May 31, 2023
Tablet is your source for discovering the world’s most exciting boutique hotels — places where you’ll find a memorable experience, not just a room for the night. For over twenty years we’ve scoured the earth, evaluating hotels for every taste and budget, creating a hand-picked selection that’s proven and unforgettable. Now, we’re the official hotel selection of the legendary MICHELIN Guide.
Casa Polanco is an understated name, but it says all it needs to say. This small and intimate boutique hotel is set in one of Mexico City’s poshest neighborhoods, and it occupies what was once a private house — two of them, actually, a Forties Neocolonial mansion and the unmistakably modernist addition next door. Together they contain just 19 rooms and suites, all unique and all decorated in a style that’s unmistakably luxe but maximally tasteful: soothing neutrals, sleek design furniture, richly figured marble bathrooms, and a curated collection of objects and décor from a multitude of eras.
The location is a lovely one, just across the road from Lincoln Park; the Lincoln Suite, in fact, takes in a panoramic view of the park from its vast private terrace. There’s a remarkably full-featured spa and wellness center, a soundproofed oasis from the buzz of the city. And while there’s no in-house restaurant, there is an impressive breakfast menu as well as an afternoon tea service that would be the envy of a few London hotels. Beyond that, the neighborhood has everything you’ll need, including many of Mexico City’s finest restaurants.
There are few cities in the world quite as overwhelming as Mexico City, but even here there are green spaces to be found, if you know where to look. Hacienda Peña Pobre lies not in the ultra-urban heart of the city but near its southern edge; more importantly, it’s set just yards from the Bosque de Tlalpan, a sizable urban forest and a popular destination for locals in need of some greenery.
Although this stately 19th-century house is a listed architectural monument, its interiors owe just as much to modern boutique-hotel design as to the era of the building’s construction. Unique, period-correct architectural details are set against crisp, contemporary decoration, tied together by works by local artists. Standard rooms are subtly luxe, while the suites add kitchens and living rooms, and the Duplex orientation combines one of each.
In a city as vast and overwhelming as Mexico City it’s no accident that the most enjoyable hotels are often the smallest. And while Casa Goliana has plenty else going for it as well, its most immediately apparent characteristic is its small size. Weighing in at just eight rooms, this 20th-century house in the hip and upscale Roma district blurs the line between boutique hotel and bed and breakfast — but by any name, it’s a charming, intimate, and extremely stylish stay.
The rooms, fittingly, are roughly one part contemporary boutique-chic and one part eclectic, bohemian residence. Some rooms face the terrace or interior patio, others the street, and all feature modern tiled bathrooms — some with beautiful roll-top bathtubs. The furnishings are substantial, the artworks are unique, and there’s no compromise to be made between character and comfort.
Anyone who still thinks of Mexico City as a polluted, congested urban dystopia hasn’t spent much time in La Condesa, the district that lends the Condesa DF its name. Here the wide avenues are lined with trees, which along with the Art Nouveau architecture resembles Paris more than it does the neighboring Centro Histórico.
The Condesa DF is a perfect fit for a neighborhood stuffed with cafes, boutiques and galleries. This conversion of a 1928 apartment block is nothing if not stylish, highly modern without coming off cold or over-designed. The interiors are by the Parisian designer India Mahdavi, whose custom-designed details — from the furniture in the rooms to the tableware in the restaurant — convey a strong sense of personality.
Mexico City’s Hotel Habita is the very face of urban boutique cool, wrapped in an outer layer of frosted glass, extending the old apartment block’s volume out into space, making corridors of the old balconies, keeping the cool air in and the street noise out. From outside, the silhouettes of the well-heeled hotel guests can be spied moving from room to room, inside what in daylight resembles a block of ice, and at night an outsize paper lantern. Archi-tourists will be charmed, while traditionalists may ask when the construction is scheduled to finish—in any case, it’s a radical departure from the stately residential buildings of the upscale Polanco neighborhood.
The interiors are, of course, just as startling, with the Mexico City colonial style nowhere in evidence, replaced by a sparkling white minimalism, with hardwood floors and an almost Scandinavian coolness—corridors are painted a calming sea-foam green that adds an icy tint to the daytime exterior. Rooms are stark and stylish, with Eames or Jacobsen-style chairs and another plane of glass as a desk.
Grupo Habita was at the forefront of the original boutique-hotel boom, and they’re still at it with Círculo Mexicano, a 19th-century building in the Centro Histórico updated by architects Ambrosi Etchegaray into a striking and unique 25-room boutique hotel.
The accommodations, on the second and third floors, are arranged around a central patio, and in the public spaces the contrast of weathered period materials and brand-new modern construction is at its strongest. The rooms themselves are designed in a Shaker-inspired minimalist style, in simple traditional materials and Oaxacan textiles, with clutter kept to a minumum and subtle luxuries where they count, including furniture by local design studio La Metropolitana.
