum, which is actually one of the most popular 5-star beach resorts in Tulum Beach. They have beach front rooms with a private plunge pool, its own beach club (Ziggy’s Beach Club), an on-site spa and gym and more.

LITTLE SPLURGE:

  • Villa Pescadores Tulum – Located on the beachfront in the beach hotel zone on its own private beach, this is a (kinda) more affordable luxury hotel. Each room here has its own private balcony where you can stand and admire the Caribbean Sea and the white sand beaches. It’s like a dream! But make sure to book in advance, this place is a pretty popular place to stay in Tulum.
  • Alternatively, you can also look into Papaya Playa Project – it’s a gorgeous boutique hotel on Tulum Beach. It’s also close to Tulum National Park (200m away!), the Mayan ruins and ruins beach and the rooms are simply lovely, as well as the service.

MID-RANGE:

  • Coco Tulum Zen Zone Hotel – This amazing hotel is located in the South Beach zones, right near South Tulum Beach, which means you’ll only be a short walking distance away from all the beach clubs and fun happening in the sand. It also has an onsite restaurant where you can experience a good Mexican dining experience

BUDGET:

  • Tunich Jungle Cabanas – This budget accommodation is located in the jungle part of the beach and it has a chill, secluded vibe. Although it doesn’t have an outdoor swimming pool, it’s only 1 minute away from the beach and the prices are unbeatable for a beachfront hotel!

GLAMPING:

  • Nativus Glamping – If the prices for these Tulum hotels above frighten you, why not try glamping instead? Nativus is an amazing eco-friendly glamping close to the beach. They also have a sun terrace plus lots of activities to do around!

HOSTEL:

  • Selina Tulum – There are only a handful of hostels in the beach area, as you can guess, but this one is really good! They’re part of an international chain and they have ideal rates for budget travelers. Plus, the hostel is only 100m away from South Beach Tulum!

Where to stay in Tulum Pueblo

Tulum Centro Streets
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Compared to Tulum Beach, Tulum Centre has a lower price tag when it comes to everything from hotels to restaurants and even souvenir shops. Much lower! Which is why I’m recommending this area (me and everyone out there) as the place to stay if you’re on a tight budget, if you’re a backpacker or if you want a bit more of a local buzz. Downtown Tulum also has more dive bars, street food and cheap eateries up and down the high street.

PROs:

  • Waaay cheaper prices for everything – even luxury hotels are much cheaper here and you can easily find budget accommodation and hostels too
  • Local vibe
  • Authentic Mexican food
  • Lots of nightlife opportunities
  • Super easy to walk around and explore the streets
  • Surrounded by nature, which means lots of exploring opportunities with your bike or by foot
  • Good base if you want to do day trips from Tulum

CONs:

  • You won’t be directly on the beach or in its proximity; Zona Hotelera is 20 to 30 minutes away by bike
  • If you’re not renting a bike for the duration of your stay, getting to the beach may imply lots of traffic
  • A bit less safe than Zona Hotelera

Best places to stay in Tulum Town

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WHERE I STAYED – I stayed at Azura Boutique Hotel, which offers SUCH good value for your own little mini apartment! Everything is super clean, nice, the staff is lovely and it also has a dipping outdoor pool and hangout area on the roof. Plus the location is absolutely great, it’s really easy to walk around all of Tulum centre from here. 

BIG SPLURGE – Coco Hacienda Tulum – If you want a gorgeous boutique hotel for your stay in Tulum Town, this is the best choice! I really believe this might be the best hotel in Tulum Town (or at least in the top 3 for sure). They have various room types such as bungalows, deluxe garden rooms, suites, suites with a hot tub and more. And everything looks absolutely Instagrammable and stunning!

LITTLE SPLURGE – Maka Hotel Boutique – This 5-star hotel located in the heart of  Tulum center has a pool, a restaurant, its own nightclub and restaurant. I’d go for the king suite with pool view if I were you, by the way – such good value!

MID-RANGE – Mimosa Tulum – This 3-star hotel in the centre of  Tulum Town is absolutely fabulous! They have free private parking, air conditioned rooms and family rooms as well, which I think is such a great advantage!

BUDGET – Joy Tulum – This is probably the best hotel in Tulum if you want something that’s both cheap and super quality. 3-star service, free private parking, free bikes and a location that’s walking distance to lots of restaurants and shops. And only 4 km away from the public beach!

HOSTEL – If you’re looking for the cheapest option for budget travelers that want to stay in Tulum, Hostel Oryx is one of the best choices. It has an excellent location (approx. 3.5 km away from Beach Town), as well as a shared kitchen, dry cleaning services, a pool and lots more. Really, such amazing service for a hostel!

Where to stay in Tulum Aldea Zama

aldea zama tulum
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About Aldea Zama Tulum: Nestled perfectly between the Hotel Zone and Tulum Centre, Aldea Zama is one of Tulum’s newest and chicest neighbourhoods. A few years ago, it was just a construction site – but now you’ll find many high-end and boutique hotels here, as well as short stay apartments to rent (Airbnb ftw!). Plus enough cute cafes and eateries to choose from! Definitely recommended if you’re travelling with your family and kids as well.

