Selina Isla Mujeres: An Uninfluenced Insider Review

Want to brag to your friends about staying at the first hostel ever built in Latin America? Formerly called PocNa, the massive boutique Selina hostel chain purchased this hostel, gave it a facelift, and as of late 2020 began offering a resort-like experience for budget travelers. There’s no doubt about it—the hostel is stunning. Just as much, this Isla Mujeres review will showcase areas where the hostel has improving to do.

I spent two weeks staying at Selina Isla Mujeres and will fill you in on the good, bad, and downright smelly. Ready to find out if staying at Selina Isla Mujeres is the right fit for you?

Let’s begin!

Accessibility Note: Some shared facilities at Selina Isla Mujeres are wheelchair accessible, such as the gazebo, restroom, and kitchen. However, the hostel isn’t set up well for accessibility. We’ve put together a guide on Wheelchair Accessibility in Isla Mujeres.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

My Selina Background

I’m a bit of a Selina die-hard, mainly because Selinas have (mostly) reliable WiFi and many offer cowork spaces. That’s not to say Selina is perfect—on the contrary, I’ll be sharing plenty of details here that may have you balk at staying at their facility in Isla Mujeres.

Overall though, I’ve had positive experiences with Selina; it’s hard to get things 100% perfect, especially when you throw in the possibility of inconsiderate hostel mates in the mix.

You’ll be getting my uninfluenced opinion with this Selina Isla Mujeres review. Selina didn’t offer me money or perks for putting together this article. In fact, they didn’t even know I wrote it!

Selina Fun Fact

Founded in Panama, Selina has received millions in monetary support for its initiative to launch affordable boutique hostels across the world. In fact, while the world suffered from the pandemic in 2020, Selina raised $60 million in funding to support their expansion.

Catering to digital nomads with their cowork space has no doubt set Selina apart from many hostels, as the pandemic has turned thousands of people into location-independent remote workers.

What Does Google Think?

Oh, man!

Google rates Selina as a 1-star facility.

I couldn’t disagree more with this rating, and can’t help but think that it hasn’t been updated since the hostel changed ownership from PocNa. Although it was a flourishing hostel back in the day, PocNa had deteriorated in more recent years.

However, Selina swooped in and gave the hostel a much-needed facelift. The facilities feel (and in most cases, are) brand new. Selina also offers a plethora of amenities like a beautiful pool, beachside restaurant, and a tour desk.

In my opinion, Selina Isla Mujeres sits in the upper 2-star category if you’re staying as a dorm room guest. If you have a private room, then it’ll feel more like a 3-star property.

Cowork center at night.
Selina at night (the cowork facility is on the left).

Selina Isla Mujeres Location

It doesn’t get any better than Selina’s location on Isla Mujeres. The hostel is an 8-minute walk from the ferry port and is in the heart of the touristy north part of the island. You’ll be steps away from restaurants, bars, and tourist shops.

Oh, and did I mention the beach?

Selina sits right on a quiet beach. In fact, it’s common to have the whole place to yourself! The only downside is that swimming is prohibited because the waves are strong and rocks are abundant.

Selina Isla Mujeres beach.
The beach at Selina.

When you’re ready for a swim, a few minute walk north of the hostel will lead you to Playa Norte, which is Isla Mujeres’ most famous beach. There, you can spend the day basking in calm, crystal clear water. Playa Norte also has fun restaurants and bars right on the beach.

Crystal clear water at Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres.
Playa Norte is a swimming-friendly beach less than a 5-minute walk from Selina.

You might be wondering: What about the south part of the island? You can rent a bike either through Selina (which is super expensive, so I recommend looking elsewhere) and be at the southernmost part of the island in 40 minutes. There’s always the option to rent a golf cart, too!

A walking path along the shoreline of Punta Sur. Those high rises in the background are in Cancun.

Travel Tip: Visit Punta Sur for sunrise. It’s the first place that the sun touches Mexico each morning!

Hostel Setup

You may feel like you took a wrong turn when you’re looking for Selina since the hostel is located at the end of a side street—a dead-end side street at that, thanks to the ocean.

Selina Isla Mujeres has an outdoor set up. The lobby is quite narrow, which makes it a beast to pass through around check-in time (3:00 pm). Once you get through there, you’ll be greeted by a large thatched gazebo with plenty of benches and tables. There are a few outlets around, so this can be an option to work at if the cowork is full (more on that soon).

Walk past the gazebo and you’ll be greeted by your first ocean views. The cowork will be on your right, the tour center on your left, and the pool, outdoor restaurant, outdoor activities center, and beach straight in front of you. Since words can’t do this scenery justice, here’s a photo:

Outdoor view of Selina with Palm trees.

