Location definitely matters in Cancún. If you're looking for affordable accommodations and perhaps some intermingling with locals, downtown is calling your name. In the hotel zone, conversely, visitors often stay in sprawling all-inclusive resorts graced with mesmerizing ocean views, and the prices often reflect that.
More often than not the big decision on where to stay in Cancún comes down to budget. On the mainland, the city center is packed with hostels, intimate B&Bs, mid-range hotels, and even several upmarket options, but primarily it consists of places that are easy on the wallet. Hotel zone accommodations, on the other hand, are usually of the top-end variety. The pricier room rates typically get you massive pools, all-day eats and bottomless drinks, white-sand beaches at your doorstep, and in some cases, extravagant luxury.