Hidden jewel in the Mexico you'd hoped to see
Trip Start Aug 26, 2010
1Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Hotel Don Cenobio, Av. Juárez No.3 Centro, Mitla, Oaxaca, México C.P. 70430 TEL. 01 951 56 80330 FAX. 56 80050
The rooms, very clean and spacious, all have different hand-carved and painted beautiful and tasteful furniture from Michuocan. Mine was all calla lilies - on the headboard (great mattress!), roomy dresser/vanity and stool, bedside tables with storage, mirrors and table with two chairs. The rooms (I've peeked in many to admire the furniture) are not crowded or small. The ceilings are high, the fans modern, quiet and adjustable (the climate here is just right and the rooms are well insulated - no need for air conditioning, there's a roomy closet with ironing board, solid wooden doors and window coverings (on the street level, with balconies on the courtyard on upstairs rooms). The bathroom's clean and roomy with a hair dryer, the shower is large with lots of hot water. Floors throughout the hotel are brick-coloured tile
Covered indoor parking is provided in what also serves as a lovely convention/special occasion hall, so no worries about your vehicle. Not a lot of crime in Mitla.
Eating here is really nice and relaxing. The menu is very reasonable, well-rounded, the food is made on the premised from local (when possible) fresh produce and meats, very well-seasoned. There's a full bar, which also serves the local mezcal. You can eat on the covered patio by the pool, in the courtyard, in the cafeteria next door (same kitchen but you can watch the streets, plaza and traditional locals while eating), outside the front at iron bistro-style table - or have it sent to your room.
A lot of passion, love, thought and consideration for the guest went into everything that was done to this place by a well-traveled and warm couple who are the owners who are understandably proud of what they've built together, and is kept immaculate by attentive local staff-persons. It's been a great pleasure staying here, and a very unexpected treat in such a small town - or anywhere
Zapotec and other local indigenous people are in the majority here in Mitla, and are famous for their weaving and embroidery, as well as for other handcrafted wares. The town itself has buildings largely unchanged for well over 200 years. Down all the narrow streets from the plaza across from the hotel are small stores selling modern and traditional items. You can buy a tricycle, carved local furniture, a great meal with mole to die for or a cacao drink that's wonderful, ice cream, a hand-woven beautiful shawl, a bottle of mezcal, fresh fruits and vegetables, hammocks...it's a town of constant surprises.
Because the town hasn't been 'found' by North Americans (most of the tourists are European), this town is truly the traditional Mexico we all hope to get to experience instead of the resorts, the traffic, the commercialism, noise and nightclubs we increasingly find. I'm often the only tourist I see walking the streets. The locals have been very friendly and I feel very safe (I'm a woman solo traveler). This town and entire area is a photographer's dream - great opportunities everywhere and has incredible light, a dramatic sky, mountains..
Once here, there's really no need to drive. From the hotel, you can easily rent a mototaxi (motorcycle with covered passenger space for 3) that will take you up the hill to the ruins for $5 pesos. These ruins date back at least 2,000 years in parts, with a colonial 16th century church built atop the destroyed Zapotec temple. There are unique stone friezes along the intact pre-Columbian walls and a well-intact 'Palace of Columns' you can climb and explore - which is also increasingly rare. The same mototaxis will take you into the city of Oaxaca for about $14 pesos along a scenic route with small mezcal manufactories not far from Mitla. There you can shop, get money changed, see the church of Santo Domingo, the house of Benito Juarez, visit museums, enjoy some nightlife and fine cuisine, walk through the markets, then return to Mitla, old Mexico, and relax, away from the expense, tourist-jams, traffic, noise and heat of the city. From here, you can easily get to nearby mountain waterfalls and sightsee, go to other ruins and towns in the State of Oaxaca or book a bus tour for a day trip over overnight farther afield to Chiapas or the beaches.
I have fallen in love with this hotel and town and look forward to returning for many years. This is a place that deserves to be enjoyed often and well by more people who appreciate the unique atmosphere of Mitla. Just not too many people, I hope.