This hotel evokes a feeling of gracious charm reminiscent of Mexico’s colonial past. From the plant-filled lobby to the wooden elevator doors, Casa del Balam proudly wears its patina of age, yet provides all the important conveniences in well-maintained rooms. The location is only a block or two from Merida’s main plaza, the staff is friendly, and English is no problem. Free parking is only a few steps away.
Although breakfast was not included in our room rate, we chose to eat our breakfasts in the hotel’s dining room with its welcoming staff and ample people-watching opportunities via large windows that overlook an active street scene. By the way, we had no problems here in late December with a chilly room or lack of hot water.
Casa del Balam was probably the best thing about our stay in Merida. During our trip through the Yucutan, we also stayed at El Meson del Marques in Valladolid, which possessed a similar old-world character. South of Merida, we found Uxmal to be beautiful, tranquil, and impressive.
Unfortunately, I can not be as positive about the overall visitor experience in Merida. I live in Mexico and have traveled in a number of foreign countries, but I have never before felt so targeted as a tourist. Downtown Merida seemed full of shysters bent on parting American tourists from their money by any means possible, including dishonesty.
We had four such experiences in Merida: the friendly local whose real motive was to steer us to the Maya artisan market where he hoped to earn a kickback on our purchases. And there was the charming salesman at another artisan shop who persuaded me to buy a hat that night because the store was due to close for the holidays. Of course, the store was open as usual the following day. There was the manager of America car rental who refused to honor the "guaranteed rate" quoted in my online reservation and charged 20 percent more. And, finally, there was the unknown individual who stole my credit card information and made eight fraudulent charges to my MasterCard in Merida totaling $4,500 USD.
A word to the wise (that I learned the hard way)...never let your credit card out of your sight at a shop or restaurant. Watch it being processed electronically before your eyes because the merchant does not have access to your full credit card information when it is processed by an electronic reader. Rental car companies are a special concern because they may see and retain all of your credit card information until you return the car.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC