by Lydia Linton Pontius (Jan. 2010)
This was not my first time at this hotel. However, considering the circumstances that led up to our unexpected arrival, I thought it was well worth writing about. In the past I have stopped in Valladolid for meals and brought a small group to spend a couple of nights. I have always been pleased with everything about El Mesón del Marqués. This particular trip we did not have reservations, the hotel was not expecting us, and circumstances had three of us traveling alone at night needing a place to stay. All of us had stayed before so when we found ourselves without a place to stay, we immediately agreed this was where we needed to go. Most places holding a reservation are expecting you and treat you in a special way. This evening we showed up tired, weary and somewhat defeated and without question in need of a place to lay our heads.
Our spirits began to lift the minute we drove through the parking entrance and were greeted with big smiles and that special warmth that is the Yucatán way. We parked the car and dragged ourselves through the restaurant and up to the reservation desk to inquire about a vacancy. To our delight we were welcomed like long-lost family. There was a room in the back building that would be perfect for us. In addition they brought our bags to our rooms, got us extra towels, water and ice with an enthusiasm that had us all feeling happier by the moment.
The El Mesón del Marqués is a former mansion and began operation as a hotel in 1967. The main hotel is the hacienda-style building and the main courtyard has become their restaurant. In the back is an open-air bar and pool and a second building with additional rooms. The rooms are good sized, with nice bathrooms, and in the main building the doors are gorgeous heavy wood from another era. Each room has its own air conditioning unit and TV. Many in the main building also have small colonial balconies. It is like stepping back in time but with all the conveniences and special touches of modern day.
Staying here is not only like taking a step back in time but it is like exploring a museum. I can't help but wonder what it must have been like in the early years of Valladolid whenever I stay or come to eat. Being just steps from the main square, you can't ask for a better location.
Believe it or not, this is a great birding spot. Who would have thought that located in an old hacienda in the middle of a thriving city there is such a special place for those who choose to get up early, grab their binoculars and enjoy such fine-feathered creatures as they greet the day? The balcony levels surrounding the pool put you at eye level with the jeweled denizens flitting among the branches, giving you a good chance of figuring out their species.
Whether you are looking for a place to spend a few days or just passing through Valladolid, we highly recommend this gem of a place, a place you are only a stranger once.
If you can't spend any time here we still really recommend stopping for a meal. The restaurant has WiFi and I can't think of a lovelier setting to start your day and check your e-mail. The hacienda garden setting has a fountain in the middle and is adorned with local art and plants. No one rushes you here, so grab your computer and camera, or just sit and soak it all in. They have a large breakfast menu and even larger for lunch and dinner with a combination of international choices and local specialties.
I chose for breakfast eggs with longaniza, which is a locally prepared sausage, similar to chorizo. It was fabulous. My friends were equally impressed with their morning meals, one stating that the huevos Motuleños here was one of the best versions she had ever had.
Earlier in the week we had stopped here for lunch on our way to the Gulf Coast. The service, which is always warm and friendly, is even more delightful if you order the guacamole. There is no question how fresh it is because the waiter will prepare it in a traditional molcajete (mortar and pestle) right at your table. The soups are homemade and perfectly seasoned. The cochinita pibil is worth the trip; served with pickled onions and fresh tortillas it was a feast. But we couldn't stop there, not when they have some of the best local flan. We had to finish our meal with that and a cappuccino. Satiated and happy, we wandered the streets of Valladolid to walk off some of our meal and then happily headed on our way.
To learn more about this lovely hotel and restaurant visit their website.
Artwork from the ceiling
Candles and balcony