When you’re trying to figure out where to stay in Mexico City, it makes a lot of sense to start with the location. What are you planning to do while you’re there? Are you going to have business meetings or do you want to stroll around the historic center? Do you want to be in a nightlife area? In a leafy park zone? Near the best restaurants?
For such a large metropolis, Mexico City is actually quite easy to navigate from a tourist standpoint. Most of the hotel zones of Mexico City are within a mile of two main streets that meander from downtown out through Polanco. Here are the areas to consider when you’re planning your trip to this capital of food and culture.
Historic District Hotels of Mexico City
The most atmospheric part of Mexico’s capital city is the oldest part. The historic centro is grounded by the huge Zocolo public square, with the off-kilter cathedral on one side and the municipal buildings on the other. You can take the subway straight here and it’s not very far from the airport.
There are a few chain hotels, like a Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn, but most of the properties are independent or small-chain ones with lots of personality. Hotel Downtown Mexico is part of Grupo Habita and has sections for both high-end travelers and budget backpackers, both mingling on the roof desk with pool. You may have seen Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico in several movies and one episode of The Romanoffs on Amazon streaming. It has an amazing view from the roof, where there’s a restaurant.
There are also some hostels and budget hotels in this area that are a good value and you can take the metro from here to anywhere it goes.
Paseo de La Reforma, Zona Rosa, and Condesa
I’m lumping these three together because if you’re someone who doesn’t mind walking for a half hour, you can get from one of these areas to the other on foot.
Many of the embassies and bank headquarters are along the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard leading from Alameda Park to Chapultapec Park. So you’ve got familiar chains like Marriott, Sheraton, Four Seasons, St. Regis, and Hilton along this corridor, along with a few Mexican chains. The eventual Ritz-Carlton will be along here too.
The Zona Rosa is a big nightlife area a few blocks from the main drag and some of the best mid-range bargains in the city are in this area. It’s convenient and fun for going out, though it can be noisy on the low floors.
Condesa and Roma transform from business district to leafy residential areas with lots of restaurants and nightlife. Most of the hotels in this area are independent ones and some are a great value.
Polanco and Chapultapec Park
Polanco is the richest neighborhood near the city and it will dispel any notions you may have about Mexicans not having a lot of money. You’ll find shops from Prada and Louis Vuitton, Mercedes and BMW showrooms, and restaurants that can top $100 per person without many drinks.
One street on the edge of Chapultapec Park has a string of chain hotels like Hyatt, JW Marriott, Intercontinental, and W. Habita’s original hotel is in this area, as is the upscale Las Alcobas with the staircase pictured above.
Neighborhood Hotels of Mexico City
If you want to be in an area where you won’t see many other tourists at night, a place where Mexicans live and work, there are a few nice sections of town besides Condesa and Roma where you can stay in a real neighborhood.
Coyoacan is where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera spent most of their time, so you can visit both houses they lived in together here. Plus there are some nice restaurants on the main place you can enjoy after the day visitors have all left.
The local Stara group has hotels in neighborhoods without a whole lot else. Stara San Angel Inn is in the area where there’s a big weekend art market and they also have a property in Colonia Juarez.
There are hotels at the airport of course, including a Camino Real right outside of Terminal 1 and a Hilton inside the terminal itself.
For reviews of the top choices, see detailed reviews here of the best luxury hotels in Mexico City.
When you’re ready to book, be sure you get a good points payback wherever you stay by checking out Mexico City Hotels at Bonwi. You may get enough points from this stay to pay for a flight to a Mexican beach area like Los Cabos the next time around.
Travel writer Tim Leffel has written about Mexico City for more than a decade and has a home base a few hours north in Guanajuato.