Only a few bed-and-breakfast lodgings dot the south and west sides of town. Here are two gems, however.
Start several blocks southeast of the zócalo with Posada de Chencho (4ta Privada de la Noria 115, tel./fax 951/514-0043, pchencho [at] prodigy [dot] net [dot] mx, www.mexonline.com/chencho.htm , $37 s, $58 d). Part of the attraction here is the spark-plug owner, Inocencio “Chencho” Velasco, a friendly Mixtec version of Santa Claus. Such a stream of visitors from all over the world stay at his place that he seems to know someone everywhere. Moreover, very well-informed, English-speaking Chencho is a treasury of information about Oaxaca, both local and statewide. His compound, 22 immaculate rooms in two stories, surrounds an inviting, green garden patio. The rooms themselves are comfortably and thoughtfully decorated, with Western-standard baths. Downstairs, guests enjoy a dining room and a big sitting room/library, besides patio nooks for reading and relaxing. Some rooms in the sun might get hot during the summer. If heat bothers you, be sure to select one in the shade, with a ceiling fan. If your room has no fan, ask Chencho to supply one. Rates include breakfast. Add $24 per person for all meals. Ask for a cheaper long-term rate. Get to Chencho’s by walking east, along Guerrero, from the southeast corner of the zócalo. After four blocks, at Xicotencatl (shee-koh-tayn-KAH-tuhl), turn right and continue another four blocks south to Calle La Noria; 4ta Privada de la Noria is one of the one-block streets to your left that run south from La Noria.
On the west edge of downtown, about 10 blocks due west of the zócalo, stands Casa Colonial (Calle Miguel Negrete 105, tel./fax 951/516-5280, toll-free U.S./Can. tel. 800/758-1697, oaxaca@casa-colonial, reservations [at] casa-colonial [dot] com, www.casa-colonial.com , $40–95). Personable owners Jane and Thornton Robison, who seem to know everyone in town, call their domain the “posada with no sign,” because they don’t advertise and only accept guests with reservations. Upon arrival, you immediately see why Casa Colonial is such a favorite among savvy visitors. Low-rise rooms and apartments enfold a spacious, gracefully lovely inner garden. Rooms vary from high-ceilinged, antique-decorated Victorians to smaller, one-person garden-side units. Besides the leisurely tropical ambience, guests enjoy the use of a spacious, refined but homey living room with a fine library and Internet connection. Room prices vary according to size and elegance; ten percent discount for cash. For information on their Casa Colonial Tours, visit their website.