Casa Na Bolom

San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico Book from

Reviewed by Lucia Appleby
Guestrooms in a fascinating cultural foundation and museum, set up to protect the Lacandon people
Staying at the Casa Na Bolom museum is guaranteed to enhance your visit to San Cristóbal. Founded in 1951 by archaeologist Frans Blom and photographer and conservationist Trudy Blom, the house has become a cultural centre for studies into indigenous cultures and the conservation of the Lacandon Jungle and its people.

Volunteers run the house and continue the Bloms’ work (money from guests goes towards various community projects in the jungle), and tours of the museum are included in the price of your stay. Throughout the house you’ll see photos taken by Trudy Blom chronicling her explorations and excavation work. Rooms are characterful, with antique wooden furniture and multi-coloured textiles. You can talk to members of the Lacandon villages (if they’re in town), attend one of the regular candle-lit piano concerts in the museum’s small chapel, or simply swap stories with other enthusiastic guests over delicious communal meals. Afterwards, cosy up before bed in front of your own fireplace.

Highs

  • Money from guests directly benefits the Lacandon people
  • You get a free guided tour around the museum - an architecturally and culturally fascinating building with many artefacts
  • Lying in bed, warm and cosy from your open fire
  • There are fascinating trips to the local villages, where you'll visit markets, dress up in traditional Mayan clothes and try the local hooch

Lows

  • Non-central location, about 7 blocks from the Zócalo (main sqaure)
  • Rooms have no central heating and can feel damp and chilly in the mornings
  • You’re not staying in a boutique hotel but a museum, so be prepared for people wandering about the courtyards
  • No safe boxes in the rooms, although you can leave valuables in the reception/office

Best time to go

San Cristóbal and the surrounding highlands have a temperate climate, and daytime temperatures generally remain warm all year round. Nights can be pleasantly cool in summer (June-October), but in the winter you’ll be glad there are blankets and fires in the rooms. Nestling in front of an open log fire can be very romantic - just bear in mind the nightly drop in temperature when you book your trip.

Our top tips

If you can, take a guided tour of the mountain village of Chamula on special religious days. The indigenous villagers use the Catholic cathedral but their ceremonies and rituals (from chicken sacrifices to drinking posh, the region’s firewater) are fascinating. Visitors are allowed to watch, although no photos are permitted.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 16
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • Over 2s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Casa Na Bolom has 16 guestrooms, which are all named after various towns in the state of Chiapas and decorated accordingly. They’re basic but authentic, with interesting reading material, old photographs, spotless bathrooms, fresh drinking water and antique wooden furniture.

We stayed in a (slightly dark) Standard Room just off one of 2 pretty courtyards filled with flower pots. The wall hangings and bedspreads were made from the typical blue-coloured textiles of the town of Mictonic; beside us was San Bartolme, which had similar woven furnishings in red.

Other rooms are closer to the herb garden (look out for the thatched 'spiritual altar', used for healing ceremonies and purification rituals conducted by Lacandon shamans). A couple of the larger Premier Rooms (La Cueva and Jacate) are on the first level - these are brighter, with views over the yellow courtyards.

All rooms have hearty fireplaces - useful, as temperatures can drop suddenly here. We felt a bit nervous about starting a fire, but kindling and pitch sticks are already arranged so they’re easy to light. It made our room beautifully cosy and our nights at Na Bolom far less chilly.

Features include:

  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • WiFi

Eating

The flavoursome homemade bread, granola and marmalade are the highlights of Na Bolom’s breakfast, served at one of the round tables in the museum’s courtyard. You can also have eggs done a number of ways - try them Frans Blom style, with red and green salsa.

A communal dinner is dished up daily in the vast dining room, which has an extremely long table and various paintings, tapestries and pieces of artwork (including carved wooden jaguars) that have been donated by guests over the years. The furniture, including the locally-made leather-backed wooden chairs, dates from the 60s and you can still see the Bloms’ personal touch around the room - for example in the overhead lamp shades made out of their old hats.

Most of the organic ingredients used in the 3-course meals come straight from the garden (from squash and cabbage to fennel and sage). We started with a tasty carrot soup, then moved on to salad, green rice and chicken brochettes - all placed on the table in healthy-sized platters. We were joined by a lively Danish tour group, who pitched in passing out plentiful second helpings.

Lunch is available at the museum but most guests are out exploring the town during the day. We chanced upon a sweet little place nearby, Dona Chayito, with a lasagne-like dish called Pastel Azteca that was simply delicious. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafés and market stands around San Cristóbal’s Zócalo.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the museum and gain an insight into the Bloms’ work with the Lacandon people

  • Join a tour of one of the conservation projects in the Lacandon Jungle

  • Attend a candle-lit piano recital in the museum’s chapel (held on Wednesday and Friday evenings and Sunday afternoon)

  • Take a guided tour of mountain villages, where you’ll visit indigenous churches and homes

  • Take a walking tour of San Cristóbal and its fascinating markets

  • If they’re in town, join members of the Lacandon people over a communal meal and find out about their history and local conservation issues

  • Arrange a spiritual cleansing with a shaman

  • Buy beautiful handicrafts, including hand-woven blankets and bags, from the smiling village elders in the museum courtyards

  • Visit the stunning Sumidero Canyon nearby. The canyon holds important cultural significance for local people and is home to many species of wildlife, including crocodiles

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

Children over the age of 2 are welcome.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Some Standard Rooms have space for up to 3 adults.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Kid Friendly:

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