Oaxaca City offers several recommendable hostel-style lodgings: Cheapest of all, and also closest in, is artsy-scruffy Plata Gelatina (501 Independencia, tel. 951/514-9391, platagelatina [at] hotmail [dot] com, leviatano [at] hotmail [dot] com, dorms $7 per person, rooms $18 d), just a block west of the zócalo. The location, right in the middle of the downtown action, is the major advantage of Plata Gelatina (Gelatin Plate), so named by the photographer-owner, whose black-and-white gelatin silver plate prints decorate the reception. Upstairs, two dorms—one mixed 10-bed and one female seven-bed—and four stuffy rooms with shared baths provide the lodging options. A pizza oven at street level downstairs also cooks at least one of the rooms upstairs. The bathroom-shower room is decently clean, but is small and probably crowded during times of high occupancy.
Another cheap but decent and relatively close-in choice, two blocks east and five blocks south of the zócalo’s southeast corner, is Hostal Chacahua (Fiallo 803, tel. 951/516-9057, dorms $8 per person, rooms $20 d). This small, clean but bare-bones lodging house in a solid working-class neighborhood offers dorm beds and private rooms.
For more amenities, check out a pair of hostels in the picturesque Los Arquitos neighborhood on the far northwest side of downtown, two blocks west and nine blocks north (15 minutes) from the zócalo’s northwest corner. There you’ll find Hostal Pochón (Calle del Carmen 102, tel. 951/516-1322, hostalpochon [at] yahoo [dot] com, www.hostalpochon.com, dorms $9 per person, rooms $23 d). Owners offer lodging for about 28 guests in six separate four-person dorms and one double room with shared bath.
In the same northwest neighborhood is the very worthy Hostal Don Mario (Cosijopi 219, tel./fax 951/514-2012, hostaldonmario [at] hotmail [dot] com, www.posadadonmario.com, dorms $10 per person, rooms with shared bath $15 s, $20 d, $30 t, rooms with private bath $25 s or d), on a quiet side street. Hardworking owner Norma Moran offers ten rooms and a dormitory, tucked around an intimate downstairs patio and an airy upstairs porch, furnished with comfy chairs and couches for reading and relaxing. Breakfast runs $2–4.
The first choice hostel by far is the beautifully restored Paulina Youth Hostel (V. Trujano 321, tel. 951/516-2005, reservations [at] paulinahostel [dot] com, www.paulinahostel.com, dorms $14 per person, rooms $28 s, $30 d, $45 t, $60 q), just three blocks west of the zócalo. Here, owners have created the best of all possible hosteling worlds, with a good cafeteria and inviting, spacious common areas, all within attractive garden grounds. The comfortable, squeaky-clean rooming options include separate male and female dorms and private rooms with shower-baths, all with comfortable orthopedic mattresses, roof terrace, hot water, and hearty breakfast thrown in for free. Get your reservations in early.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition