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