Hotel Casa de Sierra Azul in Oaxaca, Mexico is a former 19th century colonial home with a gorgeous courtyard in the heart of town — rooms can vary dramatically, so here's why I recommend the junior suite

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Casa De Sierra Azul 4x3
Krystin Arneson; Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

  • Looking for a wallet-friendly splurge for one night in Oaxaca, Mexico, I chose for its central location, beautiful architecture, and on-point rate.
  • is in the heart of Oaxaca's old town, steps from top museums, galleries, and the Zocalo, the city's central meeting point.  
  • The hotel feels luxurious but prices are quite affordable. Even standard rooms, with a traditional Oaxacan breakfast included, start as low as $125, while upgrades to mid-tier suites are only a fraction more. 
  • Read all Business Insider hotel reviews here.

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2020欧洲杯夺冠热门During a month-long exploration of Oaxaca, Mexico with my partner, I needed to fill a one-night gap in booking reservations between an Airbnb and a week-long stay in a rustic, eco-hotel on the beach. Even though it was only one night, I knew I wanted a respite from our more modest accommodations planned with a luxe shower and crisp sheets, and, hopefully, some Mezcal.

I had some strict filters: I wanted a boutique hotel with typical Oaxacan architecture, and a central location so we didn't feel like we were trekking out for the whole day when we left our room. I also prefer to spend my pesos on tacos over pillow menus and wanted a high-end stay but at a low price and strong value.

I settled on a mid-tier junior suite at , a former 19th century colonial home with a gorgeous central courtyard in the heart of town. The room cost $160, about $15 more than a standard one for $145. Prices do fluctuate during the year, however, and can dip as low as $125.

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门Suites come with large private patios on upper floors and a more modern look, while standard rooms on the first floor are original to the house and far more traditional in style. With such a small price difference, we decided to indulge for our one special night, planning to sip Mezcal on the terrace wrapped in hotel robes. 

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门It was a great decision. I plan to return and I've already recommended it to many other friends — here's why, and what I've told them.

Keep reading to see why I was so impressed by . 

1 Hotel Reviews Banner first impression
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entrance 2
Despite its location on a major street, the hotel is a quiet, calming oasis.
Casa de Sierra Azul

I spotted on a leafy street corner right away thanks to its eye-catching bright blue stucco walls that reference its name (azul means blue in Spanish). Despite being set off a main thoroughfare — and even with the front doors open — the hotel felt restful once I stepped over the threshold thanks to the immediate shade and the hush helped by thick, elaborately carved wooden doors. 

check in
The lobby is modern but small; expect crowds at peak check-in and check-out times.
Casa de Sierra Azul

's small reception space was just off the main doors, right before the courtyard area. It was strikingly modern with inset cubes showing off bottles of Mezcal.

When I checked in with my partner mid-morning, we knew we arrived well before our room was ready. It was peak check-out time and the area was quite cramped with suitcases and customers. We anticipated the delay, however, there was no bench in the larger entryway to wait on, and the courtyard's ample seating wasn't within eyesight of the front desk. A man speaking German-accented English was checking in with his family ahead of us and in the midst of an involved discussion with the receptionist. It made the 10-minute wait with nowhere to sit after walking in the hot sun feel a lot longer. 

Once it was our turn, the clerk gave me coupons that perked me right up; each room rate included Oaxacan breakfast in the shady central courtyard and a welcome copa of the hotel's own Mezcal.

A friendly porter helped bring our bags to the room. I usually skip this courtesy, but take them up on it here. The journey took us across the central cacti-lined courtyard, then up a flight of stone stairs that passed a secluded furnished patio, then up a shorter, narrower final set to the rooftop walkway lined by chic, modern room-units. Those with mobility issues should ask for a room on the ground floor.

Courtyard photo
The central courtyard is the star of the hotel.
Casa de Sierra Azul

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门My first impressions of the courtyard were spectacular. It was shady and restful, filled with people sharing a beer or catching up on work. It felt like an oasis of cool stone hidden away from the heat and main thoroughfare outside.

Scattered duos and trios of guests of all ages chatted on modern white patio furniture arranged around a central fountain. Cacti tendrils wrapped around the columns and leafy trees sprouted out of the ground. I looked closer and saw scraps of fresco-like art detailing the archways that formed a sort of covered, wooden-beamed colonnade around the seating area. It made me instantly excited to be staying here.

2 Hotel Reviews Banner The room
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Stairs to terrace level from courtyard
There are only 21 rooms, giving the space an intimate, boutique feel.
Casa de Sierra Azul

Of 's 21 rooms, there are standard Superior rooms with one or two beds, or the more modern junior suites with a terrace and one or two beds, which are located upstairs and were renovated in 2016.