The Habita group, over the past decade or so, has amassed an impressive collection of boutique hotels, an empire that spans more or less all of Mexico, from the cities to the countryside to the beaches of Playa del Carmen. And even as their holdings expand to include their first foreign property, New York’s Hotel Americano, the brand-new Downtown Mexico is proof that they aren’t letting their imperial ambitions loosen their hold on the capital’s boutique-hotel business.
Architecturally it’s a bit of a departure, occupying a brick-fronted 17th-century palace a short walk from the Plaza de la Constitución, as central a location as a Mexico City hotel could ask for. Once inside, though, that signature Habita architectural flair returns with a vengeance: the original high ceilings remain intact, among other charmingly weathered period details, but the prevailing atmosphere is that of a very clean, very contemporary modern boutique style. Simple forms highlight rich textures, from the dark tiled floors to the raw wood furnishings to the screens, almost Moorish in style, that set the bathrooms apart from the bedrooms.
There’s something deliciously ironic about the fact that the biggest city in North America is home to some of the world’s finest small hotels. And by small, we really do mean small: Nima Local House Hotel, with just four rooms, is probably more house than hotel, and, to borrow a catch phrase, it’s the perfect way to live like a local in the Mexican capital’s charming and stylish Roma district.
This is the part of Mexico City that feels perhaps most like a European city, and there’s more than a little bit of that old-world elegance about the turn-of-the-century mansion where Nima makes its home. Once inside, however, you’ll find the style is contemporary, thoughtful, and subtly stylish — not a “design hotel,” per se, but a well-designed hotel all the same.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more exemplary hospitality success story than casa9 in Mexico City. Originally built in the early 20th century as a decadent private residence for a wealthy family, the home slowly fell into disrepair and became lost in the vast expanse of the city. Decrepit and overgrown with local fauna, the house was left neglected for decades before a new family eventually purchased the structure, and they were quick to give it a second chance at life along with a top-to-bottom makeover. Now — years later and world away from where it was — it exists as one of the most exquisite bed and breakfasts in Mexico City.
With just four rooms, everything about casa9 is intimate. Architects Rafael Rivera and Javier Claveri (of trailblazing architectural firm Habitación 116) are known for their playful and experimental designs, and that’s something that’s on full display here. Wood paneling that recalls mid-century modernism, floor-to-ceiling window walls, and elegant, minimal furnishings that would make the Eameses blush — that’s the look in a nutshell.
It’s always cool to be contrary — especially in the world of cutting-edge boutique hotels. Let the big chains scramble to outdo each other with bigger spas and better restaurants, sparkling fitness centers and Olympic-sized infinity pools, more pillows on the menu, more of everything. An achingly hip little hotel like La Valise in Mexico City doesn’t need any of that. In fact, the three-suite property, located above a shop in a 1920s townhouse in the happening Roma neighborhood, makes a virtue of its small size.
This petite urban refuge is the project of entrepreneur and globetrotter Yves Naman, who collaborated with the French-born Emmanuel Picault, a designer known for a portfolio of chic shops and nightclubs in both Paris and D.F. Longtime denizens of the stylish neighborhood, they opened La Valise — a concept store featuring pieces “Designed and Made in Mexico” — plus a trio of spacious and beautifully outfitted suites. El Patio, as the name suggests, features a breezy patio complete with a leather swing and a hammock handmade by artisans in the Yucatán. Inside, the aesthetic is bolder and more dramatic, with a black velvet sofa, crocodile-skin upholstery and a terra cotta sculpture of a dog by artist Carlos Ranc. La Luna, with pale hardwood floors, vintage lamps, and a hallway painted pink, has more of a romantic Frida Kahlo-inspired look — with a modern edge, of course. La Terraza is the most lavish of the three suites: the king-sized bed rolls from the bedroom to the open-air terrace, which is conveniently equipped with a movie projector. There’s also a fireplace inside. (Good luck convincing yourself to venture out on the town when you’re staying in a suite like this.) All three suites come with a long list of amenities: 600-thread count Egyptian cotton linens, large bathtubs and walk-in showers with products by L’Occitane, Nespresso machines, tech-forward sound systems, 40-inch LED flat-screen TVs.
Many boutique hotels in Mexico City feature publics spaces on the roof, whether bars, restaurants, pools, or all of the above. The follow boutique hotels have among the best rooftop spaces.
The Wild Oscar
If you need a workout besides your walks around the city, the following Mexico City boutique hotels feature gyms.
Live Aqua Urban Resort Mexico
The St. Regis Mexico City
W Mexico City