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Hotel Tip Of The Week: Casa Roa, Mexico City

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Achy bones, heavy eyelids and tongues too twisted to speak Spanish, Dani and I lumbered slowly to our room at the Casa Roa Bed and Breakfast after midnight, falling almost immediately into bed and taking in nothing of our surroundings at all. Luckily Casa Roa’s Mi Casa es Su Casa motto is in full effect and we were welcomed with open arms, even at that ungodly hour.

Casa Roa Mexico CityOur true first impression of the B&B was waking up in our room – possibly the best way to take it all in for the first time. The sun shone in through tiny cracks in the heavy dark curtains, which, when I opened them, revealed bright pink, yellow and orange light filtered through the city smog on a quiet morning in the peaceful Satellite neighborhood far outside the buzzing center of Mexico City.

The sleek and chic split level Casa Roa house is just one in an entire area of upscale suburban homes. Our sunny upstairs room is spacious, with a comfortable Queen bed, 50in flat screen TV with Netflix streaming included, an en-suite bathroom and a closet with enough room for a diva. The simple green garden below is lined with comfortable lawn furniture and fruit trees.

Casa Roa Mexico City yardFrom the fig trees we eat fresh fig jam for breakfast in the morning, along with a delicious homemade Mexican breakfast of chilaquiles, strong coffee and other exotic fruits. The table in the shiny modern kitchen is right in the heart of the room and feels casual, like we’re visiting friends rather than being guests at a hotel. The television is on whenever we are in there, in the morning we watched cartoons, and then a very strange 1970s Mexican film with a Lucha Libre wrestler and some rather dramatic women. It made for a bizarre backdrop to breakfast, but most definitely an authentic, if quirky, Mexican feeling.

Casa Roa Mexico City kitchenBeing so far outside the city center we decided to explore the Satelite neighborhood and recover from a long trip the day before. We picked up wine, cheese, bread and other nibbles at the supermarket nearby to have a quiet night in the room watching a film. Otherwise we spent the day catching up on work and sleep.

The hotel’s location is far from Mexico’s Centro Historico, beyond the reach of the city’s excellent subway system.  This makes Casa Roa a better spot for business people working in the area, longer-term students, frequent visitors to the city who know their way around, and digital nomads who prioritize work. The wi-fi here is as high speed and dependable as it gets for that. First time visitors to the city might also prefer Casa Roa and the feeling of having a ‘home’ in a city of 22 million people, especially one that is so warm and friendly to guests. Just be prepared to take a lot of cabs or navigate a very ‘local’ bus experience.

Casa Roa B&B Mexico CityStand Out Feature: The Food

During our stay, we gobbled down Gabi’s truly traditional Mexican breakfasts of chilaquiles and huevos rancheros, everything made fresh right into the kitchen as we drank coffee and chatted together. Later in the day, Gabi happened to be making Rajas con Papas, or grilled poblano pepper and potato salad. She made us a whole plate full, just so we could try it and it was so delicious. She showed me how they grill, then sweat the peppers to get the skin off, and I walked out of the hotel stay with an amazing new authentically Mexican recipe. The fridge is open for guests to use, as is the stove and all the dishes, and there even a couch and TV in the kitchen, encouraging you to spend time together in there. If the way to our hearts was our stomachs, Casa Roa won us over in the kitchen.

Casa Roa Mexico City homemade breakfastRoom for Improvement: Information availability 

The owner of the hotel, Isabel, is the matriarch and head of the house. In fact, it was her warmth and friendliness mentioned on Tripadvisor that encouraged us to stay all the way out in the Satelite area. Unfortunately, a family emergency kept Isabel away that weekend, along with the little things we had read about, like how Isabel is always in the kitchen and around the house, helping guests with recommendations and information and calling cabs and basically making everyone feel at home. In her absence, however, we felt a little bit stranded. Our suggested solution is a folder filled with information, for those cases that Isabel can not be available. In it we would include maps of the local area pinpointing restaurants, food, stores and walks to do in the neighborhood and local tourist attractions. We would add clear directions, a map and instructions to the nearest buses to the city center, as well as little pieces of paper with the Casa Roa address and directions in Spanish from the center for the cab drivers, plus average taxi rates to main points of interest. We would have also really liked a welcome letter explaining the history of the house, how it became a bed and breakfast plus details on when breakfast is served, when the gates get locked, and other little things we felt were otherwise missing in her absence.

