Las Bugambilias

Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico Book from US$90

Reviewed by Lucia Appleby
Beautiful modern guesthouse decorated with arts and crafts in Oaxaca’s historic district
Staying at Las Bugambilias is like staying in a family home, decorated by someone with a lively eye for craft and colour. Silver wall hangings, cheerful folk paintings, bright textiles, religious icons covering everything from angels to skeletons - this is a crash course in the quirky beauty of Mexican art. Table settings for the communal breakfasts are exquisite, and changed daily; what doesn’t change is the interesting guests you’ll meet over your morning meal, many of whom return to Las Bugambilias every year - you’ll even see photos of them dotted around the walls.

The family-like atmosphere works so well because there’s a real family behind Las Bugambilias: the Cabreras. One sister runs the popular next-door restaurant, the wife of a brother is the efficient manager, and the matriarch behind the scenes tends to the medicinal garden with its blissful temazcal (traditional steam bath) treatments. And everyone contributes to the wonderful ambiance of authenticity and true Mexican hospitality.

Highs

  • Beautiful décor and furniture
  • Friendly family atmosphere
  • Delicious, healthy breakfasts
  • Temazcal treatments - soothing herbal steam baths - are available
  • The location is ideal: on a relatively quiet street, within easy walking distance of Oaxaca's Zócalo (main square), shops, restaurants and museums

Lows

  • No car parking
  • There’s a 2-night minimum stay
  • Some rooms are above the next-door restaurant and can get noisy

Best time to go

Come at any time of year - Oaxaca is blessed with a temperate climate all year round, though you might experience some rain between May and September.

Our top tips

Take time to look through the small trunk in reception - it's filled with shimmery scarves, hand-woven tunics and artisan silver jewellery collected by an American friend of the family. The items can be purchased if anything catches your eye.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 9
  • Breakfast (+ restaurant next door)
  • Over 2s welcome (restrictions apply)
  • 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
  • Concierge Service
Room: Bugambilias

Rooms

The spacious rooms are named after flowers (in keeping with the guesthouse’s focus on natural health and beauty), and are all beautifully decorated with distinctive colours. We stayed in vibrant pink Bugambilias; equally striking are Violeta, with its rainbow satin curtains, and the canary-yellow Magaritas.

The rooms are filled with atmospheric paintings by local artists and lots of traditional furniture, including elegant wooden armoirs, carved writing desks and pewter-framed mirrors. The enticing beds (kingsize or twin in all rooms except Orquideas and Camelias, which have queensize beds) are adorned with Oaxaca’s famous hand-woven cushions and bedcovers. Each room has a tiled ensuite bathroom, most are air-conditioned, and all but one (Camelias) have a balcony or private courtyard.

There’s also a suite, Girasoles (‘Sunflowers’), with 2 bedrooms (1 with a kingsize bed, the other with a double or twin beds) and a sitting area. It's located above the reception, separate to the main house, and is the best option for families.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Lavish breakfasts are served between 8 and 10am at a beautifully-set communal dining table in the main house - enjoy fruit platters, freshly squeezed juices, yoghurt, homemade granola, French pastries straight from the oven, and daily egg specials like black bean omelette. This is a good chance to exchange travel tales with fellow guests and get sight-seeing tips or restaurant recommendations.

Although no other meals are served at the hotel, one supper suggestion that’s bound to come up is the family-run restaurant next door, La Olla ('The Cooking Pot'). It’s well-known locally and takes pride in its gourmet presentations of Oaxacan cuisine - dishes include a range of organic salads and soups (like squash blossom), and tasty fish (the herb-wrapped red snapper and ‘devil’ shrimps in chilli sauce are winners). We jumped in feet first and ordered the Botana La Olla, a sharing plate of Oaxacan appetisers, including chicharrón (pork scratchings) and chapulines (grasshoppers) - both very crunchy!

When milder palettes prevail at lunchtime, the restaurant also offers whole-wheat sandwiches with fresh fruit on the side. Or you can stop in for an evening cocktail on the pretty roof terrace before trying one of the many excellent restaurants, cafés and market stands in Oaxaca's historic centre, all within walking distance of Las Bugambilias.

Don’t be shy about signing up for a cooking class with La Olla’s head chef, Pilar Cabrera (held in the kitchen of sister guesthouse La Casa de los Milagros. It’s a fun half-day of shopping (she’ll take you round the local market), chopping (you’ll be hands-on assembling the food) and, of course, cooking. Afterwards participants sit down for lunch and tuck into tamales and tortillas, plus delicious dishes made from Pilar’s original recipes (copies of which are available for you to keep).

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Cooking classes
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Learn the secrets of Oaxacan cuisine by joining one of Pilar Cabrera’s fun, and tasty, cooking classes (located off site)

  • Treat yourself to a revitalising temazcal (steam bath) treatment

  • Visit the famous Zapotec sites at nearby Monte Albán, Mitla and Yagul (the Cabreras can arrange tours)

  • Go shopping at one of Oaxaca’s famous handicrafts markets

  • Marvel at the pre-Hispanic treasures on display in the ‘Louvre of Oaxaca’ - the Museum of Oaxacan Culture - and learn about modern Mexican art movements at the Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Explore Oaxaca’s churches, including the 17th-century Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, and admire the frescoes in the grand 2-storey cloister of 16th-century former monastery Santo Domingo de Guzmán

  • Visit the mesmerising ‘frozen waterfalls’ (natural rock formations) at Hierve el Agua

  • Hire a car and tour the villages surrounding Oaxaca, stopping off to see the oldest tree in the Americas at Santa María del Tule

  • Mountain bike rentals and horse-riding can be arranged through a local agency

  • Depending on the time of year, you can join the family for local celebrations, including Day of the Dead (1-2 November), Noche de Rábanos (‘Night of Radishes', held in December), Christmas, Easter, and Guelaguetza (a dance festival held in July and the largest fiesta in Oaxaca)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Language courses
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Yoga

Kids

Children over 2 are welcome at Las Bugambilias - restrictions apply (enquire when booking). The best room for families is the Girasoles Suite, which has a second bedroom with the option of twin beds. It's above also reception (separate to the main hotel) meaning you don't have to worry about disturbing other guests. Extra cots and children's beds are available for a supplement.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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