Selina Playa del Carmen: An Insider Review

Playa del Carmen is a hopping place for digital nomads and northerners escaping winter. Since it has a more backpacker vibe than Cancun, hostel options are plentiful, so you might be wondering what it’s like to stay at Selina. This Selina Playa del Carmen review is based on my six-week stay. Yep, I spent a lot of time there.

My opinion throughout this article is unbiased—Selina didn’t give me any perks or money for this review. In fact, they don’t even know I’m writing it.

Accessibility Note: Selina Playa del Carmen isn’t wheelchair accessible. If you’re a wheelchair user, check out our post on Wheelchair Accessibility in Playa del Carmen.

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’ve stayed at many Selinas during my travels. They’re far from a perfect hostel chain, but I love that many of them have cowork spaces. They also have tons of amenities that traditional hostels don’t have.

If you’ll be traveling to other parts of Mexico and are thinking about staying at Selina, make sure to check out my other Selina Mexico reviews at the end of this article.

What Does Google Think?

Google’s ratings of Selinas are often entertaining. In the case of Selina Playa del Carmen, their 2-star rating gets a thumbs up, in my opinion.

Selina Playa del Carmen is set in an older building and has a more run-down feel than many of the other Selinas I’ve stayed at. However, the number of amenities they offer coupled with the hostel’s fantastic location makes it deserving of more than a 1-star rating.

Speaking of location…

Selina Playa del Carmen Location

Selina’s Playa del Carmen hostel is located off of trendy 5th Avenue. This pedestrian-only boulevard is a whopping 5 miles long. It’s lined with touristy shops and enough restaurants to last you a year of trying a new eating spot each day.

Street vendors on 5th Avenue Playa del Carmen.
5th Avenue. The light blue building in the background is Selina Playa del Carmen.

Selina Playa del Carmen is a large complex. Your room will either face 5th Avenue or a side street/backs of other buildings.

Now, you’re probably wondering—what about the beach?

When you step outside the hostel, look to your left and you’ll be greeted by the Caribbean’s turquoise waters. You’ll be a mere block and a half from the small sandy Playa del Carmen Beach.

A more spacious beach is about a five-minute walk from the hostel. You’ll also be about a 10-minute walk from Walmart where you can stock up on food to cook at Selina (although you may not want to stock up too much—more on that soon).

If you’re on a budget, I recommend trying out the many great restaurants behind Selina. Check out my recommendations for the top budget-friendly Mexican restaurants in Playa del Carmen for ideas.

Hostel Setup

Despite being such a large building, the entrance itself to Selina Playa del Carmen feels a bit small, but it’s a nice lobby area. There’s only one entrance, which is located on a side street from 5th Avenue.

Once you pass through the lobby, you’ll be greeted by various staircases, a bar, picnic tables, and the swimming pool. There’s an elevator on-site, but it usually doesn’t work, so be prepared to climb up to three stories to get to your room.

There’s a small activities center on the roof that offers ocean views (over some less than attractive buildings in front of Selina). It’s an amazing place to watch the sunrise, though. Yoga and other wellness activity classes are held there regularly.

Rooms at Selina Playa del Carmen

Micro room at Selina Playa del Carmen.
Micro room.

Now we’ve arrived at our Selina Playa del Carmen review where we’ll talk about what’s likely one of the most important things to you—the rooms.

Dorm Rooms

Selina Playa del Carmen offers the following types of dorm rooms:

  • 4 beds
  • 8 beds
  • 10 beds
  • 20 beds

All dorm rooms come with sheets, a personal locker (you need to bring your own lock). Some also have an en-suite bathroom.

If the bathroom in your room is occupied, there are plenty of other communal bathrooms you can use.

Towels and blankets are available for rent. You’ll need to ask the front desk for details.

The dorm beds at Selina Playa del Carmen leave a lot to be desired compared to some of Selina’s other destinations. They have an approximately 2-foot board by your head, which offers minimal privacy.

Bunk beds at Selina Playa del Carmen: a review.

However, you’ll have access to a small shelf and (usually) an outlet near your bed. The mattresses themselves are decent, especially for hostel standards.

Travel Tip: If you are spending a lot of time staying in dorm rooms, consider bringing your own blankets and/or sheets. Snag a bottom bunk, then use the sheets to form your own little private tent.

Example of a fort tent you can make if you have a bottom bunk in a Selina dorm room:

My bunk bed with hanging blankets and sheets for privacy.
This setup kept me sane during my 3-months of dorm room hostel living in Mexico.

Private Rooms

There is no shortage of private room categories at Selina. When it comes to the 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 ultra-tiny room with a full-size bed and barely enough floor space to put your luggage. 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.

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 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.

The Loft: Perfect for the long-term business traveler. The Loft can hold up to four guests but it can also accommodate up to 15 people gathering for a business or social gathering. It’s equipped with Selina’s luxury amenities.

