A calm and cool hideaway in manic Mexico City, Condesa DF hotel is a park-side pad with an art deco edge. The polished and playful interiors have a charmingly split personality, with bold floral prints alongside bright-white walls, flowing curtains and acrylic furniture. At treetop height, the terrace bar is where hip locals gather for cocktails.
Get this when you book through us:
A cocktail on arrival, a bottle of wine, and daily breakfast for two
Double rooms from £220.60 ($287), including tax at 19.5 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast. Tuck into chorizo-stuffed molletes, chicken chilaquiles, a cazuela of eggs, chorizo, potatoes and zucchini flowers from the à la carte menu (from 20 pesos)
Condesa DF lives for the weekend. Mexico City’s movers, shakers and taste-makers flock to its bar and dance floor on Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy the hotel’s cocktail wizardry and unflagging party spirit.
At the hotel
Spa with hammam, cinema, dance floor, library, DVD/CD selection, free Wifi throughout, free valet parking. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player, preloaded iPod sound system, Malin+Goetz toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
The views from Corner Suite 03.02 make it our top choice, but the gorgeous stone-clad wet rooms and huge shower roses in the Balcony and Patio rooms make both tempting options too. If you can, go for a room with outside space – the serene and leafy setting is a rarity in Mexico City, it’d be a shame to waste it.
The shallow rooftop pool is set in a light well lined with deep-green mosaic tile and fed from a fountain overhead. Curved bench seating makes it the perfect place to sit and cool off after a spell in the spa.
There's a small spa with one treatment room, a sauna and hydrotherapy pool. If you can't make it all the way to the spa, a therapist will come to your room.
Don’t bother with an iPod; the one in your room brims with chirpy chill-out tracks. Bring a notebook, though, for the ‘to download when I get home’ list you’ll inevitably find yourself making.
Certain areas are designated for smoking. Stays on 1 August require a seven-night minimum.
Bénito Juárez International Airport is Mexico City’s main gateway, served by direct flights from London Heathrow with British Airways (www.ba.com) and both Heathrow and London Gatwick with Mexicana (www.mexicana.com). It also has routes serving other destinations throughout the US and Europe. It's a 30-minute drive to the hotel.
Mexico City’s metro system is quick and cheap, with line 5 linking the airport to the city centre, but it can be overcrowded – a taxi is the best option for hassle-free journeys. If you do decide to brave the metro, the hotel lies between Chapultepec and Jaunacatlán on line 1 (change at Pantitlan).
Taxis to the city centre from the airport cost around US$20 – look for the authorised taxi stands inside the terminal to avoid being overcharged. Heavy traffic can add up to half an hour to the journey, so allow plenty of time. Cars can be rented at the airport but Mexico City’s chaotic and congested roads are not for the faint-hearted.
Worth getting out of bed for
Tequila is just half the story – Mexico’s unsung national beverage is mezcal, distilled from agave leaves. Corazón de Maguey, to the south of the city, has styled itself as a 'cathedral to mezcal' and its brilliantly hued interiors make an excellent photo backdrop (before the shots, mind). Try the house brand Alipus. A bonus of trekking here is that you can swing by Frida Kahlo's former home close by to browse the museum within. Later, take a walk in pretty and peaceful Parque Mexico in the heart of the district to de-fug your head. Pre-Colombian pyramid complex Teotihuacán is an hour's drive outside the city – it's worth the effort to scale its main monument and get a glimpse into life in an ancient civilization.
Bistro Mosaicoon Michoacán is Mexico City’s answer to French fine dining, with a wide-ranging menu that would please the most pernickety Parisian. On the other end of the scale, El Carifaon Altata is an authentic late-night tacqueria that does the tastiest tacos in town.
Lunch with fruity zing at salad, smoothie and sandwich stop Frutos Prohibidosa couple of blocks away from the hotel.
The Condesa area is home to some of the city’s chicest watering holes; two of the trendiest are: Argentinian salsa bar Pata Negraon Tamaulipas, and filmstar-owned martini-heaven CFNA, located on Nuevo León.
I love Mexico City. I love it because it’s big and brash, and a little bit mental. And that’s the point: if you want peace and quiet, go to Alaska. If it’s edge and excitement you’re after, the Distrito Federal is where it’s at. So when I find myself outside an elegant art deco boutique hotel on a tranquil tree-lined avenue, shortly after arriving at Benito Juárez airport, I feel slightly off-kilter.