Casa Roa in Mexico CityOverall 

Casa Roa is an extremely comfortable, gorgeously decorated home away from home offering a glimpse of authentic Mexican life in contemporary, upscale  surroundings.

Location: Fernando Gonzalez Roa #8 | Cto. Juristas, Satelite. Edo de Mexico | Mexico city, 53100
Price: Starting at $75.00 for a double room; breakfast included.
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Good wi-fi connection and work space in the communal kitchen as well as a living room
Amenities: Free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, Netflix, laundry service
Website:
www.casa-roa.com

casa roa b&b in Mexico City

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Hotel Tip Of The Week: Chill Out Flat B&B in Mexico City

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You never know which small detail you ignore in the middle of a stressful day that will become an issue later.

Our backpacks were heavy and getting heavier by the minute as we walked back and forth along one block of Mexico City’s fabulously restored Centro Historico. According to the address and the map, the Chill Out Flat B&B had to be there somewhere, but where would the cozy little bed and breakfast we saw online be hiding amongst some of Mexico’s grandest historical buildings, we wondered.

Mexico City Centro HistoricoA female security guard in front of what appeared to be an office building watched us pass by, but gave me a knowing look when I caught her eye. When we wandered by a second time a few minutes later, I climbed the steps to ask her what I thought was a ridiculous question, about a little hotel. Before a word left my mouth she smiled and said in her Spanish accent – Chillout?

Why yes, yes, we are looking for the Chillout, we said happily. This way, she said, pointing us to the elevator in the back of the building. 1st floor.

It was then that a few words on a screen buried deep in my memory wiggled its way into my mind. Ah…yes…complicated directions in the confirmation email. I meant to have those up on my iPhone.

The building itself is a six-story building, with apartments and businesses spread throughout. Once we arrived on the first floor, we entered a patio surrounded by closed, private apartment doors. Sure this had to be wrong or the start of some strange adventure, one quick glance to the right down a short hallway revealed a sign, in colorful stick-on block letters: CHILL OUT FLAT B&B. Seconds later we were embraced by a ray of sunshine, Eloisa, who owns and operates the place with her partner David.

Despite being in the middle of cleaning, a mop in her gloved hands, she couldn’t have been more friendly as she led us into the apartment and chatted for a few minutes before rushing off to make our room ready.

If the Chill Out felt as comfortable as staying in a private home, it’s because that is essentially what it is. David’s mother bought the apartment years before the city center’s renovations, against warnings from friends and family about what was then an undesirable neighborhood. Thanks to her foresight, twenty five years later, she has let David and Eloisa run the B&Bl while she lives in a much more comfortable spot in Mexico City’s high-end suburbs. The living room is comfortable with two small couches around a coffee table filled with guide books, maps, flyers and pamphlets, plus a TV, DVD player and computer with internet access in the corner. The fully-stocked kitchen is available 24 hours a day to guests, so we immediately made ourselves each a cup of green tea and set about planning our afternoon in Mexico City while we waited for our room to get ready. Within minutes, the Chillout felt like home.

Mexico City Chill Out Flat B&BWe don’t meet David until later that evening, when we are busy writing and working at one of the kitchen tables. He popped over from the apartment across the hall where they now live. David could not be more friendly, and we talked travel for ages. A flight attendant for a few years, including the first year or so when he launched the bed and breakfast, David finally quit serving drinks at 35,000 feet when the B&B took off – thanks, in part, to the hundreds of five star reviews on Tripadvisor. Today, they have taken their success to the second floor of the same building, where they have opened a Chillout Yoga Studio.

There are six rooms here, so the feeling is incredibly intimate. Ours is outside the main apartment, with a separate entrance. The en-suite room is small and simple. Immaculately clean with a comfortable Queen bed, a bedside table and lamp, dresser and colorful Mexican paintings on the wall. It could be a room in anyone’s house, except that extra bit more comfortable which, along with warm, fuzzy towels and organic toiletries make it a quality bed and breakfast.

Mexico City Chill Out Flat B&B roomStand Out Feature: Community in the Kitchen

Every morning from Monday to Saturday, Eloisa prepares a full Mexican breakfast for guests. Unfortunately we are only there on Sunday, but in a way this gave us some great insight. Even on her one day off, the kitchen is fully stocked with homemade yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and jams, coffee, tea, a kettle, water and other little snacks available until 10pm. The kitchen is roomy, with three tables and unlike other B&Bs where the kitchen feels off-limits, the sense of community feels almost like a hostel, though the cleanliness, quality and privacy are definitely several levels up from that.

Stand Out Feature: Location

Normally we try to avoid choosing a feature that owners have so little control over, but it would be a mistake not to at least emphasize how incredible the location of the Chill Out Flat B&B is. A ten minute walk from the Zocalo, and we can see the Palacio de Bellas Artes from the window. After a few hours of exploring the city center, we hopped back upstairs and just had a quick lie down, maybe 30 minutes or so, before heading back out to find the famous Mexico City bakery and have a drink at a popular nearby restaurant. Later that night, when Dani ran out to get us tickets for the airport bus in the morning, she left the hotel and was immediately engulfed in a street festival. At 6am the next morning we snuck out and walked five minutes to the airport bus. Staying at the Chillout is like having an extremely well-connected friend with a coveted downtown apartment.

Room for Improvement: Being picky – Sticky locks

Magnified by being placed in this section, the issue of the lock is a small detail, it is just the only issue we had, so it bears mention here. The lock to the main apartment is old, sticky and complicated to open. We came in and out often and early, and felt we had to rattle, bang and scrape at the lock too much, once or twice feeling like we actually wouldn’t get in on our own and worrying at the same time about waking up the other guests. Although the whole experience is very personal and homey, nice, new industrial keys and locks would be a final little touch bringing the Chill Out to perfection.

Mexico City Chill Out Flat B&B

Overall

A stay at Chillout Flat B&B is an intimate, personal experience unlike any other in Mexico City, a perfect combination of friendliness, quality and location at a completely fair price. The only thing you have to worry about is reading those directions in the confirmation email carefully. David and Eloisa take care of the rest for you.

Location: Bolivar #8, Apto #102, Centro Historico, C.P.06000 Mexico D.F.
Price: Starting at $90.00 for a double room / $63.00 for a single room; breakfast included.
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Great wi-fi connection and work space in the communal kitchen
Amenities: Free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, excellent location in the Centro Historico
Website:
www.chilloutflat.com.mx

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Hotel Tip Of The Week: El Patio 77 in Mexico City

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‘Is this it?’ Dani asked to no one in particular.

Without much trouble at all, the cab driver located the corner building, number 77, on Icazbalceta Street in the San Rafael neighborhood of Mexico City, but the house looked like any other in this local neighborhood.

A man in skinny jean cutoffs and long sleeves leaning casually against the brick next to the giant iron doors offered to take our bags inside.

‘Um, is this it? Is this El Patio 77?’ we both asked again.

‘Yes, of course, I am not just a friendly stranger,’ said Diego, the co-owner, charming us with his French accent. Carrying our heavy packs, he led us in to the first of two gorgeous patios of this beautifully restored colonial mansion which he and partner Alan renovated and turned in to Mexico’s first-ever eco-friendly hotel.

el patio 77 mexico city B&BWithin a few minutes of chatting with Diego while our room was prepared, we already had plans to visit the nearby Museo Del Chopo art museum, had a map in our hands with a self-guided neighborhood walking tour of the area and we felt completely at home. We knew right away that this was exactly the intimate experience we were looking for during our stay in Mexico City, a metropolis of over 22 million people. The quiet bed and breakfast is set in an assuming working class neighborhood that is just three short stops on the metro from the buzzing hub of the Zocalo, or city center.

What we came to discover throughout our stay is that El Patio 77 is a sophisticated layering of Mexico’s past, present and future.

el patio 77 mexico city roomThe past is represented in the high ceilings, wooden floors and delicious antique furniture sparsely decorating the 19th century building. Our room, the Michoacán, has a simple yet comfortable queen bed, an armchair, a wardrobe and a simple table in the center. Two sliding glass doors open to faux, wrought iron balconies and floor to ceiling wooden shutters inside are thick enough to keep out all noise and light from the world outside. I enjoyed the butterflies on the light fixtures around the room that glow in the dark.  Named after states of Mexico, each room is similarly furnished, punctuated by a collection of modern Mexican art by emerging young artists also featured in their on-site art gallery – The 77.

