Night at the Museum, or 3

      Hotel entrance (above) and museum-style curated exhibit about 1 guest, Marlon Brando (right)

Mexico City is a wonderfully diverse and cosmopolitan city for a quick trip, especially from Texas.

That led me to book a cheap roundtrip flight on American Airlines for $200 from Dallas and a stay at Hotel Geneve ($100/night) for three days. Where else can you go for $500 including airfare? When you arrive in Mexico City’s very modern airport, taxi stands near the exits will arrange for a taxi for a prepaid fare depending on the zone where your hotel is located. The trip cost $25, which I paid with my U.S. credit card. Easy. All the nightmarish tales I was told about how unsafe taxis are, and how they rip you off, no longer apply. Those days are gone. Mexico City has come a long way.

Hotel Geneve is equivalent to staying at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Opened in 1907, it is one of the oldest hotels in Mexico City, and one of the fanciest, yet with an Adams Family feel. Throughout the hotel are museum-curated exhibits and framed memorabilia explaining the history of the hotel. It was like staying at a museum, not a hotel.

I had requested a room away from street and elevator noise. That was a good thing as the street in front of the hotel is totally torn up. Mexico City government is making vast improvements to the infrastructure. Everywhere you look there is construction. There are more cranes in Mexico City than in booming Dallas, Texas.

Hotel Geneve is located in the Zona Rosa (the pink zone). This area used to be the most fashionable area, but it fell into second and then third place after newer adjacent areas took off. Today it is still very crowded at night with many young Mexicans in the streets visiting the many bars and night clubs. It also has the reputation of being the center of the gay community today.

Because the street out front of the hotel was not passable, the taxi dropped us off at the back of the hotel. A bellman escorted us to the front desk to register, traversing what seemed like a maze. Another bellman was needed to lead us to the elevator to our third-floor room tucked in a quiet corner of the hotel. Again, I felt like a mouse in a maze as we weaved around to the elevator. Eventually we learned our way around, but exploring the nooks and crannies of this amazing hotel/museum heightened the fun of it.

A couple of doors down from our room a plaque (in Spanish) indicated the suite where Winston Churchill stayed. In the hotel lobby are exhibits of ballroom clothing throughout the ages, shoes and luggage over the century, and the hotel furnishings and finishes appear to be original throughout.

The hotel today is owned by Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico. Perhaps because he made his money in the telephone business, the Telephone Bar at the hotel is decorated with a very large number of antique phones and phone booths. Very cool. Consider booking the current online special room rate that includes transport to the Museo Soumaya displaying Slim’s art collection, a must-see while in Mexico City, discussed in an earlier post.

A book, now out of print, on display at the front of the hotel details various guests that stayed at the hotel, including Charles Lindberg, Marlon Brando, Frida Kahlo, John Dewey, William Randolph Hearst, and many Mexican leaders. Reading about what brought each of them to Mexico animates the hotel. My favorite past guest: Pancho Villa. Pick your favorite; many greats slept here, and so did I!

Just don’t drink the tap water. Despite all its modernization, Mexico still hasn’t figured out how to make it safe.

 

2 Comments

  1. Interesting post, Michael! I was in Mexico City back in February, and wish that I had read your posts before that. My hotel was in the same area, but not interesting at all. I agree about the road/sidewalk construction. It was a mess!

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