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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.
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
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.
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.
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.