Hang a right here and you’ll enter the kitchen. The kitchen is enclosed, relatively speaking, but it’s still open enough for plenty of air to enter, keeping out pesky kitchen smells.

Beyond this point you’ll encounter dorm and private rooms spread among three floors.

Rooms at Selina Isla Mujeres

Because of how incredible Selina’s shared facilities are, you likely won’t be spending much time in your room. However, below is an overview of the types of rooms you can book in Isla Mujeres.

Dorm Rooms

Selina Isla Mujeres offers the following types of dorm rooms:

  • 4 beds
  • 6 beds
  • 8 beds
  • 12 beds

All dorm rooms come with sheets, a wonderfully thick comforter to keep you warm when the air conditioning kicks on in the evening, and a personal locker (you need to bring your own lock). Towels are available for rent. You’ll need to ask the front desk for details.

You won’t have to walk too far to use a communal bathroom, although depending on the location of your dorm you might have to walk in the rain.

The communal shower stalls are well designed with a table to set your belongings on and hangers for your clothes and towels.

However, the toilet stalls leave a lot to be desired. There’s barely enough room to walk in the stall, let alone to turn around to do your business. Sigh.

When it comes to the dorm rooms themselves, I have mixed emotions about them. Let’s start with the wonderful—the beds. The mattresses are so comfortable for hostel standards. They give you two pillows and a thick comforter as if you were at a real hotel. You might be thinking, a comforter in the Caribbean? Trust me; you’ll need it if you have air conditioning-loving roomies.

Another great touch to the dorm rooms in Isla Mujeres are the curtains. They offer both privacy and serve pretty darn well as blackout curtains if you have roommates returning to your room in the middle of the night.

Four bedroom dorm.
4-bedroom dorm room.

Now that we’ve covered the good, I’ll break the bad news to you. Most of the dorm rooms at Selina Isla Mujeres are small. So small that it might make you wonder if the designers knew that travelers travel with luggage.

In the photo above, you’ll see drawers beneath each bed. Each traveler gets a drawer, which is a shallow, narrow space that will open easily for you, if you’re lucky.

It’s worth mentioning that I used a wide-angle lens on the photo above and was standing at the door. So, you can picture just how little wall space there is for everyone to store their suitcases and backpacks. In my room, they had one luggage rack for four people. One.

On top of that, the floors are concrete and hold in a lot of humidity. My room constantly felt damp, and despite leaving the window open, smelled musty.

Private Rooms

If my description of the dorm rooms has you shaking in your flip-flops, here’s a silver lining—those staying in private rooms raved about their digs.

There is no shortage of private room categories at Selina. Even better, when it comes to its Suites and Apartments, the decor and amenities are unmatched by many hotels.

So, if you’ve got the money to spare, consider staying in one of these options:

The Micro: An small room with a full-size bed and room for you and your luggage (this is especially noteworthy, given that Micro rooms at other Selinas often don’t offer much floor space). It’s the most economical option on this list and perfect for those wanting privacy without an extra-big price tag. You’ll need to share a nearby bathroom. It can hold up to two people. It comes with towels and free toiletries.

The Standard: A more spacious option than The Micro for up to two travelers sharing a full-size bed. You’ll have a private bathroom. It comes with towels and free toiletries.

Wooden staircases leading to upper rooms at Selina.

The Twins: A room with two twin-size beds. You’ll have an en-suite bathroom.

Standard Triple: Perfect for three traveling friends. You’ll have one bunk bed and one single twin-size bed. It’s equipped with an en-suite bathroom.

Family Room: This private four-person room comes with either one bunk bed and two twin-size beds or one bunk bed and one queen-size bed. You get to choose the style, subject to availability. You’ll have a private bathroom.

The TeePee: A modified camping type of experience. These wooden teepees with thatched palm roofs hold two people and have just enough floor space for your luggage. You’ll need to go outside to use a shared bathroom.

Tepees at Selina Isla Mujeres.
Teepees.

The Suite: A spacious and beautifully designed room with a private bathroom and Selina’s premium in-room amenities. It comes with towels and free toiletries. It can hold up to two people.

The Suite+: Same features as the Suite except it has more space and can accommodate up to four travelers.

The Loft: Perfect for the long-term or luxury traveler. The Loft can hold up to two guests and is equipped with Selina’s luxury amenities.

A Note on Selina Pricing

The entrance to Selina.
The entrance to Selina.