el patio 77 mexico city artThe colorful art reflects a modern-day Mexico weaving past traditions and current culture, while the service of the hotel staff provided a type of tourism geared toward travel-savvy guests. We were informed, not spoon-fed generic experiences, and the focus was on the local surroundings. Rooms are provided with a thick binder with information, maps of local restaurants (try as many of them as you can for deliciously affordable and authentic Mexican fare) and tours, including the free, self-guided walking tour through San Rafael and the surrounding neighborhoods. On Sunday morning, we set off with our map and walked through the streets as the city woke up. We dodged joggers in the parks, passed several churches already in session and watched street food vendors setting up on street corners and in front of those churches, ready to feed the devout as they poured out after religious services. Although we spent two weeks here in 2010, this walk gave us the most personal glimpse of the city we had ever had.

From Diego and Alan, to the next in command, also named Diego, all the way to the friendly woman who makes breakfasts and cleans the rooms, the staff is knowledgeable, welcoming and made us feel entirely at home. The rooms are spotless, as are the shared bathrooms, which are also decorated with creative artistic touches. All but three suites share bathrooms, which for the higher room rates might be a bit unorthodox for some. However, I suspect that the well-traveled clientele that makes up the majority of guests have no problem with that. While it would be unfair to label it a hostel for grown-ups, El Patio 77 has the feeling of an avant-garde bed and breakfast for American and Europeans in their thirties who have done the round-the-world, grungy hostel thing in their twenties and are now looking for original, independent accommodation. Breakfast is served daily in one of two cozy covered patios, and includes fair-trade coffee, homemade jams, toast, fresh fruit and a traditional Mexican breakfast dish.

el patio 77 b&b mexico cityThe discreet, almost unseen layer here is the future-focused eco-friendly policies of this Mexico City B&B. Solar panels on the roof heat the water for the showers, while water recollection tanks collect the water to be filtered and re-used in toilets and to water plants. Guests are requested to use a special shampoo/body soap combo which is easier on the filters, but other than that, the eco-friendly aspects of the hotel are present but non-intrusive.

Stand Out Feature: The Staff

We must have emailed fifteen times with the staff between our initial inquiries and their follow-up emails asking us about our stay. They genuinely care about the quality of the experience and providing a place where travelers feel at home. We felt welcomed, yet were given plenty of privacy and space. Anytime we had a question, there was someone there to answer it, fully and with an interesting story behind it as well.

Room for improvement: Breakfast

For all the thoughtful touches in all other aspects of our stay, we felt that, as a Bed and Breakfast, the breakfast came up a bit short. Though the ingredients are fresh and high-quality, we would prefer to see two main dish options, either potatoes or beans on the side to round out the meal in addition to toast, and a carafe of water with two glasses on the table in addition to the freshly squeezed juice and fair-trade coffee.

el patio 77 breakfast plateOverall

El Patio 77 is perfect for travelers looking for a simple yet stylish hotel reflecting real life in Mexico City.

el patio 77 in mexico cityLocation: Icazbalceta 77, Colonia San Rafael C.P. 06470, Mexico D.F.
Price: Starting at US$70.30 + tax per night for 2 persons breakfast included
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes
Amenities: Free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, patio and big lounge room on the ground floor
Website:
www.elpatio77.com

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Hotel Tip Of The Week: Posada Ziga in Mazunte, Mexico

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Welcome to our weekly series Hotel Tip of The Week. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way. For all the dingy, disappointing budget digs, there are as many budget accommodation gems. We post one hotel tip of the week, every week, of places we feel confident recommending after having tried and tested them ourselves to show you how budget travel can be possible as well as enjoyable.

The night before we discovered Posada Ziga had been the most disgusting, dirty, dreadful night of our trip to date and at the break of dawn we left the makeshift ‘hostel’ in search of a better hotel in Mazunte. A quick trip up and down the beach and we had completed the survey of available hotels in this beach village. Located 1 hour from the eco-resort town of Huatulco and 40 minutes from Puerto Escondido, Mazunte itself has only 700 inhabitants who share a few unpaved side streets running off of one main road with visitors. This charming little beach town has several nice hotels in the budget range, but none that swept us off our feet for the price. That is, until we discovered Posada Ziga, the very last hotel on the beach, and coincidentally right next to the hostel we were trying to escape.

