The latest offerings in Mexico’s capital are bringing an extra dose of style south of the border. Here, the lowdown.
The latest addition to the grand Paseo de la Reforma is the St. Regis Mexico City (doubles from $430). Inside, 189 neutral-toned, Yabu Pushelberg–designed rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the city center. Amid the luxury-brand shops of the upscale Polanco district, north of the city’s Chapultepec Park, Las Alcobas (doubles from $275), also by Yabu Pushelberg, is refreshingly intimate: beds in the 35 rooms are covered with embroidered linens, while bathrooms have whirlpools and steam jets. You’ll find a younger vibe at Great Value Room Mate Valentina (doubles from $150), which opened in April in midtown’s Zona Rosa nightlife hub. Magenta sofas and textured wall patterns add a playful touch to the 62 sleek, white rooms. And southeast of the park, in chic and leafy Condesa, Great Value Condesa DF (doubles from $175; dinner for two $80) has become one of the city’s most fashionable addresses, thanks to its buzzy scene (including the popular El Patio Japanese-Mexican fusion restaurant) and relaxed, vintage-inspired design.
A posh crowd lunches at seafood specialist Contramar (lunch for two $70) in the historic Roma neighborhood northeast of Condesa. Get to this standard-bearer for the tuna tostadas and fluke ceviche before the restaurant closes at 7:30 p.m. Rosetta (dinner for two $61), also in Roma, is where the glitterati head for local celebrity chef Elena Reygadas’s Italian fare (octopus carpaccio; asparagus risotto), served in a restored Belle Époque mansion. In Polanco, the minimalist interior of Biko (dinner for two $115) sets the stage for a Basque-inspired menu that contrasts classic dishes—sea bass in clam sauce—with such experimental interpretations as boneless short rib de la olla, slowly cooked with raisins, piñon, and cinnamon. If you’re in the mood for good old-fashioned frijoles or pork-topped tacos al pastor, don’t miss Condesa’s Taquería El Califa (dinner for two $20), which serves some of the best Mexican comfort food around.
The city of Frida and Diego hasn’t lost its creative edge, thanks to a handful of pioneering museums and galleries. On the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo showcases contemporary international and Mexican artists such as Gabriel Orozco in a soaring, light-filled building unveiled in 2008. The Museo Universitario del Chopo is an early-20th-century building turned experimental art and performance hall that was recently redesigned by star architect Enrique Norten. Chapultepec Park’s Museo Tamayo mounts excellent exhibitions—currently, by Guadalajara conceptualist Jorge Méndez Blake—and is undergoing expansion. To see the latest in emerging art, head to Kurimanzutto, OMR, and Proyectos Monclova, a trio of galleries known for staging the city’s most cutting-edge exhibitions. Keep an eye out for a giant chimney stack of a building housing billionaire Carlos Slim’s Museo Soumaya. Designed by Rem Koolhaas protégé Fernando Romero, it’s scheduled to open at the end of the year in Nuevo Polanco.
Even if you don’t look like a Mexican movie star, you can dress the part at Condesa’s NaCo Miscelánea. This purveyor of hipster sportswear was cofounded by actor Diego Luna (Y Tu Mamá También). For vintage Luis Barragán chairs and other Modernist Mexican furniture, look to Roma’s Chic by Accident. The co-owner also opened the nearby La Valise, a combination art-and-literature bookstore, objets shop, and photography gallery. And be among the first to check out Celeste House, from the group behind the Mexico City–based indie fashion magazine of the same name. Opened last month in a renovated 1940’s house in Polanco, it is stocked with everything from Christian Louboutin shoes to 19th-century Latin American silver. Its third-floor English tearoom transforms into a champagne bar at night.
Mexico City International Airport
With the 2007 opening of Terminal 2, Benito Juárez International Airport gave Mexico City yet another gallery. The 7,000-square-foot T2 Exhibition Center (aicm.com.mx) is now showing artifacts from Mayan, Zapotec, and other pre-Columbian Mexican civilizations. Also in T2, a new outpost of Pineda Covalin translates the colors and symbols of Mexico’s rich culture into stylish scarves, ties, shoes, bags, earrings, and cuff links.
Safety Advisory: The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning about travel to Mexico, especially to border towns. Mexico City has been relatively secure, but travelers should exercise caution. For more information, visit travel.state.gov.
A trendy, artist-filled neighborhood in Mexico City now has a hip hotel to match. Surrounded by restaurants, bars, art galleries, and leafy tree-lined streets, Condesa DF is one of the most happening places in town. Paris-based interior designer India Mahdavi enlivened a triangular 1920’s French Neoclassical building with floral patterns and vibrant turquoise walls in the public spaces. The 40 rooms, arrayed around a central courtyard, marry indigenous materials (stone floors, Oaxacan blankets, alpaca-wool carpets) with sculptural furniture, walnut paneling, and sleek couches with contrast piping. The place heats up at night, when the rooftop sushi bar and basement dance club pulse with house music and bright young things dancing till four in the morning.
A high-ceilinged, blue-and-white dining room is the setting for long, loud, convivial lunches, especially on weekends. Fashionable locals come here to see and be seen, but the food is better than you’d expect. The ideal meal: oysters and pescado a la talla, grilled porgy painted with green and red sauces.
St. Regis, Mexico City
The city’s most elegantly modern hotel occupies the first 15 floors of a Cesar Pelli–designed building on Paseo de la Reforma. Rooms are large and plush (Yabu Pushelberg again), but the real showstopper is the panoramic view from the spa and fitness center.
The colors, images, and symbols of Mexico’s rich culture—from pre-Columbian history to contemporary painters—are translated into stylishly designed clothing and accessories (scarves, ties, shoes, and bags) here. Aztec and folk images embellish earrings and cuff links in silver.
Additional Locations in the Mexico City Airport:
Terminal 2, International Departures, Upper Level, near Gate 52, Post-Security (52-55-2598-3492)
Terminal 2, Domestic Departures, Upper Level, near Gate 63, Post-Security (52-55-2598-3491)
Room Mate Valentina
Magenta sofas and textured wall patterns add a playful touch to the 62 sleek, white rooms.
Taquería El Califa
If you're in the mood for good old-fashioned frijoles or pork-topped tacos al pastor, this place serves some of the best Mexican comfort food around.
Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo
On the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico this museum showcases contemporary international and Mexican artists such as Gabriel Orozco in a soaring, light-filled building unveiled in 2008.
Museo Universitario del Chopo
An early-20th-century building turned experimental art and performance hall that was recently redesigned by star architect Enrique Norten.
The recently renovated museum has a notable design shop.
Mexican artists including Gabriel Orozco
This purveyor of hipster sportswear was cofounded by actor Diego Luna (Y Tu Mamá También).
Chic by Accident
For vintage Luis Barragán chairs and other Modernist Mexican furniture.
A combination art-and-literature bookstore, objets shop, and photography gallery.
From the group behind the Mexico City–based indie fashion magazine of the same name, the store opened in October 2010 in a renovated 1940’s house in Polanco, it is stocked with everything from Christian Louboutin shoes to 19th-century Latin American silver. Its third-floor English tearoom transforms into a champagne bar at night.