Hands down the best place to stay in Mexico City's Centro Histórico is the aptly named Downtown. Located inside a restored 17th-century casona (“big house” or “mansion”), the hotel shares the property with a select group of Mexican businesses, including a chocolate boutique and a mezcal bar, as well as restaurants, cafés, and fashion and jewelry ateliers. The rooms in the hotel evoke, appropriately, a bygone era, with low lighting, brick ceilings, and tile floors somewhat reminiscent of a monastery. Amenities are spare but select (C.O. Bigelow toiletries, for starters), and service is unobtrusive but attentive. There's a rooftop pool and bar, too. The bright yellow chaise lounges make a great place to relax in the afternoon, and oversized umbrellas protect you from the sun's rays while you read or wait for a cocktail to arrive.
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Downtown sits in a privileged location in the heart of Mexico City's Centro Histórico. The main square, or zócalo, is ringed by colonial-era buildings, many now occupied by government offices and museums. Popular neighborhood attractions include the cathedral and the Templo Mayor (an active archaeological site), as well as Pastelería Ideal, a two-story bakery that's been serving up sweet treats like conchas (shell-shaped breads) for nearly a century. The Centro is one of the capital's most walkable neighborhoods and is easily accessible via the Metro, which is both reliable and affordable.
Need to Know
Rooms: 17 rooms, starting at $175. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon Dining options: The casona housing the hotel is home to excellent restaurants, including the justly popular Azul Histórico, whose kitchen is headed by chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita and turns out exquisite interpretations of traditional Mexican dishes. Padrinos, also on the ground level, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a patio flanked by a living wall that is lush with plants. For something lighter or quicker, Tapas de San Juan has cheeses and charcuterie, and Da Silva is an artisanal bakery. Handmade Mexican chocolates are for sale at Que Bo!, and mezcal is the specialty at La Botica.
Who's it best for:Travelers who like stepping out of their hotel and into the heart of the city. Our favorite rooms:Suite Revolución may not be the quietest room, but that's precisely why it's so great: From its position facing the Casino Español building, the sounds that define Mexico City float up through the window, including street vendors advertising their wares. Explore the area:While the hotel complex itself is a hub of cuisine and culture, the nearby blocks comprising the Centro Histórico neighborhood are full of museums and historical attractions well worth exploring.