View from Posada Ziga MazunteThese two Mazunte hotels may be neighbors, but they are worlds apart, in the way that Posada Ziga does just about everything right, and its neighbor, well… we won’t give names because it will probably have changed hands a few times before you get there anyway. Back to Posada Ziga. The small hotel has only 14 rooms at the time of our visit, 8 of which have private bathrooms, though builders were hard at work with at least six brand-new rooms that should open soon. The best feature of the hotel is that each room has a little terrace (see Stand Out Features) with views out over the Pacific. The rooms are clean, spacious and kept in top condition, each has a little table and wardrobe, is equipped with mosquito nets and a small in-room safe (rare in budget hotels!) are kept spotless by the cleaning ladies. Staying here also means contributing to the local economy, as Posada Ziga is run by a local Mexican family, contrary to most Mazunte hotels which are owned by foreigners who relocated to the area.

Room at Posada Ziga MazunteSituated high on the rocks that form the frame of the bay, Posada Ziga really offers unparalleled views of the beach, especially good from the restaurant. While the menu leaves a bit to be desired (see Room for Improvement below), the free wi-fi works best here, although attempting to concentrate on anything work-related can prove quite a challenge, especially with the set of stairs beckoning you to the beach straight from the restaurant. We did actually manage to write our First 100-days post from here, since Posada Ziga was the spot for our first 100 days’ celebration.

Our terrace at Posada Ziga MazunteStand Out Feature: The Terraces

Each room shares a terrace with one other room and each one has ocean views, a table, chairs and a very sturdy hammock. The hammocks are new, well-maintained, and hang just right so there is no scraping the floor with your behind. The terraces are roofed, so that even if it rains, you can still sit outside and enjoy the breeze from the ocean.

Hammocks at Posada Ziga MazunteRoom for improvement: The Restaurant

The staff at Posada Ziga does a fabulous job, and there is only one thing that could be improved: The restaurant – specifically the restaurant prices. The clientele at Posada Ziga are budget to mid-range travelers, but the prices seem to be inflated to squeeze too much out the guests. With the fantastic range of delicious restaurants on and off the beach, the hotel restaurant at Posada Ziga could probably compete much better if prices were lowered. The menu was also a boring selection of seafood and soup, managing to leave out most of the dishes that make Mexican food so delicious.

Posada Ziga Restaurant MazunteOverall

Posada Ziga is a great hotel for the budget-conscious traveler who wants to escape Mexico cities; it is the perfect place to relax, swing in a hammock and enjoy a good read. The restaurant terrace offers tremendous views over the entire bay, and views can also be had from your very own terrace. This Mazunte hotel is a clean, quiet place perfect to recharge and chill out for a few days.

Location: The last hotel on the beach (east end of the village)
Price:
Double rooms with private bathroom $34-$42, double rooms with shared bath room $25-$32.
LGBT Friendly:
We think so.
Amenities:
Wi-fi, mosquito nets, hammocks, restaurant, views
Digital Nomad Friendly:
Yes
Website:
www.posadaziga.com

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Hotel Tip of the Week: Le Gite del Sol in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

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Welcome to our weekly series Hotel Tip Of The Week. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way. For all the dingy, disappointing budget digs, there are as many budget accommodation gems. We post one hotel tip of the week, every week, of places we feel confident recommending after having tried and tested them ourselves.

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After a long and hectic night bus ride, all we wanted was to when we arrived at 7am in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico was to check in immediately at Le Gite del Sol, where we had made reservations. Based on previous budget hotel experience, we figured this wasn’t possible and pulled up a park bench to wait a few hours. Had we known how friendly and accommodating the French-Canadian/Mexican owners were, we would have made our way their immediately, as Le Gite del Sol is one of the few budget hotels in Mexico we came across that made us feel like a valued guest in the way a boutique hotel or B&B does.