Selina operates on a flexible pricing schedule. The following factors determine the price of your room:

  • How far in advance you book. The farther ahead you book, the cheaper your room will cost.
  • The number of nights you stay. The longer you stay, the cheaper the price per night will be.
  • Refundable vs. non-refundable rate. The non-refundable rate is cheaper than the refundable rate.
  • Whether you book with or without breakfast.
  • Whether they’re running any promotions. Promotions happen often, so keep your eye out for them.
  • Whether you’re traveling during a holiday or special event.

At the end of the day, you’re more likely to get a good deal on your room (and encounter availability) if you aim to make your reservation as soon as you know your travel dates. It’s pretty amazing speaking with fellow travelers and learning just how much they paid for their last-minute stay!

Amenities

Activities center at Selina Isla Mujeres.
Activities center.

A Selina Isla Mujeres review wouldn’t be complete without covering the amenities it offers guests.

One of the biggest attractions of the Selina brand is that they design their hostels so you don’t even have to leave if you don’t want to. Obviously, as travelers, we want to. But you get the point.

Here’s what you’ll get to enjoy by staying at Selina Isla Mujeres:

  • Swimming pool
  • Bar
  • Free WiFi
  • Free daily social activities
  • Free drinking water
  • Cowork (for an extra fee)
  • Activities center overlooking the ocean
  • Large kitchen
  • Tour desk
  • Yoga & other exercise classes (free or for a fee, depending on the package you book)
  • Lots of outdoor common areas

You can also bring your pet, provided you stay in a private room.

Restaurant, pool, and ocean at Selina Isla Mujeres.
Restaurant to the right, pool to the left, ocean and activities center straight ahead.

Selina Isla Mujeres Cowork

Mixed feelings doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about Selina Isla Mujeres’ cowork space. Let’s start with this—the ocean view cowork area is what led me to book six weeks at this hostel, and the cowork is also what made me change my reservation to two weeks.

I’m all about starting with the good, so here we go: the views are all they’re talked up to be. Below is a photo of a quiet early Sunday morning where it was just me and my laptop:

Ocean view at the cowork at Selina Isla Mujeres.
Ocean view seats at the cowork.

Paradise, right?

It really is. To be fair, there are only two seats inside that have the best ocean views, plus a conference room that you can rent (if you’re lucky enough to find availability). However, all four seats shown in the photo above will make you feel like you’re on the beach. You can also sit at tables outside (pictured on the far left—yep, the glass windows really are that big!).

Here’s the other side of the cowork. It’s still beautiful thanks to those big floor to ceiling windows, but you just won’t have ocean views:

Selina Isla Mujeres cowork.

The cowork space has decent quality free coffee, tea, and water. They also have a little kitchen where you can store your food in the fridge for the day and wash your dishes in the sink.

However, things start to go downhill from there.

There are signs inside the cowork (and other areas of Selina, for that matter) warning people that Mother Nature may decide she wants the WiFi to go out. To be fair, this only happened a couple of times during my stay, and it only lasted for a few minutes each time; the reception desk is usually able to restart the router and solve the issue.

However, WiFi troubles don’t stop only with the signal dropping out. I found the connection to be too weak for video FaceTime calls. Nevertheless, it held up well for audio calls. Other people seemed to have similar experiences, so if you rely on doing lots of video calls using WiFi for work, staying at Selina Isla Mujeres may not be the best fit for you.

While we’re on the subject of WiFi, the WiFi doesn’t reach well throughout the property if you want to work elsewhere. Most notably, it gets slow/drops out as you near the beach and isn’t strong in all the rooms, depending on your room’s location.

My final and biggest disappointment with the cowork at Isla Mujeres were the crowds. During my February/March 2021 trip, you had to be at the cowork by 7:00 am from Monday – Friday in order to secure a seat.

And that was to secure any seat.

In order to secure a good seat (one of four with ocean views), I woke up by 5:15 am each morning. Needless to say, it was brutal.

The irony was that there was a sign on the wall saying the cowork space hours are from 7:00 am – 11:00 pm. Anything but a 24/7 policy for a cowork space is silly in my opinion (you’ve got guests working Europe and Asia times, not to mention the freedom of digital nomads to choose to work when they want). Luckily, they didn’t enforce this rule, and you’ll be given a card that will let you into the cowork space at any time of the day or night.

One of the things that struck me the most about Selina Isla Mujeres was how long people work. It wasn’t uncommon to see people in the cowork space for 12+ hours (I was guilty of this too!).

After speaking with some fellow coworkers about it, we arrived at this conclusion: there isn’t a whole lot to do in Isla Mujeres aside from hanging out at the beach, and you can only hang out at the beach for so many days on end. Therefore, Isla is a great place to get work done, and the cowork is so beautiful that it’s a pleasant place to spend the day (and night and morning).

