Oaxaca, Mexico has built a tourism boom around its special holidays, so choose early and choose well if you're taking the kids.
When you’re thinking about visiting such an interesting city as Oaxaca, where tourism is driven by special events and festivals, it pays to choose a hotel early and plan ahead for the most convenient room. Here is a list of lodging ideas in the charmingly compact town.
Hotels, Inns and B&Bs
Camino Real Oaxaca
Cinco de Mayo 300, Oaxaca 68000
800/901-2300; 52/951/6-0611; Fax: 52/951/6-0732
This lushly-decorated, full service hotel is the most unique property in the luxury Camino Real chain. Formerly the Santa Catalina convent built in 1576, it’s our pick for a special family experience because of its perfect location in a quiet, architecturally-pristine neighborhood (about 5 minutes on foot from the Zocalo). Manicured gardens, restored tile work, the traditional Los Lavaderos ablution fountain where tiny hands now play, the generous buffet, mariachis serenading from the central courtyard all add to the rich cultural experience. There’s a small pool near the bar that is fun for kids but not big or private enough. Also, the hotel’s relative formality (and the generally older, well-to-do crowd) may mean you won’t talk to any of your neighbors. But it’s a gorgeous place and a must-see site on any visit.
Lomas del Fortin 1
Apartado Postal 248, Oaxaca 68070
52/951/515-2633; Fax: 52/951/515-2411
Atop FortÃn Hill off the road to the Planetarium, on the NW edge of town. Free shuttle bus service into the ZÃ³calo, about a ½ hour walk. Newly built, modern but attractive, the Victoria offers good service, a heated pool with terraced sundeck area, tennis, and simple but well-kept accommodations in 59 standard rooms sleeping 2, 34 villas and 56 junior suites sleeping 3 or 4. There’s also a disco, travel agency and some shops within this 15-acre miniresort. A relaxing alternative to downtown. Kids< 12 stay free in parents room.
Holiday Inn Oaxaca
Diaz Quintas 115 Col. Centro, Oaxaca 68000
Av. Jalisco 15
52/951/512-9200; Fax: 52/951/5129292
Just a few blocks from the Zocalo, this peach stucco colonial exterior masks a convenient Holiday Inn with all the mod-cons, including iron, TV, and coffeemaker in the room, and Internet access. Though 100 functional rooms and 15 suites are designed to sleep 3, some have a pull-out sofa for families and adjoining rooms are available. There’s a small swimming pool and sundeck.
Fiesta Inn Oaxaca
Av Universidad 140, Oaxaca
951/516-1122, 800/FIESTA-1; Fax: 951/514-7921
Towers over a pleasant new neighborhood at the southeast end of town, a short taxi ride from the Zocalo. The Fiesta Inn is a modern but architecturally undistinguished highrise with a swimming pool and open-air sundeck. Clean with friendly staff and some services.
Hacienda de la Noria
Av. Eduardo Mata 1918, Oaxaca, 68120
52/951/514-7555; Fax 52/951/516-5347
This large ranch-style “motel” is located on the heavily-trafficked ring road that circles the city, though it’s only about a 15 minute walk from the Zocalo. The location was noisy and pretty ugly, but the enclosing fence, full restaurant and pretty heated swimming pool made the guests we met feel happy to be there. It’s a big choice of travel agents and handles bus tours, but it is well run, quite clean, and surprisingly comfortable. Count on taking taxis around town.
Posadas & Hostals
Oaxaca’s other notable accommodations are the small, family-owned posadas (lodges) or hostals (inns) scattered around the city. Expect stucco walls; Mexican decorative accents such as throw rugs or wood carvings; ceiling fans; small, neat rooms (some with three single beds) with windows overlooking a planted courtyard; private tiled bathrooms with showers; excellent hearty Mexican or American breakfasts and a truly welcoming and helpful staff.
Posada de Chencho
4a Priv. de la Noria 115
We stayed with Snr. Inocencio Velasco and his family at this small inn, whose 18 rooms are built on two levels around a planted courtyard. Though simple, everything had style. Small rooms easily accommodated three wood frame beds draped with woven bedspreads and some carved wood furniture and decorative figurines. Larger families can request adjoining rooms; the complex felt so safe that many guests slept with their room doors open. The unfinished roof was for sunbathing or drying laundry; the courtyard’s wrought iron tables were for playing or cocktails, the pretty breakfast room was for the seriously delicious, made-to-order Mexican or American breakfast included in room rates. The downside is the posada’s location in an ordinary neighborhood about a 10-15 minute walk from the Zocalo. This can be tough with little ones, and some holiday nights a taxi was impossible to come by. The upside: the families we met contributed enormously to our visit and our hosts made us feel part of their culture.