As I’m waiting for Señor Smith to fly in from Cancún to join me, I have to drag my luggage into the tiny lobby of Condesa DF alone. There to greet me is a huge chocolate labrador, watching imperiously from behind reception with his paws on the counter. Is he making sure I’m dressed appropriately for this chic boutique hotel?
I walk through into a light-bathed, laurel-dotted triangular courtyard, where dressed-down chilangos are enjoying a parasol-shaded late lunch. I look up and see a Pythagorean vision of sky as blue as Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul. I’m in the centre of the atrium, and four floors of white walls, constructed from huge rectangular louvred panels, rise up around me. Oblong patterns of light are beamed onto the walls of the corridors behind. It’s beautiful and geometric. My old maths teacher would be delighted with Condesa DF.
This terrace leads onto a series of rooms, filled with mismatched, gently curving, Barbara Hepworth-esque furniture. Bold floral graphics in fresh verdant tones feature heavily, complementing the turquoise walls. Our own room continues the natural theme. Green walls segue into chocolate-coloured wooden floorboards. Huge doors slide closed to separate the bedroom from a pretty lounge, in which sit more flower-emblazoned chairs. I open my window and the sound of birdsong floods into the hotel from the palm-filled park across the road.
When Señor Smith arrives, I bounce around the room showing him all our new toys, before realising there are perhaps more important things to focus on after a spell of distance-enforced absence. When we finally make it up to the buzzing rooftop bar, there’s a slight chill in the air – but the stylish crowd of young creatives doesn’t seem to mind. We ward off the cold by cuddling beneath a blanket, as lounge music and the gentle throb of conversation provides our soundtrack. Occasionally, we stick out a hand to pick up champagne cocktails or to clamp chopsticks around morsels of Condesa DF's Mexican-influenced Japanese cuisine.
We’re on Latin time now, so breakfast is still waiting for us when we make it down to the courtyard at 11am the next morning, . Another beautiful day beams down into the atrium. With nowhere particular to be, we boutique-hop, gallery-browse and café-idle our way through this genteel, leafy neighbourhood. It’s hard to remember we’re in Mexico City – this all feels more like a romantic weekend in Paris.
In the afternoon, we brave the hot, frantic and intense city I know. Mr Smith is reluctant to leave our idyll in the suburbs, but I persuade him to come with me to the Zócalo. This bustling square has been the heart of the capital since the time of the Aztecs, and shows no signs of letting up. I drag Mr Smith through tightly packed crowds watching feather-headed dancers spin and whirl to a pounding drumbeat, to the Diego Rivera murals at the Palacio Nacional. After spending an hour or so admiring the epic frescoes, as chaotic and colourful as the culture from which they came, we head out to brave the burning sun amid the ruins of the Templo Mayor.
By 6pm, though, Mr Smith can bear no more. We jump into a green and white VW Beetle taxi and crawl along Mexico City's traffic-clogged highways, watching people weave between the cars to hawk toys and chewing gum. Stepping out of our cab beside the park, we breathe simultaneous sighs of relief; it’s hard to imagine we’re still in the same city.
That night, we treat ourselves to dinner in the hotel’s El Patio restaurant. Seated at a table in the atrium, we begin with refreshing ginger and champagne cocktails, then I move onto melting black cod in tequila miso while Mr Smith tucks into hearty braised ribs with a roasted apple purée. The food is divine; the service impeccable. We roll out of the hotel with full bellies and head to low-key local bar La Botica, which serves 15 different kinds of mescal, a local tipple caustic enough to strip paint. Bravery buoyed by the cocktails back at Condesa DF, Señor Smith asks for the strongest one they have. Several shots and some chillied peanuts later, he’s a little worse for wear.
Next morning, as we sit up in bed with coffee and pastries, we reflect on our weekend. What’s not to like about Condesa DF? Nothing. The hotel is a peaceful haven in one of the most frenetic and extreme urban environments on earth; it also happens to be a stylish and fun boutique hotel with world-class food and service. And it has a dog on front-desk duties. I wonder whether – if I tickle his tummy – he’ll let us stay for another night.
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