Eventually we lugged our packs down the 5 hilly blocks to the hotel, whose location is just far enough out for the street to be relatively quiet. Le Gite del Sol, which means Bed & Breakfast of the Sun in a mix of French and Spanish – just like the couple who run it, is more of a split between a B&B in one building and a budget hotel in the second building just four houses up across the street. The main house offers big en-suite rooms, a shared kitchen and a sunny patio space where all guests eat breakfast. The second building, where our room was, has smaller, bare bones budget rooms with shared bathrooms.
San Cristobal street

While the difference in quality was palpable, both buildings were spotlessly clean (cleaning staff is on hand all day throughout both properties), and over on our side we had no issue at all with the shared bathrooms. The main house has the beautiful patio, and the single and double en-suite rooms (for $20 and $26 respectively) are certainly a step or two above the other house. The cheaper rooms in the second house are basic. Each room has a bed, a desk, a closet and a window which opens to the hallway. The rooms are small, lack good ventilation, but they are cleaned every day by the diligent staff. Doubles cost $16, singles $13. For that price, you get breakfast included (see below in Stand Out Features), a free wi-fi connection that always works, and the kitchen in the second house is big and invites you to cook a meal with fresh ingredients from the market, with 6 tables, a computer with free internet, plenty of space to work, read, cook and hang out. Water is free, as well, and if some sloppy guests don’t clean up, the kitchen is kept clean anyway by staff.
San Cristobal Market

The Mexican woman owner is a no-nonsense boss who is friendly and her attention to detail is spot on. She remembers how you like your coffee in the morning and conversations had in passing about where guests have just been and where they are off to next. Her French-Canadian husband and partner is the perfect ying to her yang. He genuinely wants you to enjoy your stay and you get the feeling that he was a long-term traveller himself and wants to make sure that you have the kind of experience at his hotel that is so often lacking on our travels.

Le Gite del Sol is also an authorized booking agent for tours and buses. The prices were exactly the same as in the offices in town, and they gave you honest answers to questions about quality of tours or buses, leaving you feeling well-informed.

Stand Out Feature: Breakfast

Breakfast is included in the price and served every morning on the patio in the main building. You get a choice of eggs and toast, just toast, or cereal. Although the breakfast doesn’t fill you up until dinner, it is good comfort food and it is great to have so many options, which is not the norm at many budget places in Mexico.

Stand Out Feature: The “above and beyond” factor

We had to catch a very early bus our last morning along with three other hotel guests, and would have missed breakfast, but the owners woke up and served us all breakfast at 6am so that we would leave with full stomachs. They could have easily left us hungry, but offered us this and it was greatly appreciated. This was something we have not had before or since that stay at Le Gite Del Sol. Throughout our stay at Le Gite del Sol we felt this above-and-beyond factor at work, the extra explanations, the ease of booking with them, the little extra tips on what to see and do in town made us feel like special guests.

Room for improvement: The Rooms

The cheaper rooms in the second house lack decoration and could have more heart to them. They are definitely small, though not cramped, and need a bit more effort to feel a bit fresher. However, in Mexico for $13 (single) or $16 a double, plus breakfast and that personal touch, it is hard to complain about the rooms.

Overall

Le Gite del Sol will make your time in San Cristolbal de las Casas an enjoyable one. Though it is no frills it is equally no frustrations, as this hostel is B&B-minded with their guests at heart.

Location: Francisco I Madero #82, Vicente Guerrero
Price: Private single with bath $20, private single shared bath $13, Private double no bath $16, Private double en suite $26.
LGBT Friendly: not un-friendly
Amenities: Kitchen, free wi-fi, tour agency on-site, breakfast included, hot showers
Website: www.legitedelsol.com

To book a hotel in Mexico, check Roomguide.co.uk for accommodation options throughout the country.

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Hotel Tip Of The Week: Hostel La Candelaria in Valladolid, Mexico

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Welcome to our weekly series Hotel Tip of The Week. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way. For all the dingy, disappointing budget digs, there are as many budget accommodation gems. We post one hotel tip of the week, every week, of places we feel confident recommending after having tried and tested them ourselves in order to show that budget travel can be both enjoyable and comfortable.

Although we have mentioned this Mexican hostel in our post on Valladolid as well as in our 33 things we love about Mexico post, a full review on La Candelaria hostel is long overdue.

La Candelaria is located directly on a sleepy square in the tranquil colonial town of Valladolid on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, near the famous Chichen Itza Mayan ruins. It is run by a Dutch-Nicaraguan couple whose hard work and love of their hostel, plus their own travel experience, can be seen by the presence of all those miniscule amenities that together make all the difference in comfort and guest satisfaction.

We arrived after a quick ten-minute walk from the bus station, and were welcomed with a full tour of the premises and all public spaces, helping us to immediately feel at home. Next, we were given a map marked with all important tourist sites in town, the path to two cenotes out of town, good places to eat and where to get cash.

