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Hotel Review: The Quinta Real Oaxaca

The first hotel your Guide stayed at after two years of pandemic lockdowns was the Hilton at the Mexico City airport. But that was a painful, stinky experience I’ve tried to block from my memory, so let’s agree that my first hotel experience following the pandemic was the Quinta Real Hotel in Oaxaca de Juarez. Part of the Camino Real group of hotels, the Quinta Real is located in the former 16th century Convent of Santa Catalina de Siena. Right in the center of Centro, it’s within short walking distance of all the cultural and gastronomic wonders of Oaxaca, and it’s just around the corner from the Ethnobotanical Gardens and the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

There are affiliate links in this post for the Quinta Real, because I would absolutely stay there again and recommend the experience to anyone. I paid for my stay and the hotel did not know I’d be sharing about it.

Staying at the Quinta Real Oaxaca is a quiet, relaxing dream of strolling through leafy courtyards and floating in the pool while flower petals twirled around empty loungers in the sun. 

The Quinta Real's restaurants

On the way Oaxaca, at the height of the Omicron wave, I was wrapped in a cocoon of protective gear (review of my Air Canada flight to Mexico here). I did the most minimal amount of eating, drinking, and breathing. So after making it to my room (more on that below), my first stop was the Bugambilias Bar just behind the lobby of the Quinta, around one of its lush interior courtyard gardens. The waiter asked what I’d like to drinka beer, wine, mezcal. I asked for mezcal. Oaxaca is the home of mezcal. A proper way to begin an adventure here. I assumed he’d bring back whatever the house mezcal was, but no… The waiter returned with a menu dedicated solely to mezcal, with over 50 options!

The depth of culinary culture is something I love about Oaxaca. It celebrates its food geekery. There’s an expectation you not only want 50+ options of one drink, but that you have the sophistication to select the right one. You’ll see this all over Oaxaca, like the neverías in Jardín Sócrates that each boast 100+ different flavors of shaved ice. 

Two glasses of clear mezcal sit beside slices of oranges on a plate with a pile of powdered chili pepper
A substantial pour of El Cortijo mezcal to start off the trip. I did not realize at the time that El Cortijo's mezcalaria is directly across the street from the Quinta Real.
A lush, manicured garden in an inner courtyard of the Quinta Real Oaxaca. Neatly trimmed shrubs and pottery line the edges of the garden, while tall trees stretch up above the walls of the hotel surrounding it.
The Quinta Real's bar shelters under the colonnade around a lush garden you can sit and enjoy for hours.

I find many luxury hotels exist in a bubble, ignoring the local culture. Not so with the Quinta Real. It embraces Oaxacan food culture and tries to connect guests with it. I enjoyed that every morning while I had hot chocolate for breakfast with my cricket omelet in the Refectorio restaurant beside the orange garden. 

The Quinta Real’s Refectorio restaurant is where you’ll have breakfast. There’s a substantial buffet on the weekends and it’s a la carte the rest of the week. Check out the Refectorio breakfast menu here. If you’re looking for a fine dining experience in the evening at the hotel, with a multi-course dinner by candlelight under paintings of saints, Refectorio is the place to go.

There’s also a pool bar / restaurant that serves snacks like quesadillas and taquitos.

The frothy bubbles of chocolate con agua at the Quinta Real's Refrectorio restaurant
A plate of taquitos, covered in crumbled cheese, with a pile green guacamole beside them, on a table beside a full pint of beer, beside the pool at the Quinta Real Hotel, Oaxaca

How are the rooms at the Quinta Real?

The Quinta Real has four room classes: Novicia, Superior, Gran Clase, Suite Gobernador. If you book well in advance through the hotel, room prices range from $200 USD per night to upwards of $400. I paid a discounted rate through the Preferred Hotels loyalty program. Expect prices to rise as tourism picks up in Oaxaca post-pandemic.

The Novicia was the most affordable room, but for a single business traveler, it had all of the amenities and space I could need. King-sized bed, window seat and table looking down on the street, a bathroom vanity with ample space. Lots of pillows, fluffy towels, plush bath robe, Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries, a coffee maker, a bowl of fresh fruit. The ceilings are lofty and the walls are solid stone. The room was cozy and quiet.

The other rooms seem to only be different in the amount of extra space, or whether you get a full desk and sofa.

Visit the Quinta Real’s website to see all of the rooms: The Quinta Real Oaxaca

The best pool in Oaxaca Centro

One of the reasons I had my eye on the Quinta Real was the pool. It does have a totally serviceable gym, but the pool is exceptional for downtown Oaxaca. The Quinta Real is the only hotel in Centro that has a pool you can actually swim in. It’s not massive, but it’ll do. The garden and building surrounding the pool are also beautiful, and the easiest way to access the pool is to walk through the choir gallery overlooking the convent’s chapel, now used for weddings and banquets.

I often had the Quinta Real's pool all to myself. Visit it in the morning for the best sunshine.

Pandemic protocols at the Quinta Real

I stayed at the Quinta Real Oaxaca in January of 2022 and pandemic protocols began at the entrance. Before entering an attendant took my temperature, and after that checked-out, they squeezed out hand-sanitizer for me before I proceeded to check-in. That procedure was consistent for everybody coming into the hotel for any reason.

There were hand-sanitizer stations throughout the hotel. Staff all wore masks. Guests were expected to wear masks in all common areas unless eating. The TV remote controller in the room was wrapped in plastic.

Is the Quinta Real good for remote work?

The internet worked great, in the rooms, throughout the restaurants, and in the gardens. I did several video calls with clients while I stayed there. 

If you’re looking for a coworking space, Selina Oaxaca is a five minute walk away, directly south, on the same street as the Quinta Real. 

But if you’re doing some work while staying at the Quinta Real, there is a very important detail I need to share with you…

Do not miss the Quinta Real's delicious turn-down service

I’m sharing this last so that you remember it above all. I was unaware of this, which led me to making egregious scheduling mistakes. I booked some meetings (with the excellent internet) from my room in the early evening. And that is something I should not have done. 

The Quinta Real has an excellent turn-down service. Not only do they make your room cozy in those cool evenings for when you return after a day of adventures, but they’ll leave you a sweet treat. Maybe hand-crafted Oaxacan chocolates, perhaps a fruit tart. And they’ll also leave you a bookmark specific to that day of the week. I still have all of my bookmarks (except the ones I missed because I was working in my room then!)

You can book a stay at the Quinta Real using here: The Quinta Real Oaxaca

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