Sometimes you stay in a place that leaves an impression. When you travel on a budget as we do, these places are few and far between. We’ve often remembered places for their supreme discomfort rather than the opposite, so as someone who has champagne taste on a beer budget (wink, wink), I’m always on the lookout for good value, comfy digs. If they have an extra touch, an attention to detail or a cute design, I’m happy as Larry (with a thought to all the unhappy Larrys out there – the pressure to live up must be unbearable).
So it was that we found ourselves setting up home at ‘Casa Soledad’ on the outskirts of Oaxaca City.
The owner, Martha, made it pretty clear in her description on Airbnb that the property was located in an outer suburb and not in the center of the city. But in the lead up to the Day of the Dead, we found many inner city hotels to be either full or overpriced, and since we had a car, we didn’t mind being out of town a little.
I breathed a sigh of relief as we entered the house – it was light, bright and beautifully designed. I immediately fell in love with the simple Mexican kitchen – I loved how open and practical it was while remaining the focal point of the house thanks to its colorful tile work.
All of the crockery and utensils were sourced from local artisans of the region and from other parts of Mexico. I loved that they were all displayed openly on shelves rather than hidden in a cupboard.
Other local artifacts, like black, red and green pottery and traditional chocolate spoons formed display pieces which added to the cultural richness of the home and made it feel like a live-in museum.
Even a truckload of ‘Zapatista’ dolls from the neighbouring state of Chiapas haunted us from the living room coffee table!
A wood-carved jaguar mask from the village of San Antonio Arrazola hung on the white-washed wall and a great variety of books on Mexican culture and cuisine lined shelves and graced surfaces.
Martha prepared the rooms with clean, crisp sheets and a small basket of soaps and body products for each person. It was thoughtful touches like that which made us feel welcomed and taken care of.
Martha’s home was located behind ‘ours’ on the same property, divided by a sunny terrace.
It was nice having her close by to ask questions about the city. As an anthropologist who has lived in Oaxaca off and on for over twenty years, her knowledge of the region was welcomed and valued. The organic coffee she picked up from the market for us was particularly appreciated, filling the entire apartment with its delicious aroma before it was even brewed.
We enjoyed popping next door to the local tienda for our fruit, vegetables and Pan de Muerte, and observing local life in the village of San Felipe del Agua.
It’s pretty obvious I fell in love with Casa Soledad, and for $80 per night (plus the Airbnb booking fee) for a two bedroom house with a kitchen, laundry, secure parking and a shower room with piping hot water (it gets chilly in Oaxaca city this time of year), I think it was a pretty good deal. Certainly well worth it for an enjoyable stay with a friendly, knowledgeable host who made our time in and around Oaxaca City even more memorable.
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Also, this is not a sponsored post about a free or discounted stay. We paid full price for our stay, but I wanted to share it with you because I think we got a great deal for a unique and special apartment You can book a stay at Casa Soledad on Airbnb here, which I think is great alternative to staying at a hotel, particularly for small groups and families.
Update: Martha hasn’t seen my blog yet, but I received an email from her the other day offering to buy us a kilo off the locally roasted coffee we loved so much, as she is visiting our neck of the woods this week. I can’t imagine a hotel ever delivering follow-up service like that!