Mexico City

Punta Mita, Mexico
Punta Mita, Mexico // Photo by axl5188/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

 

The W Mexico city has restyled its Living Room lobby.
The W Mexico city has restyled its Living Room lobby.

Hip, historic, urban and exciting, Mexico City is luring U.S. visitors for long weekend getaways and immersive cultural sojourns. Here, we provide insider tips on where to shop, dine and stay.

Las Alcobas Mexico City has just 35 rooms; this boutique sits in the chic Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City. Hot News: The property has just been added to Starwood’s Luxury Collection, giving the hotel company a strong presence in the city.

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Though petite in size, Las Alcobas sports two locally acclaimed restaurants, Anatol and Dulce Patria, and a spa. Expect style with panache here; design duo Yabu Pushelberg crafted the hotel’s look, which has a chic and sleek vibe.

Minibar Madness: Las Alcobas has a fun minibar program; it’s stocked with free Mexican goodies and non-alcoholic beverages. Guests checking in also get to select from a variety of locally made soaps.

Best accommodations here we say are the Corner Rooms; their layout serves up panoramic views of the Polanco district, viewable from the king-sized bed, no less. All-marble bathrooms complete with rain showers are a nice touch. The Las Alcobas Suite is also a corner suite, and has a living room, a dining room for six, plus a power room and a home theater system. Nice Touch: It can be connected to a Deluxe Room to create a two-bedroom suite.

Deluxe Double Rooms also provide extra space; they have two queen beds and a separate seating area. Bathrooms have soaking tubs and a private rain shower. Their location over an inner courtyard provides a quiet touch.

Those seeking presidential suite-style digs at Las Alcobas should opt for the Pasaje Penthouse; aside from the living room and dining room for six, it has a kitchen designed for butler service. We love the indoor/outdoor fireplace and that the large terrace has a private garden with lovely views of the area. A-listers traveling under the radar take note: the hotel has a garage with a private entrance. Those arriving by private jet can use Toluca International Airport, 50 minutes from the hotel. Those flying commercial land at Benito Juarez International Airport, which is 30 minutes away. Contact Chief Concierge Aarón Caballero ([email protected]; 011-525-533-003-900) for assistance or advice on getting to La Zona de Polanco (or “Polanquito”), which is a quaint shopping area with market type stores (think, fruits, vegetables, flowers, simple restaurants and artisan and folk crafts). He can also advise on the Masaryk shopping area, which is a “Golden Mile” of restaurants, lounges, art galleries, movie theaters and high-end designer stores.

Las Alcobas has suite living rooms that illustrate the sleek vibe of the hotel.
Las Alcobas has suite living rooms that illustrate the sleek vibe of the hotel.

Count on Caballero as well to book a private dining room at Anatol, which sports a great location on Presidente Masaryk street. The restaurant is overseen by Chef Justin Ermini, who has a farm-to-table philosophy. Dulce Patria is an upscale Mexican restaurant, providing an authentic flare for visitors to the city.

Book in advance for the tiny two-room spa; we’re all about the 30-minute “Lemon and Rosemary Jet Lag Massage.” Marjorie Charlton ([email protected]) is the spa director.

General Manager Michael Chiche ([email protected]; 011-525-533-003-900) runs the hotel, which has launched a “Mi Segunda Casa” program that allows guests, who use the hotel often, to store their belongings in a personal wardrobe. The program also includes laundry service and replenishing services on favored amenities and toiletries.

The St. Regis is now offering guests a Chef’s Table dining experience and spacious rooms.
The St. Regis is now offering guests a Chef’s Table dining experience and spacious rooms.

Hint: Watch for Las Alcobas to open a sibling hotel in Napa Valley next year.

Foodies take note: The St. Regis Mexico City is now offering a Chef’s Table by Krug in its Decanter Room. Seating just 12, the dinner pairs fine cuisine with Krug Champagne offerings. The hotel also now has a useful “48 Hours in Mexico City” package, which allows guests to customize two-day stays. The program includes breakfast, transfers, city tours and a meal at one of the hotel’s restaurants.

The W Mexico City, also a part of Starwood, is in the Polanco neighborhood. Now in its 12th year of operation, it’s revamped its rooms and public areas, including its hip Living Room lobby bar. Guest rooms have new lighting and air condition, plus soundproof walls, USB outlets and connectivity panels on desks. W beds have goose down duvets, Egyptian cotton sheets, cotton bathrobes and Bliss bath products. We love the minibar, which has all the accouterments for mixing our own cocktails. For VIP treatment, contact Oscar Alcocer ([email protected]).

