A Stay at Na Bolom in San Cristobal de las Casas exudes the hospitality you would expect staying at a friend’s for the weekend.
The actual house is the star of the experience, with butter yellow walls and enchanting patios throughout, it was once the home of explorer Frans Blom and his wife, photographer Gertrude Duby Blom. The two came to Chiapas in the 1940s, each for their own separate reasons, and ended up spending the rest of their lives studying and photographing the people of the nearby Laconda jungle together.
Six rooms that circle the central patio have collections of the artifacts they collected and their personal items including Trudy’s cameras and Frans’ ingenious army-green hammock with built-in mosquito netting. The library is gorgeous and a great place to curl up with a good book. The couple’s adopted daughter, Dona Betty still lives on the property and makes a daily appearance to chat with visitors.
The rooms are scattered throughout the main building and also in several separate cabins in the back garden. Each is warmly decorated with local textiles and crafts, worn wooden blankets to keep you warm on chilly nights and small fireplaces, all set and ready to light for a night by the fire. Expect a rustic experience — beds that are a little stiffer, furniture that has been made comfortable by years of use – but all with so much charm you’re likely not to mind.
The amenities are also basic – towels, shampoo, soap – but you don’t come to Na Bolom for a luxury spa experience, you come for coziness, conversation and a sense of home. There are no TVs to distract you and inside the property’s thick walls you will hear only the birds chirping and crickets humming in the evening. Take a walk through their back garden and you can tour some of the endemic plants that Frans and Trudy collected throughout their years in San Cristobal.
The restaurant serves a menu of traditional Mexican fare with some international options and there are lots of sunny corners to enjoy your morning cup of coffee. If you want even more solitude request one of the larger stand-alone cabins in the garden.
Make sure to ask to visit Trudy’s photo archive inside one of the garden buildings and take a tour of the house with their young historian Gregorio, who is a wealth of information, not just about the Bloms but about the surrounding indigenous communities as well, like San Juan Chamula.
The best part is that with the price of your stay (rooms are around 65usd with breakfast and taxes included) you help to support the many programs they offer for the communities they work with – an artist-in-residency program, medical
services, and accommodations when community members need to come into San Cristobal from their villages for extended periods of time.
The location is outside of downtown, but you are within a 10-minute walking to San Cristobal’s main shopping and eating areas. This slightly more-out-of-the-way hotel is great for travelers looking to escape the tourists and bustle of that part of the city.
Na Bolom not a extra-deluxe boutique hotel, but it’s not rough and tumble hostel either, it’s an elegant and well-preserved home great for peace and quiet if you want to work, but also a nice spot to meet other like-minded travelers. This is a place for travelers who want a genuine experience and service that is warm and welcoming, and I highly recommend it for a stay in San Cristobal, Chiapas.
Disclaimer: I was hosted by this hotel, but all opinions in this review are my own.