“Stylish hotel with a pool and excellent cuisine in the heart of Oaxaca - Mexico's artistic centre”
There are only 7 rooms at Casa Oaxaca, so the hotel has an air of exclusivity. The Master Suite is on the upper level, with a private staircase and terrace; the Large Junior Suite is spread over 2 floors, with a bougainvillea-filled garden that faces the pool. We stayed in one of the 3 Doubles in the main house - these, and the slightly larger Junior Suite, are elegant limestone-walled rooms with lofty ceilings that lead onto a pretty patio of pomegranate and sapote trees. There’s also a Small Double available for single travellers.
Decorated with eye-catching pieces by local artists - including wooden hand-painted bedsteads, and Oaxaca’s surreal fantasy creatures and famous tin animals (an owl in ours) - all rooms have satellite TVs, phones, ensuite shower bathrooms with stone tiled floors, and a separate area with a desk and chair. They also have WiFi, though we found this worked best just outside our room, at a wrought-iron table set at the edge of the courtyard with its tinkling fountain and pots of flowering cacti.
Casa Oaxaca’s restaurant is split across 2 locations, with a dining area at the hotel serving breakfast and dinner (from 6-9pm, reservations only), and another a 10-minute walk away in the historical centre, next to the cathedral.
Both serve excellent nouvelle Mexican cuisine (the first places in town to do so), with similar - but not identical - menus. They share a head chef - the charismatic Alejandro Ruíz, who makes regular trips to Europe to study wine and gastronomy and who has personally trained the kitchen staff, who all come from his home village north of Oaxaca. Ingredients used in both kitchens are fresh and organic: fish is brought up daily from Puerto Angel on the Pacific coast (6 hours away), and fruit and vegetables are bought from local markets every morning before the cockerel crows.
We ate dinner at the hotel in the central courtyard. Service was professional and personable - chef Luis Arellano came by our table to chat and explain the ideas behind his signature dishes, which include a mouthwatering seabass ceviche with passion fruit nectar and wild turkey breast with mole.
If you want to eat out there are plenty of other restaurants, cafés and market stands in Oaxaca. Try La Biznaga just down the road for delicious sopa sec (a casserole-like dish made with rice or noodles), and keep an eye out for the tasty pizza-like speciality of Oaxaca called tlayuda - at the open kitchen at Tlayudas Arely Huatulco they're made with blue-corn tortillas in a wood-fired oven.