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Casa Cid de León — Oaxaca

Av Morelos No. 602, Centro Histórico

Hidden behind an unassuming entryway, among the ancient adobes that form the heart of Spanish colonial Oaxaca, is this exclusive upscale boutique hotel.

The rather cramped lobby of this boutique hotel also provides an inauspicious welcome after the simple entrance, but worry not. Like the rest of this unique luxury property, service is warm and professional, despite the less–than–palatial introduction. After check-in, your hostess will accompany you on a tour of the family mansion, beginning with the massive spiral stone staircase that conveys a more suitably grand entrance.

Casa Cid de León offers only four suites, among the largest in the city, each possessed of its own individual ambiance. All are at once romantic and homey, evoking images of Oaxaca's patrician past while offering all the modern amenities, including air conditioning, Wi–Fi, Jacuzzi tubs, gas fireplaces, and wide–screen televisions. Thoughtful details, such as towels and bathrobes wrapped with silk ribbons, bouquets of fresh flowers, and baskets of fruit invite you to feel both pampered and right at home.

The two ground–floor suites are more intimate. The Dominica is decorated in subdued earth tones and a more classic Oaxacan style. Elaborately hand–carved furnishings and woodwork, subdued Spanish religious statues, and original modern art all compliment the archways and glazed ceramic tile. Best of all, it opens onto a lush interior garden, with a tiny waterfall that fills the entire suite with its relaxing refrain.

The Aránjuez suite, its high ceilings supported with dark wooden vigas, is steeped in soothing greens, rich velveteen fabrics and soft light. The artwork and interior frescos reflect a garden theme, accented by wrought-iron work that imitates the curving tendrils of living vines. Stone columns, large velveteen sofas, and beautifully tiled floors complete an elegant ensemble.

Families could book the two–story Mio Cid, the largest suite, once shared by the four Cid de León sons. It sleeps five comfortably, with separate bathrooms, televisions, and sitting areas, all connected by a rustic wooden staircase that may dissuade families with toddlers. A more casual luxury permeates this sprawling suite, its pale color schemes accented with colorful original art, hand-woven bedspreads and very comfortable furnishings.

The best room in the hotel, and arguably the city, is la Bella Época. The home's original architects took full advantage of the sweeping suite's second–floor location with three delightful balconies, perfect for enjoying the street scene below. Light streams through large windows across the unabashedly opulent furnishings, all designed to recreate the turn of the 19th century.

Muted pastel greens and rococo accents are enhanced with the exquisite furniture of that extravagant era, arranged around a crackling gas fireplace. The aristocratic ambiance is embellished with all manner of adornments, shelves and display cases filled with candles, dolls, stuffed animals, angels and other mementoes of those bygone days.

It's worth mentioning that the hotel's décor, which prominently features the owners' treasure trove of tchotchkes displayed throughout the suites, may not be for everyone. I loved the distinctly feminine, almost frilly, charm, as well as the richly textured baroque materials, the onyx, glass, ornate fabrics, and brass. Others might think it's all a bit over the top.

Everyone, however, will agree that the hearty Oaxacan breakfasts, served in the rooftop terrace garden, are a definite highlight of any stay. The towering domes of neighboring Carmen Bajo Temple provide a dramatic backdrop, and views to the mountains are outstanding. Thanks to the listing wooden shade, comfortable chairs and overgrown plants, you could spend the day here, taking cool drinks from the bar. The hotel also provides room service throughout the day.

Other services on offer include complimentary airport transfer, a private office, and a tour desk providing personalized attention to your every whim. Of course, this small boutique hotel can't offer the same level of service that a massive five'star resort can manage, but the staff's excellent, personalized attention wins raves from guests, who all plan to return. And after a long day exploring Oaxaca's incredible cultural attractions, the many museums, restaurants and shops just steps from Casa Cid de León, you'll also be looking forward to returning to own private paradise, hidden behind simple adobe walls.

Web Address: Casa Cid de León
Total Number of Rooms: 4
Published rates: Rooms $200 to $230 BB

Review and photos by Paige R. Penland

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