Beach Shack Extraordinaire: Lyoban Hostal

Lyoban is under new management and has some surprising extras for an affordable beach hotel.

Lyoban Hostal was one of the originals on Zipolite beach. Built in 1989, the hotel was around even before this stretch of Pacific coast became the place to let it all hang out—literally—as Zipolite was named Mexico’s only official nude beach in 2016.

The palapa-roofed hotel and its worn wooden floor evoke beach bum haven from the moment you step in the door. It has the requisite sand-covered dining deck floor that faces the sea and an upstairs porch strung end to end with hammocks. While the hotel surely shows its age in a kind of vintage-beachy-charm, it’s recently been taken over by new managers making some great improvements.

The pool has been newly sealed and painted, the main bar is new, handmade wooden deck chairs have been added to the hangout spots and mattresses that have outlived their usefulness are being exchanged for new ones. There are also three new private rooms with bathrooms in construction on the second floor.

Rooms center around an open-air dining room downstairs. The first floor rooms are fine, but have a shared bathroom at one end of the hotel and feel less open than the upstairs rooms which have open ceilings and two front rooms with incredible views of the ocean. The rightside upstairs room is the best in the house, with Swiss Family Robinson-style wooden shutters that open up the sea and let in that salty breeze. Accommodations are no-frills, just beds and bedside tables, but they suit the purpose – you’ll want to spend your hours on the beach or at the downstairs bar sipping cheap Coronas out of the blaze of the Pacific sun. If you want to go really cheap, you can rent a hammock for 100p a night and sleep suspended from the ground with the roaring rush of the waves in your ears.

The beach directly in front of the hotel is rocky, so while creating a dramatic landscape and providing that monstrous ocean sound, it’s dangerous for swimming. Walk 20 steps to the left or right of the hotel however and you can swim or surf in some decent-sized waves. The current is stronger or weaker depending the season so always take notice of the flags on the beach (red for dangerous, yellow for medium, green for calm) and if you are a person nervous about the ocean, walk down the beach to swim in front of the lifeguard stand.

In my opinion most beach hotels offer ho-hum food – people come for the view and aren’t picky about their meals so hotels don’t invest much in the menu. At Lyoban, however, everything I ate was delicious, especially the fish tacos and breakfast chilaquiles. (Fish tacos, by the way, were surprisingly difficult to come by on the rest of the beach.) The new managers own a coffeeshop in Mexico City so the coffee is top notch.

The other bonus is the bar plays cool tunes, classic rock, some old-school salsa, and boleros at a volume that is totally conducive to having a conversation and not feeling like your ears are bleeding. Plus, unlike some cheaper places I’ve stayed, the bar closes at a decent time and doesn’t keep guests up all night with the noise. Several members of the staff are fully bilingual, there is a volleyball net set up out front for impromptu games, and the hotel is diligent in doing their part to keep the beach clean from ocean debris.

By the time this gets posted there will inevitably even more improvements taking place at Lyoban and I’m interested to see how the hotel will continue to evolve. For now, it’s a great inexpensive option on Zipolite beach, with a mellow ambiance and laid-back hospitality. You can make your reservation ahead of time through Travelocity, Expedia or the hostal website.

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