I have stayed in HUNDREDS of hostels all over the world. When I think of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in, Puerta Vieja Hostel in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico comes straight to mind.

I know that sounds dramatic, but I’m fully serious. Puerta Vieja San Cristobal is one of the greatest hostels I’ve had the pleasure of staying in. I liked it so much, I came back… TWICE!

This is no ordinary hostel, there are an immense number of benefits to this place. To be completely honest with you, they bless their guests so much – I’m not sure how this hostel even makes money.

So, welcome to my heartfelt review of Puerta Vieja Hostel; written by a backpacker, for backpackers. Let’s get into it!

Sunset on the streets of San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico
Sun setting on our fave Chiapas town.
Photo: @Lauramcblonde

Getting to Know Puerta Vieja Hostel

Chiapas is the best not-so-secret on a Mexican backpacking journey. It’s less popular than the two coastlines, but boy, is it beautiful.

Not only is Puerta Vieja Hostel the best hostel in Mexico, but it’s the best hostel I have ever stayed in. Yep, I went there.

And I’m not the only one who says it either. Just check out the reviews on HOSTELWORLD; thousands of other backpackers agree with me!

Puerta Vieja Hostel campire area
The calm before the storm
Photo: @Puertaviejahostel

San Cristobal de las Casas is a charming place, with soul and character. Puerta Vieja Hostel brings this character to life. It’s the main hub for the backpacking scene here and becomes the first (or last) stop for many travellers staying in Mexico, before crossing into Guatemala.

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    What’s Unique About Puerta Vieja Hostel?

    So, WHAT THE HELL IS SO GREAT ABOUT THIS PLACE? Ok, I’ll spill the beans. The best thing about this hostel for budget backpackers is…. drum roll please… free stuff!

    And not just any free stuff. That good shit that backpackers need: free alcohol! Not only that but every day, this hostel comes with free breakfast, dinner and free activities.

    I bet you’re thinking there’s either no way that can possibly be true, or that the costs of this place must be stupid to allow for that kind of behaviour – but no. Really, I don’t know how this place makes any money.

    Street view from San Cristobal - Mexico
    Unlike Kate Bush, we were running down that hill.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Let’s take a step back and see what makes this one of the best hostels in Mexico:

    • Free breakfast (savoury, sweet, or vegan)
    • Free dinner (meat, veggie, or vegan)
    • Free evening activities (Tuesday is free mojitos and Friday free cocktails!)
    • Volunteering opportunities
    • Great parties and social scene
    • Free mountain bikes
    • Temazcal (traditional Mayan sweat lodge/sauna)
    • Terrace with campfire, hammocks & bar
    • 3 common areas, a cinema room, table tennis, and more!

    If you aren’t sold by now, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Puerta Vieja hostel also has the usual amenities and comforts you would expect from a great hostel, including super comfy beds, nice hot showers, lockers, a tour & travel desk etc etc etc.

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    Location of Puerta Vieja Hostel

    Puerta Vieja is the best of a great bunch of hostels in San Cristobal. It’s in the heart of town, and boy is it a nice town.

    There are restaurants and bars nearby (not that you’ll need them) and an abundance of market stalls and local shops. There’s a nice town square and generally just everything a backpacker could ask for.

    palenque ruins mexico
    There are some dang cool sights knocking about!
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    Geographically speaking, San Cristobal de las Casas is in a prime location for backpackers. It’s a great base to explore awesome sights such as the Palenque ruins, Sumidero Canyon, and various lakes/waterfalls (and Puerta Vieja offers tours to all these places).

    It’s also a gateway to your Central America backpacking trip. Guatemala is close by and Puerta Vieja Hostel organises buses to places like Antigua or Quetzaltenango (Xela).

    Puerta Vieja Hostel offers numerous types of rooms.

    Private rooms: deluxe double bed private ensuite rooms or basic twin rooms (shared bathrooms)

    Dorms: 6 or 8 bed mixed (or female only) dorms rooms. With some of the comfiest dorm beds ever!

    When considering the price of these beds, remember that they come with FREE breakfast and dinner!

    • Private rooms from $35-45.

    • Dorm rooms in the region of $14-18.

    Puerta Vieja Hostel dorm beds
    It doesn’t look like much, but trust me – the definition of comfy!
    Photo: @Puertaviejahostel

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    Do I Recommend Puerta Vieja Hostel?

    If you can’t tell already, YES! Of course, I recommend Puerta Vieja Hostel. It’s simply magnificent.

    I would especially recommend it to anyone travelling from Mexico to Guatemala – they have great transport links. All travellers in Mexico know that Chiapas has some of the best hostels in the world, for sure! Whilst this hostel isn’t the cheapest you will find in Mexico, considering you can get free breakfast, dinner, and alcoholic drinks, it is one of the best value hostels out there.

    Overall, San Cristobal and Puerta Vieja Hostel are one of the hidden gems of Mexico. It was my favourite hostel I have ever stayed in, I created some wonderful memories here and the staff were great; I don’t have anything negative to say, which is really quite remarkable.

    So, well done Puerta Vieja. I give this place a solid 10/10. If you’re reading this, just book the damn hostel already.

    Puerta Vieja Hostel hammock area
    Hope you enjoy, folks!
    Photo: @Puertaviejahostel

    And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!