Nov 18, 2009

Coolest hoteliers in Mexico open their third 5-star property in the capital

One of my favourite hotels in Mexico is Playa del Carmen's BASICO. I just love everything about it: the vibe, the utterly quirky design, the airyness, the guests. Once I stayed there, I started to pay more attention to what the owners of the BASICO do. They have a series of cool hotels, group under the banner grupo Habita.

They recently opened their third hotel in Mexico City, called Distrito Capital (Rua Juan Salvador Agraz, 37, tel. 5255 5257-1300) , in the Santa Fé district.

The hip French designer Joseph Dirand did the interiors, so naked they remind one of a modernistic convent.

At the entrance, dramatic cuts into the black walls let in slices of daylight.

The rooms are equally sober and minimalistic and come with iPod docks and amenities by Acqua di Parma.

It was in 2000 the four young entrepreneurs who own grupo Habita opened their first boutique hotel, the Habita (Avenida Presidente Masaryk, 201, Cidade do México, (555) 282-3100). It single-handedly changed the hotel scene in the city.

The 5-story building, enveloped in a milky glass "skin", looks like a lantern when lit up at night.

It's been a huge hit since day 1.

In 2001, they opened the Condesa df (Avenida Veracruz, 102, (555) 241-2600), a super cool triangular shaped hotel in the eponymous district of Mexico City.

Their La Purificadora (Callejon de la 10 Norte, 802, Puebla, (222) 309-1920) - is another architectural marvel, with the somber grey walls made more lively by sudden splashes of purple. Oh, and there's that famous pool in the lobby...

Their funnest hotels are the Hotel Deseo and my all-time fave, the Hotel Básico, both in Playa del Carmen. At Deseo (Quinta avenida s/no , Playa del Carmen, (984) 879-3620) the rooms face a pool that's always very happening, like an outdoor lounge party. At the Básico (Quinta avenida, s/no, Playa del Carmen, (984) 879-4448), a mere two blocks away, the décor is kooky-nautical with lots of black rubber and ivory cement tiles, with beds on stilts and other fun details.

Nov 14, 2009

Orozco murals are the main draw at Guadalajara's Instituto Cabañas


The Instituto Cultural Cabañas, an ex-orfanage in the Old Downtown of Guadalajara, is quite beautiful and has been declared part of Unesco's Heritage of Humanity.

Stone arches shade the long courtyards, and the place is used often for offical functions (Obama attended one recently).

The night I was there, local beauties paraded in folkloric dress:


The famed Orozco murals, more aggressive than beautiful, depicting a hellish scene, line the domed ceilings of where the chapel used to be. Armed guards made me leave my camera at the entrance so I had to settle for a little video make surrepticiously, so sorry about the shaken footage...


Guadalajara's Old Downtown: a photo tour


Don't get me wrong: Guadalajara is far from the first city I'd recommend anyone spending time in. Most of it is kind of ugly, the traffic is bad, and... well... I just didn't really love it. Having said that, the Old Downtown is quite beautiful, its churches and government buildings impressive and imposing and a bit European-looking. Oh, and did I mention the thousands of stores selling cheap gold and silver jewelry? :)

In short, don't make Guadalajara your final destination, but by all means do stop there for a night or two and spend time wandering the old streets.









San Juan de Dios market in Guadalajara, one of the biggest in Mexico


Large is an understatement: the San Juan de Dios market in Guadalajara is paradise for foodies like myself, where you could get lost for hours exploring a million herb, spice, fruit and veg vendors. The best part? The enormous "food court" on the second floor, with restaurant after restaurant serving the most incredible food (mostly Mexican, but also Chinese, Japanese, you name it!). The market's official official website says:

“Originally created as a meeting place for merchants in 1590. Has 40,000 square meters of floor space. It's a traditional market selling articrafts from Jalisco and other states. Among the goods on offer are shirts, hats of all kinds, shoes of all styles, jewelry, articles of the home, etc."


Oh, and did we mention they sell birds, too?


And sweets for the Dia de los Muertos:


Deliciously ripe fruit-in-a-cup:



And food in all its glory!


Delicious sandwiches (tortas) of pulled pork, mayo, shredded lettuce and tomato.



Carne en su jugo stew, absolutely delicious and fresh.


Faux Gucci e Louis Vuitton for 10 bucks? No problemo!

Toys, shirts, embroidered everything...


San Miguel de Allende, colonial jewel: a photo tour






















Here, a link to a slideshow of these and other photos.

Intercontinental Hotel in Guadalajara: a rare corporate hotel with personality


This blog is not a fan of chains. Holiday Inn? Day's Inn? Best Western? Thanks, but no thanks.

That's why we were very happily surprised when we checked in at Guadalajara's Intercontinental hotel. A chain hotel that actually has a hip vibe and personality, who knew?!

We loved the streaked marble and the bege sectional couches in the lobby, which has a calming vibe.

We loved the smartly designed white lacquer furniture in the room - especially the oversize drawers perfect for keeping messes out of sight.

The desk was pretty cool, too, with a plug dock and a skinny light above, and high-end ergonomic swivel chair.


Nice splashes of colour on the incredibly plush king-size bed:


iPod dock by the bed, of course…


And a floor-to-ceiling glass wall that revealed the city's skyline, pretty when all lit up.


Huge bath with granity vanity and shower:


Oh, and they deliver free coffee to your room in the morning, and offer 2-for-1 margueritas at the lobby bar at happy hour.

What's not to like?