As soon as I walk through the vast doorway of the Quinta Real Oaxaca, I know I have arrived somewhere special. History seeps from every well-preserved brick of this building.
Built in 1576, the convent of Santa Catalina de Siena in the heart of Oaxaca was converted into a hotel in the 1970s. Now part of the family-owned Quinta Real chain and the Preferred Hotel Group, it remains one of the city’s more upscale options with 91-rooms that retain an authentic Mexican feel while delivering modern boutique touches, right in the city’s historic centre – a UNESCO world heritage site.
The low key reception area doesn’t intrude on the surroundings, discreetly welcoming guests. It is unclear if the men lurking around the doorway are security or doormen, but either way, they are extremely courteous and provide me with a number of useful tips on where to eat.
Beautifully restored, the property is authentic and yet extremely comfortable. Courtyards filled with bright pink flowers, and atmospheric lighting in the evenings give the hotel a homely touch with plenty of nooks and crannies filled with interesting historical items and frescoes. Despite its location bang in the centre of town, it offers a quiet and cool oasis for weary travellers.
A mix of cool stone and dark timber, the spacious rooms are atmospheric and yet extremely comfortable. The gigantic bed is a particular highlight as is the small courtyard to the rear of the room with a small seating area. However, be warned that on the other side of the hotel is a school and the screams of small children at playtime can float across the divide.
Small touches make all the difference and tiny gifts left in the room each night at turndown are far more imaginative than a boring mint on the pillow – try chocolate covered strawberries or a traditional carved wooden pot. The front desk staff are knowledgeable and extremely helpful, going above and beyond to help me arrange sightseeing, my next flight and to ensure I am well fed.
The facilities here are low-key, in keeping with the boutique feel. There is however a swimming pool to help you cool off after a long day of sightseeing, and a restaurant which serves up an impressively extensive and imaginative breakfast menu. WiFi is available, but comes at a price.
The Quinta Real’s location right by Plaza Santo Domingo is, frankly, unbeatable. It’s within walking distance of all the main attractions in an extremely safe part of town that is packed with restaurants and bars – ideal for first-timers to this fascinating city, or for those that simply want to soak in Oaxaca’s quirkily unique vibe.