The location is pretty awesome too – it’s close to both the town and the beach while also being quiet and laid-back.

PROs:

  • You won’t find any old, sketchy or outdated accommodations here, as it’s a new area. Instead you can expect modern luxury hotels, apartments and Airbnbs
  • It’s a bit closer to Tulum’s Beach Zone compared to staying in the centre, which means less biking and/or cheaper taxi rides
  • Safer than the Pueblo

CONs:

  • Except for staying in your hotel, there aren’t a lot of activities to do here (but this will change in the future), which means you’ll most probably want to leave the premises for the day if you want some real action
  • Some parts of this area are still under construction
  • Some hotels can be a tad overpriced, in which case it might be worth it just to stay in the Zona Hotelera instead

Best hotels in Aldea Zama

Orchid House Tulum\
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BIG SPLURGE – Kimpton – Aluna Tulum – Fabulous 5-star hotel that seems taken out of an interior design magazine. They offer a gorgeous pool, beach club access in sister properties, gardens, an on-site spa, bikes for rent and (quite literally) everything in-between.

LITTLE SPLURGE – Orchid House TulumThis is one of the best boutique hotels if you’re looking for a ‘little’ splurge’ – in fact, it’s going to be a big splurge when it comes to the service, not the price. Seriously now, this hotel is so lush and luxurious, you’ll never want to leave the premises! But if you do, you’ll only be 2 km away from the public beach in Tulum!

MID-RANGEKeej by NIIK Tulum – Located only 2.5 km away from the beach (Tulum Playa Paraiso or Las Palmas) this 4-star hotel comes at some pretty unbeatable rates. They also have free WiFi, an on-site restaurant, tour desk and family rooms as well!

BUDGET – Mediterraneo Hotel Tulum – Great 3-star hotel that looks exactly like a hacienda! Even though this property has low rates, they also have a swimming pool, a hot tub, a garden and more. It’s also around 3km from Beach Town, Paradise Beach and the famous Hotel Zone.

HOSTEL – Mayan Monkey Hotel & Hostel Tulum – An affordable hostel in one of the newest parts of Tulum? Yes, it is possible! This is a hotel-hostel combo located 2 km from Paradise Beach with air conditioning in each room. Plus, everything looks… simply incredible!

APARTMENT – Blue Luxury Kukulkan Apartments – In case you want a bit more privacy and comfort, then you can book an apartment – there are so many luxurious ones in this part of Tulum! I’m recommending this one because you can choose from a ‘regular’ apartment and a penthouse and both have a pool outside!

Where to stay in Tulum La Veleta

Central Park Resort & Spa Tulum
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Here’s an area of Tulum that you won’t find in most travel guides on the internet! This new up-and-coming area in Tulum is located only 1 kilometre southwest from the city centre. Still, it’s not really popular with short-stay tourists. Instead, it’s a real hit among remote workers who are looking to settle down in Tulum for a while and among those looking for vacation rentals. Besides being well-priced, most accommodations here have good internet, which is something you won’t find a lot in Tulum in general, regardless if you’re in the centre or on the beach.

La Veleta has a nice vibe and safe feel, but there isn’t so much going on here just yet. However, it’s only a short bike / scooter drive away from all the action in Tulum Centre or on the beach road!

PROs:

  • Everything is super new and shiny
  • Reasonably priced vacation rentals and long-term accommodations – some can be even cheaper than Tulum Town
  • Close to both the city centre and the beach

CONs:

  • There isn’t much to do here yet, so you will most probably want to bike, scooter or get a cab to other parts of Tulum to get some action

Best hotels in Tulum La Veleta

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BIG SPLURGE – Central Park Resort & Spa TulumThis is an incredible 5-star luxury hotel in La Veleta that offers gorgeous, spacious rooms, an on-site restaurant and gym, plus different activities. It’s also 3.4 km away from Tulum’s private beach

LITTLE SPLURGE – Hotel Holistika Tulum – This beautiful 4-star hotel is simply stunning, with an outdoor swimming pool and modern, stylish rooms. Even the restaurant looks super cool, as well as the common area!

MID-RANGE – Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum – Modern and extremely stylish, this 4-star hotel has some pretty affordable rates and incredible service! By the way, they also offer bike hire on-site, so you can ride on Tulum beach road and reach the white sand beach in no time.

BUDGET – Luna Llena Tulum – If you’re looking for a reasonably priced accommodation that also has an outdoor pool, free WiFi and a tour desk as well, this one’s for you! Plus, the hotel is set in a tropical garden and it’s only 4 km away from the white sandy beaches.

APARTMENT – Hotel Panacea Tulum – well, technically this is an aparthotel, but it’s pretty stunning and you’ll feel exactly like in your own apartment in Tulum – which means you’ll have comfort and privacy, plus some pretty amazing amenities as well such as an on-site gym, an outdoor swimming pool, a terrace and more.