Suites boast clean, Instagram-ready decor that stands in stark contrast with the historic charm of the property, and more traditional guest rooms on the lower level.

Junior suite
I stayed in a Junior Suite with a terrace and appreciated the modern decor and layout.
Casa de Sierra Azul

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门I booked a , and the first thing I noticed when the porter ushered me in was the platform bed lit from below that was covered in a thick duvet, crisp white bedding, and plump pillows, plus two throw pillows with traditional embroidery.

The room was modern and fresh-feeling, with rustic tile, wooden accents, an exposed ceiling beam, minimalist lighting, and cheerful pops of color on a statement wall behind the bed. It was painted spring green in my room, others are peacock blue. 

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门Although the suite didn't have a living area, there was a desk topped with fresh flowers, and enough room for my checked bag and carry-on, plus my partner's luggage. Inside a small wardrobe were two waffle robes and two pairs of slippers, a safe with enough room for passport and small tablets, a coffee maker and two cups, plus an iron and ironing board.

There was also an array of snacks to purchase, but confusingly in such a hot city, there was no minibar to store water, fruit, or other drinks. Free included Wi-Fi, however, proved to be strong both in the rooms and throughout the property.

I had no trouble falling asleep. There was no noise outside and I was able to set the (excellent) air conditioning unit to blast mode and sink gratefully into the mattress and fluffy pillows.

bathroom in suite
My open plan bathroom was spa-like, but not very private.
Casa de Sierra Azul

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门My bathroom was open plan with a long counter and raised sink that was open to the room. A walk-in shower was on one side of the sink with unusual (but stunning) matte tiles decorated with a graphic geometric motif of interweaving colorful lines. The suite's shower is admittedly a bit more tricked out than standard guest rooms and comes with far more space and a built-in stone bench. There were several nozzles placed at intermittent heights along with a rainfall head, which made me feel extra-clean after walking around in the sun, though the hot water took a few minutes to get going. Toiletries included shampoo and hydrating conditioner, plus the thoughtful addition of a natural loofah sponge. 

But one major design flaw was that on the other side of the sink, a partially-frosted glass door blocked off the toilet, but left significant gaps on top and bottom for no barrier for sound. My partner and I prefer a bit more privacy in the bathroom, so if one was in the WC, the other waited out on the patio. This situation became slightly annoying in the later hours when the mosquitoes came out.

View of the junior suite patio
My private patio was well worth the upgraded cost over a standard room.
Casa de Sierra Azul

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门Of course, the terrace was a true highlight and worth the extra $15. I happily sprawled outside on a lounger in my robe, doing a crossword and sipping the welcome Mezcal over an accompanying plate of orange slices dusted with chili salt. I also appreciated that the terrace was blocked from other guests' view by a tall wooden divider.

Guests who plan to spend a few siesta hours at the hotel, especially over a few nights' stay, should definitely consider the upgrade.

Suite style ground floor superior room, view 2
Standard rooms are more traditional in style and can vary dramatically in look and layout depending on the location assigned.
Casa de Sierra Azul

While my stay was in one of the new units, Superior rooms on the ground level are original to the house and date back to 1847. This means there is quite a bit of variation in terms of configurations, decor, and size — with a mixed bag of results.

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门Some are larger with higher arched or beamed ceilings, others are smaller without much natural light.

However, guests with mobility issues will want to book a room on this floor as there are no elevators. are available here too, though they're also billed as Superior rooms and have more traditional living areas instead of patios.  

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门But fair warning, if you've only seen photos of modern upper-level Junior Suites, the lower-level units may feel disappointing. Decor is far more traditional with wooden furniture and art is sparse, often traditional landscapes or decorated plates. The bathrooms are more closed off than the open-plan ones upstairs, with a large glass-enclosed walk-in shower, and bathroom counter space varies from practically none to fairly large. 

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门Overall, I'd choose the Junior Suite again, especially for a longer stay. For $15 more a night, the upgraded decor, consistent sizing, patio, and incredibly luxe shower were enough for me to forgive the WC door.

3 Hotel Reviews Banner On site amenities
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Central seating area with fountain
Amenities are a bit limited, but there is plenty of space to relax and gather, including a bar area.
Casa de Sierra Azul

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门 isn't packed with amenities — don't expect a gym or spa. The hotel is quiet during the day and early evening. A small bar counter on one side of the courtyard served my welcome Mezcal around 6 p.m., though I was the only one in the courtyard at that point. You may also order Oaxacan cuisine and the hotel's own Mezcal here, but it's not a dining destination, and service was closed when I came back from my off-site dinner around midnight in search of a nightcap.

2020欧洲杯夺冠热门The hotel does offer room service until close for those who don't feel like going out, however. 

Nighttime view of the courtyard
Breakfast is included in reservations and goes from early morning 'til noon, so, sleep in.
Casa de Sierra Azul

Breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. to noon in the courtyard restaurant Corazon Oaxaquen, and the hushed setting and trickle of the fountain make for a serene start to the day. The generous end time means you can sleep in without fear of missing a meal.

I came down around 8:30 a.m. and worked for several hours before ordering breakfast without feeling the least bit rushed. There were plenty of seats, and I even nabbed one with a power outlet.

The included set meals include traditional Oaxacan enchiladas covered in rich mole, as well as more traditional American options with eggs and toast. Some great a la carte options are available too.

However, the language on the menu differs from the language on the coupon when it outlines your breakfast options, so double-check if you have questions — a hot chocolate I thought was substituted for the coffee wound up being included on my bill.

4 Hotel Reviews Banner What's nearby
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2020欧洲杯夺冠热门Located in the heart of central Oaxaca, the hotel is located within walkable distance of the city's top sights, shopping, dining, and museums. I loved that I could leave for an hour or two and easily pop back to drop off shopping or take a siesta.

The is across the street and is worthy of a stop. The free museum features a fascinating look at the region's famed history and craftsmanship with textiles and embroidery (just keep in mind there's little English-language materials), with a great photography-related rotating exhibition at the time of my visit, too.

A couple blocks further on, I hit the Zócalo, the city's main square, where I watched buskers perform and ate freshly grilled elote.

I also came back full from pozole and tostadas at the unpretentious , followed by a little more Mezcal in the beautiful bar of near ,

, where I went not once but twice to sample their famous traditional Oaxacan moles, is less than a 10-minute walk north. Like the rest of Oaxaca's tourist center, everything feels very safe, even at night. 

5 Hotel Reviews Banner What others say
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is a little off the tourist track, despite its central location, with just 220 reviews. However, it's currently ranked 27 of the city's 141 properties with consistent four-star ratings. 

Most reviews compliment the courtyard and beautiful breakfast and highlight the central location. However, some guests complained that the room they booked was different than the one they actually checked into, which is understandably frustrating as there's such a big difference in style between the Junior Suites on the terrace and ones found below. Some of the confusion is likely due to the fact that some websites, like , have no photos of the new rooms. 

Others also mentioned that rooms on the ground floor can be noisy as they open directly onto the courtyard. Like me, several guests in a variety of room types also reported issues getting hot water quickly in the shower. Some reported confusion at breakfast, too. Although the Oaxacan option felt on the rich and hearty side, the American option is a bit more meager with toast, fruit, orange juice, and coffee. 

6 Hotel Reviews Banner What you need to know
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Who stays here: A range of business types from Mexico City to families from Europe, and thirty-something couples on vacation, as well as groups of older women from North America. It's a true mix.

We like: The included Oaxacan breakfast in the beautiful, shady courtyard.  

We love (don't miss this feature!): The central location makes it easy to see everything Oaxaca has to offer to rooms that feel like a true respite (so long as you book a top floor Junior Suite). 

We think you should know: The new, modern Junior Suite rooms are on the top floor. The ground-floor rooms are original but look little dated, which might disappoint some who have only seen photos of the more modern rooms.

We'd do this differently next time: I made what I thought was a substitution at breakfast (hot chocolate for coffee) and wound up being charged for it. It wasn't a big deal — and most likely due to me trying to speak Spanish 10 minutes after waking up — but next time I'll be sure to clarify what's winding up on the bill before I place my order. 

7 Hotel Reviews Banner Bottom Line
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2020欧洲杯夺冠热门 is a wallet-friendly historic boutique property in the center of town. Rooms are split between 19th century originals and modern suites, with decadent beds, spa-like showers, spacious square footage, and outdoor space. The latter is a solid choice, given the older feel of standard rooms, which vary dramatically in style and tone from room to room.

The heart of the hotel, the central courtyard practically defines urban oasis, with its columned arcade, gentle fountain, and verdant cacti crawling up columns.

With rates that start around $125 to $140 for standard rooms and only a fraction more for suites, this quiet boutique hotel is a hidden secret in the center of the city. And you're all the luckier if you can score a deal on an upgraded suite with a patio.  





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