On our way to the room, we first spotted the two curious little Chihuahuas and the cat who live in the hostel. These resident pets are always happy to curl up in your lap if you ever feel the need for company and provide plenty of hilarious entertainment.

The private rooms are set up on both levels facing the spacious outdoor courtyard. We stayed in two different rooms at the Candelaria, and both rooms had hard, comfortable beds with fluffy pillows, bright white sheets, cable TV, a small table and Mexican decorations. There are several dorm beds in two rooms in the main building, separated with women upstairs and men downstairs, and large secure lockers for each bed. Two cozy communal rooms with sofas, TVs, musical instruments and games really help the hostel feel like home.

The bathrooms are shared – the ones for the dorms are inside the house and the private rooms share outdoor showers / toilets on both levels outside. The bathrooms are kept spotlessly clean and the showers have great showerheads with consistent hot water.

Perfect for bookworms, the outdoor space has several hammocks hanging in under shady trees, far from the large outdoor kitchen (which along with the smaller indoor kitchen makes up one of the Stand Out features below).

The covered sitting area in the yard is very inviting, with two long tables plus a smaller table and chairs, where guests come together to chat and relax in the evenings. The wi-fi also works the best here, so this is where most Facebooking (and work, if necessary) gets done. For those without a computer, there is one computer inside at reception available for guests to use.

Valladolid, like much of the Yucatan, has excellent roads and the best way to explore is on bike. La Candelaria has eight very cool blue cruiser bikes lined up for rental which are new, in excellent shape and run the same price as the bike rental shops in town.

Stand Out Features

Free Breakfast
Although many hostels advertise ‘free breakfast’, this usually includes watery coffee and dry toast. La Candelaria prepares breakfast exactly how anyone who has been traveling a long time wants it to be but never gets it: Each morning, there are little plastic bowls of fruit, granola and yoghurt made for each guest and set covered in the kitchen. You take one, and then help yourself to one of the fresh big rolls with butter and jam and pour yourself a cup of strong, delicious coffee from a giant coffee maker which holds plenty for a refill or even two.

Not one, but two kitchens
La Candelaria has everything a traveler can ask for – including two, fully-equipped kitchens – one inside and one outside. There is enough room for many people to cook dinner at the same time, plus two refrigerators to hold everyone’s food and beer.  The outside kitchen even makes available basic ingredients like oil, sugar, salt, and spices so you don’t need to buy them yourself.

Room for improvement

We had to stretch to get these two ideas, as La Candelaria is nearly perfect: Hostels and hotels alike have issues with critters when they have spaces open to the elements. There is no way to avoid this in hot destinations like in Mexico, so at La Candelaria, just like countless other places, don’t leave your food out on the counter for long, lest it be invaded by ants and other creatures.

The bathrooms and showers are in the yard, so you have to walk through in your towel to shower. This might not be enough privacy for some guests, but it was honestly never an issue for us.

Overall

La Candelaria is exactly how a hostel should be: welcoming and inviting, great to hang out and meet other guests yet quiet enough at night to get great sleep. Breakfast is delish and bathrooms are clean. We enjoyed it so much, in fact, we stayed a second time for a few more relaxed days before heading to Belize last year.

The hostel offers the best value for money of all of the hostels we chose in Mexico. The private rooms cost less than every other accommodation choice we made in Mexico, and the hotel hostel easily had the best features of them all. La Candelaria is also a hotel near Chichen Itza, making it the perfect place to stay to get to the site early in the morning the next day.Many people stay in Cancun or Playa del Carmen and take the long bus trip over, but staying in Valladolid makes a trip to Chichen Itza easier, faster and more relaxed.

We are not the only ones who are big fans of La Candelaria – here are the overwhelmingly positive Tripadvisor reviews.

Location: Calle 35, at Parque Candelaria
Price:
M$250 (US$21) for a private room, M$100 (US$8.40) for a dorm – including breakfast
LGBT Friendly:
Yes
Amenities:
Two kitchens, high-speed wi-fi, hammocks, garden, lounge, TV, bicycle rental
Digital Nomad Friendly:
Yes, outside only
Website:
We haven’t found one, but we booked through hostelbookers.com

To book a hotel in Mexico, check Roomguide.co.uk for accommodation options throughout the country.

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