Mexico’s sprawling, frenetic capital, home to some 20-million residents in its greater urban area, has existed in one form or another for almost a thousand years. Home to grand boulevards, spectacular museums and some of the world’s best cuisine, this metropolis is catching on as a global destination for art, design and culture. Hotel La Valise is a true boutique hotel in the fashionable Roma Norte neighbourhood. The hotel isn’t kid-friendly, doesn’t have a gym and is not inclined to accept reservations less than four nights, but that doesn’t stop the cognoscenti from booking out La Valise’s three rooms. Visitors looking to get a taste of Mexico City’s finest offerings need a sleek spot to stay in, and La Valise has become the defacto home base for stylish travellers.
Roma Norte is the playground of Mexico City’s young, hip creative class, with yoga and Pilates studios, pour-over coffee bars, cold-pressed juiceries, design boutiques and trendy restaurants all within an easy walk. Must-visit sites such as the Museo Soumaya, Casa Luis Barragan and Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul museum, as well as the luxury shops and galleries of the Polanco neighbourhood, are a taxi ride away.
IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING
La Valise is a transformed 1900s townhouse with soaring 11-foot ceilings and wall-to-wall hardwood floors. Unfortunately, wood floors plus cathedral ceilings plus 1900s construction means you may hear your neighbours moving around above you or stomping up the stairs – depending on their affinity for stiletto heels and late-night excursions.
Thoroughly made over by French-Mexican interior design firm Chic By Accident, the rooms are decorated in a boho mix of mid-century antiques and contemporary Mexican art. Chrome 1970s lamps play against vintage Uruguayan hardwood chairs, while 1960s-style tiles in geometric patterns accent the walls and floor.
Each of the three rooms at La Valise are slightly, whimsically different. The El Patio suite comes equipped with a hammock and swing in its courtyard patio; the La Luna boasts a floor-to-ceiling fibreglass moon sculpture. And the third floor suite – La Terraza – is renowned for its view.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
On the top floor, La Terraza features a wall of windows, which opens to a massive terrace. The bed is on rails, which means you can slide outside to take in the night sky from under the covers. Say the word and the concierge will set up an outdoor projector for you to Netflix ’n’ chill in style.
La Valise prides itself on catering to all of its guests’ needs at all hours of the day and night. As such, unlimited coffee, herbal teas, beer, soda and healthy snacks are included with every room (plus a welcome shot of Alipus mezcal – you are in Mexico after all). Should you find your room lacking a vital amenity, the hotel’s concierge is available around the clock to find it for you.
WHO YOU’LL MEET
This exclusive hotel is the domain of creative professionals, mostly from New York, Miami and Los Angeles (with Torontonians an increasingly familiar sight, I’m told) enticed by the hotel’s ultra-hip location and unusual design elements. The hotel isn’t kid-friendly, doesn’t have a gym and is not inclined to accept reservations less than four nights, so don’t expect to find families or business travellers.
EAT IN OR EAT OUT?
There’s no in-house restaurant, but room service is provided by Rosetta, ranked 33rd on the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list, and Taqueria El Califa, a local taco institution. Among many excellent nearby options, Contra Mar, one of the city’s best seafood restaurants, is a short walk away on Calle Durango adjacent to Fuente de la Cibeles square. While Mexico City is far from the coast, fresh seafood is flown in daily and expertly prepared here. You can’t go wrong with their selection of seafood tacos, filets cooked with Mexican red chile and parsley and whole grilled octopus a las brasas. The tuna tostadas, wafer-thin fried tortillas topped with slices of raw hamachi, crispy ribbons of fried onion and avocado, are worth a visit on their own.
Hotel La Valise, Tonala 53 Roma Norte, Mexico City, lavalise.com.mx; three rooms from $380 (U.S.)
The writer was a guest of the hotel.
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