Matthew Upchurch with Mexico’s then-President Calderon at the network’s Symposium in 2010.
 
Matthew Upchurch with Mexico’s then-President Calderon at the network’s Symposium in 2010.

Insider Access

We asked Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso, to share his list of favorite restaurants and attractions in Mexico City, the city where he was born.

Restaurants

Merotoro

Amsterdam 204; 011-5564-7799; www.merotoro.mx 

Monday-Saturday 2 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Merotoro blends Mediterranean and Mexican recipes in surprising ways with exquisite, artisanal ingredients drawn from heirloom farms all over Mexico, especially Baja California.

Contramar

Durango 200; 011-5514-3169; www.contramar.com.mx

A hotspot that really delivers, Contramar serves Mexican-style fish and shellfish. The people-watching is second only to the food’s rich yet delicate flavor.

Azul Histórico

Isabel la Católica 30; 011-5521-3295; www.azul.rest 

Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Refined modern Mexican cuisine served in a buzzy, chic colonial courtyard.

Anatol

Hotel Las Alcobas. Masaryk 390; www.lasalcobas.com 

Monday-Wednesday 1 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday till 11:30 p.m., Sunday till 5:30 p.m.

Serves an international mix of rustic recipes and organic Mexican ingredients in a swank, big-city room.

San Ángel Inn

Diego Rivera 50 at Altavista, Colonia San Ángel Inn; 011-5616-1402; www.sanangelinn.com 

Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday till 10 p.m.

Offers the classic hacienda dining experience. Many claim it’s home to the DF’s best martini.

Art Galleries and Museums

Kurimanzutto

Rafael Rebollar 94, San Miguel Chapultepec; 011-5256-2408; www.kurimanzutto.com

Wednesday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

One of the principal forces behind Mexico City’s contemporary art boom — there’s always something interesting there.

Fundación/Collección Jumex

Bulevar Miguel de Cervantes 303, Colonia Ampliación Granada; www.fundacionjumex.org

Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

An international must-see for contemporary art lovers, Latin America’s most important collection set up shop in Nuevo Polanco in November 2013. The sleek museum structure, by Brit architect David Chipperfield, is a stunner.

Museo Franz Mayer

Avenida Hidalgo 45; 011-5518-2266; www.franzmayer.org.mx

Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A beautiful colonial construction that houses collector Mayer’s extensive decorative arts holdings; temporary exhibitions focus on design and photography.

Museo Nacional de Arte (Munal)

Tacuba 8; 011-5130-3400; www.munal.com.mx

Tuesday-Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

An exhaustive survey of Mexican art from the 16th to 20th centuries. Its gorgeous beaux-arts home is worth the price of admission alone.

Hope Smith is shown here at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, which contains the largest collection of archaeological and anthropological artifacts from pre-Hispanic times.
 
Hope Smith is shown here at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, which contains the largest collection of archaeological and anthropological artifacts from pre-Hispanic times.

Advisor Insight

Hope Smith of Born to Travel, a Mexico expert advisor, shared her tips for making the most of a trip to this capital city.

“For shopping, I like Maggie Galton. I usually call her and she will open her studio in Mexico City so clients can go and see all that she has. She has a way of making textiles into modern pieces, from pillows to blankets to napkins; it’s all very unique. She also works with local women and indigenous communities; she helps them by supporting their work.

“I also like the Mercado de Artesanias de San Juan; this is the mercado to visit. If you do not have the time to visit all the regions of Mexico, you will find what you want here. Best part? Sometimes the pricing is better, plus it’s fun walking the stalls and seeing all the different artifacts from each region of Mexico. If you speak a bit of Spanish, it helps, or we can arrange a guide to take you. This is not high-end shopping but a chance to get some fun local flavor.

“I work with a guide by the name of Francisco de Santiago of De Santiago Tours ([email protected]). He is also a wealth of knowledge on the history of Mexico and the best food guide in the city. He has knowledge of not only the high-end restaurants, [but] he’s best at the local food stands and eating with the locals.

“The other person I work with is Ruth Alegria ([email protected]), a well-respected American who is on top of every new chef and restaurant. She can also arrange for any type of mercado food shopping experiences or cooking classes.

“Another fun place is Mercado Roma, sort of Eataly in Mexico City. You can find almost anything at this trendy market, plus Colonia Roma, where it’s located, is the place where a lot of new restaurants have opened.”

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