Garcia Vigil 306, Oaxaca 68000
52/951/516-5544; Fax: 52/951/516-7232
Excellent location within a block of fine tourist restaurants and galleries and near to the Zocalo. FTF members with pre-schoolers claimed “it was so easy to walk everywhere.” A traditional colonial hostal, it also has a small pool, TV, and phones in the rooms. Some ground floor rooms open out to the pool area, but the second or third floor rooms with balconies overlooking the city are even lovlier and offer more privacy. Rates are a bit higher but well worthwhile here.
Hostal de la Noria
Av. Hidalgo 918. Centro 68000
52/951/514 7844; Fax 52/951/516 3992
Excellent location a few blocks east of the Zocalo. This attractive, pastel-washed stucco colonial home beckons all into a tranquil courtyard, remarkably quiet when there’s so much activity outside the thick walls. Simple and pleasant rooms open off a two-story colonnade that surrounds the central courtyard/cafe. This is a full service hostal, with 50 rooms and a few suites, TV, telephone and ceiling fans.
MarquÃ©s del Valle
Portal de Claveria s/n, Oaxaca 68000
52/951/514-0688; Fax: 52/951/516-9961
An old hotel that overlooks the Zocalo. If you can get a balconied room facing the square, you’ll never have to go down to the sidewalk during festival season (all Oaxaca’s festivals are centered around the main Zocalo or town square.) However, you can’t count on getting to sleep (or putting kids to bed) before midnight. More a moderate-priced hotel than a posada, the MarquÃ©s’ 95 simple rooms, many facing a pleasant interior courtyard, are being renovated. Marita Adair, the ‘Frommer’s Mexico’ author, claims its cafe serves the best coffee in town, but we could never get a table.
Av. Independencia 601, Oaxaca 68000
52/951/516-7227; Fax: 52/951/516-3672
Located a few blocks from the Zocalo, directly across the busy street from the main post office, this small pretty hostal is surprisingly quiet. Walls are sponge-painted rust and blue, giving its pleasant courtyard cafe and very simple rooms a lot of style. Rooms have a TV and small, tiled shower.
Tinoco y Palacios 411, Oaxaca 68000
52/951/514-3298; Fax: 52/951/514-2126
In a quiet residential neighborhood about a 10 minute walk from the Zocalo. The ever-popular “Swallows” is built around a courtyard with simply landscaped grounds, tree-shaded patios, and many play areas tucked in and around the 24 ground-floor rooms. The friendly staff take good care of the simple facilities and serve a terrific breakfast.
Aldama 325, Oaxaca 68000
Similar in flavor to Las Golondrinas, but newer. Setting not as landscaped, but rooms are protected from street noise.
Hotel Villa d’ Leon
Reforma 405, Oaxaca 68000
52/951/516-1958; Fax: 52/951/516-1977
Set in the city’s historic core, not far from the Camino Real, this is another restored colonial house, with 29 guest rooms, which was recommended, but not inspected by us.
Furnished Apartments & Rooms to Let
These are really geared more for the long term visitor and tend to be on the city fringes or on the more recently developed outskirts.
Contact the Oaxaca City Ministry of Tourism Development (52/951/516-0717) for current information.
The local Oaxaca State Tourism Office, located on Independencia 607 (52/951/511-5040; fax 52/951/516-0984) is helpful.
(yu’u means house in Zapotec). In nine villages near Oaxaca city, several houses in the traditional Mexican-Indian style, with adjoining campgrounds, have been established to promote ecotourism in the state of Oaxaca. Self-contained units with cooking facilities are inexpensive, and can also be booked through the Oaxaca State Tourism Office.
Helpful Tips for Booking Oaxaca Hotels
In Oaxaca, lodging rates vary quite widely. For example, deluxe accommodations at the centrally located Camino Real (see above) will cost in the US$225-$275 range for a room sleeping four to a Jr. Suite with a separate bedroom and living area.
Country Inns on the outskirts of town (less convenient for families, but more rural and with outdoor pools which come in handy during summer) offer rates from US$60-125/N.
Charming posadas and hostals such as those described here, average US$50-$70 for two, including breakfast. Some charge an extra $15/day for children above 12 years. Remember, Christmas and Easter are Oaxaca’s high season, so call and book rooms (and mail them a deposit) several months ahead. Conversely, there are great bargains to be had in the summer and new pensions opening daily, so you may be in luck.
As of 2009, the town had 3,000 beds to offer, but they fill up surprisingly fast. If none of these work out, visit the Tourist Office site at www.oaxaca.travel and look for other options.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.