A Note on Selina Pricing

Selina Playa del Carmen at night.

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, Selina’s breakfasts are seriously amazing, so I recommend booking with breakfast included!
  • 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

Selina Playa del Carmen activities center at sunrise.
Activities center.

A Selina Playa del Carmen review wouldn’t be complete without covering the amenities it offers guests.

One of the biggest attractions to the Selina brand is that they design their hostels so you don’t ever 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 Playa del Carmen:

  • Swimming pool
  • Bar
  • Free WiFi
  • Free daily social activities
  • Free drinking water
  • Cowork
  • Activities center
  • Library
  • Lots of outdoor common areas

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

Selina Playa del Carmen Cowork

Selina Playa del Carmen cowork space.

The cowork at Selina Playa del Carmen is fairly small, but it (mostly) serves its purpose. Outlets are plentiful and the WiFi is fast and reliable. (Note: this was the case for my January – mid-February 2021 stay. When I returned in mid-March 2021, the WiFi would go out, usually anywhere from a few seconds to 10 minutes).

There’s a good amount of natural light that enters the cowork. However, since the windows face the side street, there’s a lot of noise that seeps through.

Speaking of noise, the two phone booths and one small meeting room aren’t insulated. This seems to be a recurring issue at Selinas and something I wish they’d take more care with fixing.

Coffee, tea, and water are available 24/7, in theory. During peak days (Monday – Wednesday) it’s common to find empty water and coffee pots. You’ll also probably encounter full seats on these days (even Thursdays and Fridays can get full, depending on the week). I recommend arriving by 8:00 am to be guaranteed a seat.

What I really enjoy about the Selina Playa del Carmen cowork is the outdoor areas. In theory, these are for all guests, but remote workers tend to take them over, wanting to soak in some fresh air and warm Mexico weather when the air conditioning gets too much to bear.

There’s a code to access the cowork space which allows you to enter 24/7, although technically Selina says on their website that the cowork space closes at 11:00 pm (which I think we can all agree is ridiculous when you have people working in all sorts of time zones).

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. There’s usually not an issue with availability if you book it upon your arrival.

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

Safety

With a location right on 5th Avenue, Selina Playa del Carmen is well secured day and night. The side street where the entrance is located is well lit and has plenty of people walking around there at night.

Selina has a nighttime security guard and, as a safety measure, you’ll be given a wristband to show that you’re a guest at the hostel.

Cleanliness

Selina Playa del Carmen kitchen.
Kitchen on a cleaner day.

Let’s start with the good when it comes to cleanliness—they cleaned my dorm room daily from top to bottom, washing the floors, taking out the trash, and cleaning the bathroom.

The communal bathrooms were also as clean as you can expect from public restroom facilities.

And now the bad: the kitchen was in a constant state of grossness. Even when it appeared clean, the two full-size fridges were always packed with food. They need to do a better job of cleaning out those fridges regularly.

I ventured as far as making oatmeal in the microwave, and even that gave me the heebie-jeebies since the microwave needed cleaning too.

Psst! Are you trying to decide between a trip to Playa del Carmen and Tulum? Check out my post on Tulum vs. Playa del Carmen to learn about 10 mistakes to avoid.

Selina Playa del Carmen Review: The Good

  • Great location
  • Free water
  • Lots of dorm room options
  • Safe area with lots to do nearby
  • Free social activities
  • Friendly staff
Selina Playa del Carmen balcony.

Selina Playa del Carmen Review: The Not So Good

  • Extremely loud, especially on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
  • WiFi is spotty in some areas (Note: WiFi is NOT an issue in the cowork)
  • Restaurant has more limited food options than other Selinas
  • Kitchen is often dirty and doesn’t have enough plates and utensils
  • No option for a female-only dorm

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 Isla Mujeres

Selina Mexico City Downtown

Selina Oaxaca

Selina Puerto Escondido

Bonus: Bus Travel in Mexico

ADO is by far the best company for traveling around Mexico. Their buses are new, clean, comfy, and equipped with air conditioning and WiFi. If trying to book your bus ticket on ADO’s website makes your head spin, I recommend booking your ADO bus ticket through our friends at Bookaway.

I use Bookaway for most of my Mexico ground travel. You can even book a private transfer with them if that’s your style.

Is Staying at Selina Playa del Carmen Worth It?

Bar at night.

If you don’t mind noise and older facilities, Selina Playa del Carmen is a solid place to stay. It draws in a sociable crowd that’s a mix of vacationers/partiers and digital nomads.

Do you have questions after reading this Selina Playa del Carmen review? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help. If you’ve already stayed at this Selina, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Psst! While you’re in Playa, don’t miss these amazing budget Mexican Restaurants in Playa del Carmen.