VILLA – Alicat Villas – In case you’re travelling in a group and you want to ditch the all-inclusive resorts and find your own personal piece of paradise instead, I highly recommend a villa. Alicat Villas offers a pool as well, which I think is extremely cool!

FAQs about staying in Tulum + My tips!

How expensive is Tulum
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Now that you know everything about the best hotels in Tulum and the city’s unique layout, let me offer you some of my best tips and answer some popular questions that might help you plan your itinerary better:

How expensive is Tulum?

I’ve visited Tulum two times before – and a third time in March 2022. Since those first two trips, the prices in Tulum have become EXTORTIONATE. Like… I literally thought some people had gone insane with some of the prices they were attempting to charge. $40 for a 3-minute taxi ride. $3000 for a beachfront hotel – that’s insane!

Still, if you book your accommodation ahead of time and do your research properly (this guide you’re reading right now should offer plenty of good tips!), you should be good with a moderate budget.

If you’re on a tight budget but still want to visit Tulum, I’ve done my research and come up with this complete post on Free things to do in Tulum, Mexico that includes heaps of helpful tips on how to avoid the insane prices.

Is Tulum Town safe?

Tulum is a safe destination in general, although Zona Hotelera and Aldea Zama are safer than Downtown Tulum. Although it’s not happening regularly, there are occasional incidents with tourists in the city centre. But if you’re mindful of your behaviour and belongings, you’ll be just fine! I’m also recommending you to get good travel insurance for Mexico – SafetyWing is an excellent choice.

RELATED READ: Best Cenotes to Visit in Tulum

renting a bike in tulum
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How to get around in Tulum

If you’re not staying in the Hotel Zone, the most popular option is to rent a bike and get around the city – it’s what everyone is doing and counts as a fun activity too! You can get from Zona Hotelera to Tulum Town in 15 to 30 minutes depending on your destination. Plus, most hotels and resorts in Tulum offer free bikes for rent. Otherwise, the rates are around 200 MXN per day ($10) and you can rent them from many places, like iBike Tulum or Ola Bike Tulum.

Taxies are a pretty popular option as well, but the rates have gotten insane recently, which is why I’m not really recommending them if you have a choice.

When is the best time to visit Tulum

November to January is the best time to visit Tulum because it’s right before peak season (when the prices go way higher) and right after hurricane season, which is a no-go. I have explained more on the subject in this article: 7 Unmissable Things to Do in Tulum, Mexico – Complete Guide & Tips

How long to stay in Tulum

I spent 2 entire weeks in Tulum and I never felt bored, mostly because I loved spending my days on the beach, exploring the natural wonders and finding cute eateries for authentic Mexican food. If you’re planning a more extensive trip around Mexico, then I’d recommend you reserve at least 3 days for Tulum, so you can get to explore everything you might have on your list. Otherwise, one week would be just perfect.

8 Unmissable Things to Do in Tulum, Mexico - Complete Guide & Tips
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RELATED READ: 23 Best Tulum Instagram Spots: A Photo Guide

Can I surf in Tulum?

Tulum isn’t a great destination for traditional surf; instead, there are some pretty great spots on the beach if you want to try some windsurfing or kitesurfing.

Which one to choose: Tulum or Playa del Carmen?

Although tourists all over the world seem to prefer Tulum for the perfect beach vacation, I’m also strongly recommending Playa del Carmen too, mostly because prices in Tulum have gotten really crazy recently. It’s true, the beaches in Tulum are better and more beautiful, but if budget is one of your concerns, then Playa del Carmen is definitely more affordable. It’s also bigger and more touristic, which means more hotel, restaurant and shopping options.

Which one to choose: Tulum or Cancun?

Cancun has its own airport (Cancun International Airport), so if you’re short on time and looking for convenience regarding transportation, I’d say to go for it. On the other side, Tulum offers some pretty awesome Mayan ruins to explore and better beaches too.

RELATED READ: Free Things to Do in Tulum, Mexico

This was my complete guide that offers all my answers to (probably) the most important question about this destination: where to stay in Tulum? Is it better to stay on Tulum Beach or in Tulum Town? What other areas can I choose from? 

After visiting Tulum recently, I did my best to write this post and address the most popular concerns among travellers – and I really hope you found this post to be useful! I’ve compared Tulum Town to the Hotel Zone, offered PROs and CONs for each one of them (and two other less popular areas in the city) and I’ve also shared with you my hand-picked list of recommended hotels by budget. So regardless if you’re a backpacker or a tourist looking for a big splurge with everything that Tulum has to offer, I’m pretty sure you’ve already found the perfect hotel for you in this post!

In case you need more help with planning your vacation in Tulum, I recommend clicking here to find all my posts about this unique destination. And here you can find all my articles and stories about Mexico in general.

xoxo,

Melissa

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    Where to Stay in Tulum, Mexico - Downtown VS Hotel Zone
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    I’m a travel enthusiast, content creator and sun seeker extraordinaire! I love a good matcha latte, am obsessed with hats and like to give human names to the stray animals that I befriend on my travels ( I’m talking about you, Lesley!) In 2018 I took the leap and switched my London lifestyle for continuous adventures abroad.

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