An Adventure In Copper Canyon, Mexico, Chapter Eleven – Casa Margarita in Creel is the Worst Hostel Ever

This entry is part 10 of 15 in the series Copper Canyon, Mexico

I was so glad to have found a room in Casa Margarita’s Hostel in Creel during Mexico’s Semana Santa holiday that I overlooked the unlit stairway between the second and third floor. In the dark, I nearly tumbled down the stairs when I turned my ankle on the uneven surface of a step that had lost a tile, but I dismissed it as the price of staying in a cheap hostel. Warning bells started to go off when my dorm mates demonstrated how to get into the room with a dinner knife that had been placed on top of the exterior door frame.

Casa Margarita’s Hostel in Creel, Mexico

Things went from bad to worse. Though the price of the room included dinner, I was informed that I would have to wait until after 8 p.m. to eat, since the hostel had agreed to feed a group of RV’ers who were given precedence over paying guests. Exhausted from a hard day of travel, I climbed into bed without eating, hoping to get a little writing done. Unfortunately, there was no light on my side of the room, so I decided to call it a night. Despite a non-functioning space heater in the room and mountain temperatures descending into the 40’s, the hostel had seen fit to provide only sheets and one thin blanket for my bed. I burrowed beneath the covers, trying to get warm, but it was no use; I shivered through a mostly sleepless night. Sometime during the middle of the night the water was turned off and in a room inhabited by seven guests of both sexes, the toilet couldn’t be flushed.

Dorm room at Casa Margarita’s Hostel

The next morning I was rudely awakened from my fitful sleep by the sounds of pounding hammers and buzz saws; the hostel is adding on a new wing, and construction started at the crack of dawn on the other side of my bedroom wall. I sighed and gave up on sleep, telling myself that I had to get up soon anyway, since I had booked a tour for the day. Famished, I showered, dressed quickly and headed downstairs for breakfast, only to find the RV’ers firmly ensconced in the dining room once again. Since my tour (which was booked with the hostel) would leave prior to the RV group, I missed a second meal.

The situation deteriorated even more. At the end of the day I broke into my room with the dinner knife and discovered that someone had moved my personal items from my bunk bed and taken it over. I trekked down three flights of stairs to get the issue resolved but absolutely no one in the hostel had any idea who was assigned to what bed and as a result, beds had been double booked. Once that problem had been remedied I hoofed back downstairs, determined to finally get a dinner, as promised. Although I had reminded the cooks and servers that I am a vegetarian, they served me meat anyway. I sent it back and was promptly served an alternative: a scoop of rice and a spoonful of refried beans was my entire dinner. I again went to bed hungry and cold, adding dirty to the list, since there was no hot water for the shower.

Shameful excuse for a dinner

Couldn’t get worse? Think again. The owner, Margarita, is a real witch of a woman. She conducts business from a wooden booth in an alcove just off the dining room, berating people on the telephone in front of guests. At one point I listened to her yelling: “Esa cabron, el no sabe nada!” That jerk, he doesn’t know anything! (I am intimately familiar with the word cabron, so I recognized it as a slur immediately). Yet when I tried to address my complaints with Margarita she suddenly knew nothing. Repeatedly, whenever conflict arose, she referred guests to some other employee, avowing ignorance.

On my third morning I rose very early to catch the bus to Batopilas Canyon and was zipping up my suitcase when I heard the familiar jiggle of someone trying to get in with the dinner knife. Perplexed, I looked around the dorm room. All the beds were full. The door opened a second later and a Mexican laborer waltzed into the room, casually walked into the bathroom, shut and locked the door behind him, and proceeded to use the toilet and take a shower. I don’t even want to think about whose soap and towel he used. Since I’d been asleep at this hour the previous two mornings, I wondered if this was a daily occurrence, and then I wondered if the locks were left unrepaired purposely, so that Margarita’s workers could use the dorm facilities.

Needless to say, Casa Margarita’s is the kind of place that gives hostels a bad name; it should be avoided at all costs.

To be continued…..

Series NavigationAn Adventure In Copper Canyon, Mexico, Chapter Nine – Hiking to Guadalupe CoronadoAn Adventure In Copper Canyon, Mexico – Using Creel as a Staging Area

17 thoughts on “An Adventure In Copper Canyon, Mexico, Chapter Eleven – Casa Margarita in Creel is the Worst Hostel Ever”

  1. A couple of friends and I stayed at Margarita’s in May/June 1997 (one of them made the reservation for all three of us in a room), and it was wonderful. We were the only Americans there. The place was full of Irish (hey, Fergus!), Austrians (Walter–wie geht’s?), Germans, Swiss, Welsh, Japanese, Australians, New Zealanders (a.k.a. “kiwi’), etc. After dinner, we sat on the inside patio, doing shots of tequila out of the bottle caps. Ohh, Ish, I hope you’re good! The United Nations in Creel.

    If the place has gone downhill as much as the initial commentator said, too bad. In May/June 1997, it was magical. Breakfast and dinner that wasn’t lavish but adequate. When Walter and I left, I told the proprietor (a man, not a woman), “I’ll be back!” And I meant it. No way would I go to an Americanized resort.

    • Hi Cindy: So glad to hear you had a good experience there. I do wish I could say the same. Perhaps it has improved since I was there in 2010.

  2. This is the second place I’ve found this post and the second time I’ve wanted to say, my experience in 92 was different. Maybe they’ve deteriorated. I was there in February, paid low price for a single room where the space heater worked and the hot water was on spasmodically. The place was full but not crowded and this may be why the owner and staff were able to give me an extra blanket when I needed it, and I had no trouble getting fed. For two weeks I found Creel magical, and the Casa Margarita a good base. But it was nearly twenty years ago.

