We were yearning for a quick & easy weekender outside of LA. Somewhere cheap and close to get away together for the first time in years. Our decision to book Mexico City on a whim was slightly mental. On the plane ride, we reveled in a romanticized vision of cobblestone streets and color-blocked walls where Frida used to live and love, as if Luis Barragán had lent his clean aesthetic to the whole city.
The plain reality, however, is that CDMX is a hard, chaotic and contemporary metropolis. Some seven thousand feet above sea level, it reigns like the sun over the rest of the country, and it’s impossible to take it all in in just a few days. In fact, you don’t take it in, it takes you. It’s a distinct overwhelming emotion; pure excitement mixed in with the fear of the unknown. A feeling of grandeur that many of the world’s capitals can foster – and this is the largest in the west. You can sense the layers of a thousand years of history under each footstep.
Our drive in heavy traffic from Benito Juárez to Centro felt like a blind date with a bad boy who just sweeps you off your feet when you least expect it.
Sometimes life takes a sudden turn in the best direction, and just like that, we were dropped off at the Downtown Mexico, a gorgeous boutique hotel built into an iconic historical building on Isabel la Catolica, a street that is buzzing 24/7, just like my best friend Roxy.
The Downtown Mexico is for social types and travelers who love to be right in the middle of the action. Our balcony opens straight onto the noisy mayhem of Mexico City traffic. Standing up there, you’re not to sure whether you’re the voyeur or the exhibitionist. In our case, surely a little bit of both.
There are only 17 rooms in the hotel, yet it feels like there’s always somebody around. The courtyard, busy at all hours of the day and night, provides a safety net. You’re walking distance from Zócalo, the city’s main square, and nearby all necessary shopping – from Zara to vintage cameras to makeup to electronics.
If you’ve ever searched for Mexico City inspo or even just looked for unique design hotels, chances are you’ve come across images of the property, a 17th century colonial palace transformed into an urban oasis by Cherem Serrano Arquitectos. The unique vertical garden is the hotel’s Pinterest claim to fame, but it is only one of many of the Downtown Mexico’s head-turning architectural moments.
For lunch, you’ll want to experience exquisite authentic Mexican food in Azul Historico’s tree-lined atrium – make sure to get the mole as it is said to be the best in town.
On evenings, the most stylish night birds in town come out to play on the rooftop and dance to the dj’s beats until the wee hours of the morning, sometimes indulging in a moonlit dip in the pool…
No matter where we go, Roxy and I stand out in our bright, matching outfits, and at times it’s frustrating. We are not free to casually sneak out in colorful alleys, and feel like we have to always be consciously taking the right turn. We find our safe haven in the posh residential neighborhood of Condesa.
If Uber’s generally the way to go to get around DF – it’s cheap and reliable– we’ll make an exception for Pedro, the lovely house driver of Hotel Condesa – another Grupo Habita property we were invited to review – who speaks excellent English and knows the city better than Waze. Wish he could take us around in the old burgundy car parked in front of the hotel, but it’s only there for show (and a solid photo op). Nevertheless, Pedro’s Mini Cooper will do.
Have you heard of Sunday Bath Inspiration, a theme started by the lovely @fete on Instagram? The Condesa’s terrasse suite is your chance to create your very own Pinterest moment. 😉
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Keeping up with #RoxyAroundTheWorld
To be continued…