Cocooned by fields of shimmering yellow corn and blue agave, the Mexican state capital of Oaxaca is the quintessential food destination. Surprisingly tiny and strangely peaceful, this is a city whose energy buzzes through its bustling open-air and indoor markets, which flood the heart of its historic centre. There, stores line sun-soaked streets selling glittery dresses and diamante thongs, taquerias with queues round the block hulk on street corners and the narrow pavements are inevitably lined with overflowing fruit and snack carts. Vans sail past precariously, and gas trucks tootle tunes on their horns that sound like party pieces.
In the midst of it all, you'll spot a great, heavy double door, dusty from all the action outside. Welcome to a hotel so independent it doesn't need a name - Hotel Sin Nombre is a city stay that actively hides away, nestled in the centre of Oaxaca. Its camouflage? A 17th-century shell (it's housed in an old mansion) and pared-back, minimal interiors furnished with a carefully curated selection of artefacts crafted by local artisans, from unique photography to hand-embroidered bed throws. For passers-by, this is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it stay - but you really don't want to miss it.
An airy hallway, left, and wall art beneath a staircase.
There are 22, across a range of categories. All have high ceilings, heavy wooden doors and sleek bathrooms. Careful design pairs dark-wood furnishings and antique pieces with wide, white linen-laden beds and bleached walls, with a sprinkling of vibrant hand-embroidered pieces that offer the quintessential Oaxacan burst of colour. Windows, dressed up in wooden shutters, overlook the busy streets below (but are noise-safe, don't worry). All rooms have air conditioning, and you'll find local artisanal chocolate and mezcal on offer in each. Shower rooms are starkly contemporary and blessed with strong water pressure and fragrant organic toiletries, locally sourced.
What's for breakfast?
Expect excellent black coffee and simple yoghurt and granola bowls topped with juicy, fresh papaya. For an additional cost, you can tuck into huevos, too. If you're seeking Oaxacan specialities, bear in mind that the market is only a stone's throw away, though, with the hotel's in-house restaurant being a known gastronomical star, a light breakfast might be preferable.
What about lunch and dinner?
Dining is everything at Hotel Sin Nombre, where three concepts offer three lenses on laid-back local dining: Restaurante Sin Nombre, Cantinita and Terraza Sin Nombre (the one to pick if you're wanting to sample the hotel's mezcal selection).
Central to the house's dramatic atrium is Restaurante Sin Nombre. Reservations are essential: the 24-cover joint is one of the city's most acclaimed kitchens, meaning it's fully booked for months in advance. If you're lucky enough to get a table, dinner might look like southern Mexican plates of fish tiradito and shrimp aguachile, a simple tomato salad, a humbly stupendous taco, plus killer mezcal-based cocktails.
The mezcal collection, left, and the bar area.
Is there a bar?
Yes, boasting one of the finest mezcal collections in Oaxaca, plus panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. Did we mention the killer cocktails?
Head to the atrium to wind away your hours visiting the hotel's cavernous gallery space or curling up with a book in the neon-lit library. The rooftop pool is deep and glorious - perfect for cooling off in a Mexican summer.
What are the eco-credentials like?
The hotel's ethos is centred around celebrating the local, from the produce on the menu at the legendary main restaurant to a raft of artisanal design pieces picked out individually for each guest room.
What about accessibility?
There are a lot of steps.
What's the crowd?
This is a popular haunt for famous faces passing through the city; we crossed paths with an award-winning Latin American arthouse cinema film director in the lobby.
Things I should know?
Rooms have stable-like doors, which allow a soft light to infuse through from the four-storey central foyer. They retain privacy, but you can still hear people quietly coming and going, and glimpse the occasional shadows of fellow guests moving past as you lay down. Not one for light sleepers.
Within a short walk I can find…
This is Mexico's food capital, and the city's famed indoor markets are on the hotel's doorstep. Swap sit-down dinners for grazing throughout the day: a kaleidoscope of produce and to-go dishes will take you from early breakfast to midnight snacks.