    • Hi Yvonne: Thanks for sharing your experience, and so glad yours was better
      than mine. I have no idea if the management/ownership was the same 20 years
      ago, but it really lacks these days. Of course, I was there during Semana
      Santa, so some of it could be overlooked, but the general attitude of not
      caring a bit about the comfort of the guests was inexcusable, and everyone
      in my dorm was of the same opinion.

  3. Llegué a tu blog y me gustó mucho el contenido que publicas. Hace varios minutos que estoy viendo tus artículos. Acabo de incluir tu blog en mi lector de noticias RSS. Si estás aburrido, accede a mi sitio. Saludos!

  4. dear barbara,

    i’ve been in this hostel for few times
    and i must tell you: everytime i was there me and everybody around me (that i knew) enjoyed it alot!
    mostly because of the magical dinner and morning times that unfortunatly you didnt experienced because you of semana santa i guess!

    you cannot judge a place in mexico in semana santa!

    i think what you experienced was a lot of bad luck.
    coming to a cheep backpackers hostel in mexico in a small turist place like creel in SEMANA SANTA the most busy week in the year – you cannot expect much.

    I was almost one year in Mexico and all the problems that you tell i saw here and there in different places in mexico but to have all of these problems in one time i am sorry to tell, is just bad luck.

    hey… dont be too mean.
    writing “the worst hostel ever” is really not nice.
    you can write “the worst hostel experience ever”
    but people looking for casa margarita in the internet find your blog… it is not nice… not a good karma…

    • Gadi: There is no bad karma involved here. I simply reported the facts as they were. I traveled all over Copper Canyon during Semana Santa and had wonderful experiences everywhere else. Yes, the electricity goes out in Mexico. Yes, there is often no hot water. I roll with the punches where these things are concerned. But there is absolutely no excuse for some of the things that happened in this hostel. Double booking beds, doors that have to be opened with a knife, workers breaking into rooms to take showers, and an appalling “I couldn’t care less” attitude from the owner/management is simply a bad hostel, not a bad experience.

  5. What a horror story…admire you for staying there after the first night. I’m happy though that you can write truthfully about it and warn others. Maybe then will they start to learn that service and quality are important – after all, the internet and social networks are powerful things!

  6. I hate hostels that advertise breakfast or dinner but then only offer bread or it look like that plate above! Better they just not offer anything if you ask me. If you booked through a HostelBookers/HostelWorld hopefully you included a bad review there too.

  7. Maybe I missed it, but how did you find this place… so that the rest of us know not to do that? The place sounds horrible. Hope it gets better as I read more.

    • Hi Brian: Most places I have stayed are great – just had to write about this particular experience to warn others off. I think I heard about it from some other backpackers. Can’t remember exactly – my brain is sometimes mush when I travel.

    • Hi Steven: Just read your “open door”post and loved it! When my niece graduated from college a few years ago I went to her graduation.One of the professors gave a fairly long-winded speech, but there was a great nugget in it. He said that as we ggo out into the world and decide to help, we have to remember that we can always come back to our comfortable lives if we choose, while those whom we are attempting to help do not have that choice to fall back on. His point, I believe, is that we can never, ever completely understand how those people feel. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t walk through the door of possibility. We may not be able to completely empathize but we may be able to help, as long as we don’t judge.

  8. Things you can learn traveling…

    The hotel I stayed in last night has three prices 160, 200 and one room for 220 (local currency) per night. I grabbed the 220 (If my math is right that would be U.S. $9.) Notwithstanding the high end claim that the highest price room ought to fulfill, it was frightening. The mold on the shower ceiling which is quickly growing to more than just the ceiling is almost scientifically interesting. The two towels were the size of kitchen hand towels and when I went down to ask for a third “management” said “only two towels per room”. I insisted and got them to give me a third. But the best part came when I turned off my light to realize that there is an internal window above the bed that opens onto the hallway. Of course the hallway light stays on all night and sufficiently lights up the room for the occupant to be able to read in bed (which in a way is good since there is no bedside table lamp). When I mentioned this to management the next morning they did agree with my suggestion that a curtain might be a good idea but said that is one of the details that they have not gotten around to because it is always so busy. (I seriously question the too busy argument but thought better of challenging the assertion). I could go on with other details, like the fact that the main desk does not even have a local phone book (which would have come in handy when looking for certain supplies) or that after I had checked out but had come back to pick up my bags I asked if I could use their bathroom and they said it is only for staff; but you get the idea. Remind me to send a letter to the Lonely Planet folks to ask them what kind of tequila their reviewer was drinking when he wrote that “despite the price the rooms (at said hotel) sparkle”. (Maybe that sparkle was the light from the hall way reflecting off the glow-in-the-dark mold growing in the bathroom?)

    1. That much of the world is zoned seemingly exclusively commercial.

    2. That in way too many places outside the U.S. Kellogg’s products are ubiquitous and sort of jarring.

    3. That any hotel that costs under $15 per night will be horrible notwithstanding the Lonely Planet’s claim (of said hotel) that “despite the price the rooms sparkle”.

    4. That staying in a horrible hotel can be really fun.

    5. That the NY TImes travel suggestions of things to see and do and places to stay and eat are all pretty obvious and/or lame but somehow about right if that is what you are into.

    6. That many young men look a bit like Mark Wahlberg.

    • Steven, you are definitely my kinda guy. We’ll endure almost anything as long as it lets us travel, huh? Nut I must say that I have found lots of hostels for $8-10 per night that are just fine, so they’re not all bad!


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