Most of the high-end hotels in Mexico City don’t have a lot of age on them. Many were built from the ground up in the past decades. This is a city that dates back to the time of Montezuma though, so there are places to stay with more of a story and a sense of place. Here are some noteworthy Mexico City hotels housed in historic buildings.
True to its name, Downtown Mexico is in the heart of the D.F. historic district, in a 17th century building that’s been revamped and modernized. Since this is part of the design-focused Habita Hotel Group of Mexico, forget any notions that your surroundings will be centuries old, however. Expect a casual elegance that’s upscale in one section of 17 rooms, downscale in a hostel part reached through a separate entrance. Both share the “see and be seen” roof deck with swimming pool and bar. As you’d expect, the clientele here is young and energetic, with eyes that can still see fine in the dimly lit public areas and a disregard for sleep that allows them to take full advantage of the festive atmosphere. An excellent restaurant helmed by a local celebrity chef and interesting boutiques are part of the same building. Rates start at $195 in the hotel proper, a handful of pesos for a hostel bed. For more info see a full review of Downtown Mexico Hotel.
Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico
This evocative place to stay is about as close as you can get to the heart of the city and was built in 1895. It’s just off the huge Zocalo plaza and near most of the attractions in the center. The Art Nouveau lobby here is like a grand movie set, with working birdcage elevators, a Tiffany stained glass ceiling, a marble staircase, and iron balconies lining the atrium.
After passing the parakeets and going to your room, you find historic elements like tasselled drapes and period furniture complimented by flat-screen TVs, minibars, electronic safes, and free Wi-Fi. Suites 302 through 306 are in high demand: these look directly out to the plaza. Rates start at $140 and can climb to more than $350 for prime suites in holiday periods. See more at the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico site. Book online through Priceline or Hotels.com.
La Casona Hotel Relais
Feeling more like a European bed and breakfast than a Mexican hotel, this Swiss-owned property was originally a block of six houses built in the early 1900s. It’s situated on the edge of the Zona Rosa area, near plenty of cafes and restaurants on shady streets that are good for strolling. The rooms are outfitted in traditional B&B style, with each displaying a different personality. Some feature florals and lace, others more leather and wood. Furniture is of a high quality throughout though and the tech additions include flat TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi, and and safes. Room service is available and there’s a well-regarded restaurant on the first floor. Rates start at $140 per night and go up as much as double in peak times. Book at Hotels.com or see more at the La Casona site.
Situated in the heart of the Zona Rosa restaurant and nightlife area, this grand historic hotel dates back to when Mexico City only had 650,000 residents and was an emerging center of wealth. Geneve is fittingly now owned by the family of the richest man in the world. That means this Belle Epoque building from 1907 is not hurting for refurbishment money. The result is a glittering lobby with stained glass, oil paintings in gilded frames, and a grand chandelier. This leads to the popular La Terraza restaurant, housed in an atrium now covered with a glass frame high above.
Rooms layouts are hampered a bit by their original dimensions, especially when it comes to the baths. But they feature crafted wood furniture on hardwood floors with Oriental rugs. Minibars, safes, and coffeemakers are in each room. Room service is available 24 hours and there’s a Sanborn’s outpost as a second restaurant. Past guests include Winston Churchill and William Randolph Hearst, but you’ll pay less than $100 in a standard room to stay here yourself. See more at the Hotel Geneve site or check prices at Hotels.com.
Editor Tim Leffel is author of Traveler’s Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America and has reviewed many of the best hotels in Mexico for LuxuryLatinAmerica.com. Photos courtesy of the featured hotels.