The Selina Isla Mujeres cowork space in the early morning.
A 5:30 am shot of the cowork space.

In the days before I left, the staff at Isla Mujeres put a new cowork policy into place: you can only leave your desk for 30 minutes at a time. While I understand the motive behind it (people would drop their bags off and leave for hours at a time without working while people were waiting for a seat), 30 minutes is an unreasonable amount of time, in my opinion.

One of the advantages of booking Selina’s colive package is that you can take part in their 1-hour yoga morning classes. Therefore, they forced people to make a decision between getting a space at the cowork space or taking a yoga class—both of which were supposed to be included. Not to mention that 30 minutes isn’t long for a lunch break, especially if you want to grab a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant.

Needless to say, people abided by the rules at first but eventually took on the attitude that as long as they were in the cowork space for most of the time, it was okay to leave for more than 30 minutes.

On the plus side, Saturdays and Sundays were relatively quiet in the cowork space; you can easily walk in late morning and find seats available.

All in all, the cowork space at Selina Isla Mujeres is beautiful, but Selina needs to take responsibility for managing how many people sign up to use it. I personally found it too stressful securing a seat and having to stay there all day, so I left early to head back to Playa del Carmen where you can easily get a seat at 8:00 am and seats would open up throughout the day.

Are you thinking about purchasing a colive package? If so, make sure to check out my Selina Coliving Review. I’ll show you when Selina’s coliving is a deal and when it’ll drain your money.

Important: The cowork space isn’t included with your room price. You’ll need to book and pay for this separately.

P.S.- Are you interested in learning about other Selina cowork spaces? Check out my Selina Mexico Cowork Review.

Safety

I felt very safe staying at Selina Isla Mujeres. The island as a whole has a safe feel to it, and they keep the hostel entrance closed at night with a guard on site.

You’ll be given a wristband upon check-in that you’ll have to wear during your stay (don’t lose it, or else you’ll have to pay 100 pesos). That’s how the staff identifies that you’re supposed to be there.

That’s about all I have to say for the safety side of this Selina Isla Mujeres review!

Cleanliness

Restaurant at Selina Isla Mujeres.
Restaurant.

A Selina Isla Mujeres review wouldn’t be complete without talking about cleanliness. Overall, I was very pleased with the hostel’s housekeeping. It was evident that they cleaned the shared bathrooms multiple times per day and the common spaces were well cared for.

On the surface, the kitchen was among the cleanest I had ever seen at a Selina. It was well organized, too, with cabinets labeling where everything goes, including your food (that’s right, you won’t encounter mounds of non-perishables on the table!).

However, the refrigerators left a lot to be desired—sometimes they were so full that people put chairs against them to keep the door closed. Oh, my!

I heard a few long-term guests comment that the private rooms didn’t get cleaned as often as they would have liked, but I felt they did a good job keeping my 4-bedroom dorm clean.

Selina Isla Mujeres Review: The Good

A modern kitchen and dining area.
Kitchen and dining area.
  • Beautiful, resort-like facility
  • On the beach
  • Within walking distance to tourist attractions and Playa Norte
  • Excellent daily wellness activities
  • Quiet environment (a rarity for Selina!)
  • Volleyball net by the pool
  • Dorm room beds have a privacy curtain

Selina Isla Mujeres Review: The Not So Good

  • WiFi can drop and is spotty for video calls
  • Not many food options in their restaurant
  • Cowork space is too crowded
  • No female-only dorm option

Selina Hopping?

If you’ll be staying at other Selinas in Mexico, make sure to check out my reviews on the following locations:

Selina Cancun Downtown

Selina Mexico City Downtown

Selina Oaxaca

Selina Playa del Carmen

Selina Puerto Escondido

Bonus: Ferry to Isla Mujeres

You’ll need to book a ferry ticket before you head to Isla Mujeres. You can purchase one here.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what time you want to take your ferry; you’ll need to choose a time at checkout, but your ticket will be valid for any departure.

Is Staying at Selina Isla Mujeres Worth It?

Tour center at Selina Isla Mujeres.
Selina’s tour center.

Hands down, I think that staying at Selina Isla Mujeres is worth it, provided you don’t need the highest quality WiFi and are okay with an overcrowded cowork space. The shared facilities are the nicest of any hostel I’ve ever stayed at.

I hope this Selina Isla Mujeres review helped to give you an idea of whether this hostel is a good fit for you. If you have questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help. Alternatively, if you’ve already stayed at Selina Isla Mujeres (or are there now) drop a note to let us know about your experience and how it compares with the information here.

P.S.- Don’t miss my guide on budget-friendly Mexican restaurants in Isla Mujeres.