The Hotel Zones of Mexico City

Zocolo of Mexico City has hotels nearby

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?

hotel zones of Mexico City neighborhoods

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.

Zocolo of Mexico City has hotels nearby

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.

Paseo de la Reforma hotel zone has Four Seasons

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.

Las Alcobas Hotel stairwell Mexico City

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

There area distinct hotel zones where you can stay in Mexico City, plus a few scattered around neighborhoods like San AngelIf 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.

9 Things to See in Sunny Mazatlan, Mexico

Golden Zone of Mazatlan

What to do and where to go in Mazatlan Mexico

Mazatlan, facing the Sea of Cortez on the western coast of Mexico, doesn’t get nearly the attention of many other resort areas, like Los Cabos. It only has a few glitzy hotels aimed at the rich and famous and has traditionally had fewer international air connections than Puerto Vallarta or the Los Cabos area. This is also a real city, not a custom-built resort area, so there’s a history before tourism and plenty of jobs that have nothing to do with that part of the economy.

The main draws for vacationers have long been sport fishing and the terrific beaches, from the Golden Zone and “New Mazatlan” to the north down to surfer beach OlasAtlas near Old Mazatlan. Both are still the reasons many fly here on vacation, but Mazatlan also has the distinction of having a real historic district—most of it from the late 1800s—that you can stroll and dine in when you need a break from the beach.

So while there are the usual sun and fun opportunities by the water, including island excursions and water sports, Mazatlan is also a city where you can explore blocks of buildings that go back to the Gold Rush days and visit shops selling more than jewelry and cheap souvenirs. Last, you can explore it all by pulmonia, the unique Mazatlan taxis that are Volkswagens converted to covered open-air buggies.

Angela Peralta Theater

This pride and joy of the historic district of Mazatlan has been through a tumultuous history. Built in the late 1800s, it was named after a famous singer who contracted yellow fever upon traveling here to perform and died. After a period of glory the building served as a movie theater, boxing arena, and eventually an abandoned ruin. Renovated and restored to its former glory, it reopened in 1992. You can tour the neoclassical structure for a nominal fee with a guide or catch a performance at night. Except for big-name concerts, the ticket charges are nearly always a bargain and this is a center for student performances of dance, music, or theater.

An art gallery near the entrance shows off temporary exhibitions by local and international artists. Tours also visit a museum upstairs shows the building in ruins and at different stages of restoration.

Peralta Theater Mazatlan

Location: Calle Carnaval pedestrian walkway between Constitucion and Libertad.

 

Plazuela Machado

Plazuela Machado historic district of Mazatlan in MexicoThe heart of the historic district is this leafy rectangular plaza, with leafy trees and palm trees both in place, many buildings painted bright colors. It is lined by restaurants, shops, and museums, plus the Angela Perlata theater is nearby, making this a good place to linger from lunch time onward. Built in 1837 by the wealthy businessman it was named after, in the center is a wrought iron gazebo from 1870.

It’s a hub of activity, especially at night when there’s frequently live music coming from stages on the plaza or performers outside the restaurant tables on the sidewalks. By day there are a few small museums worth a visit. It’s easy to walk from here to other central Mazatlan attractions that are on the edge of the historic district, such as the main square, basilica, and central market.

Centro Historico

While this area of Mazatlan has gone through several periods of ascent and decline, a government focus on restoration incentives and sensible zoning laws has resulted in spruced-up buildings that are also functional. The exteriors remain historic, but inside the owners have flexibility in making the (often deteriorated) space work for current needs. So there’s a good range of nightclubs, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and residences. Many buildings in the Old Mazatlan area date from the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the bustling port city was wealthy from shrimp, fish, minerals, and an iron foundry.

The historic sights of Old Mazatlan are concentrated in a rather limited area near the Plazuela Machado, a small, tree-filled square with a wrought-iron kiosk in the center. Nearby is the ornate, neoclassical Teatro Angela Peralta.

Historic district of Mazatlan

On the edge of the historic district are several other spots worth the walk. The late 1800s church here is an oddity in several respects, including Moorish touches and even Stars of David by the door. The main zocolo is not nearly as attractive as Plazuela Machado, but is a good spot for watching how the locals bide their time.

El Faro

The Lighthouse of port city Mazatlan has been shining since 1879, guiding ships coming up the Sea of Cortez. It can be seen 30 nautical miles away. For tourists, the main reason to come here is to see the divers. From a high platform, young men sometimes make daring high dives for assembled crowds for tips.

You can hike up to the lighthouse itself though to take in the view of the port and entering ships—mostly shrimp boats, plus an occasional cruise ship. Because it sits on a high hill, it’s reportedly the highest lighthouse in the Americas, as 523 feet above the high tide line.

Estero Ecological Reserve

This estuary nature park area is quite close to Mazatlan, making it a popular excursion for those who want to explore the coastal wildlife while in the area. Some 270 kinds of birds make their home in this area, which is a mix of streams, mangrove swamps, and beach. You’re sure to see herons, egrets, and other sea birds, as well as smaller ones feeding on this ecosystem.

Most tours spend time motoring through the estuary by boat, stopping at strategic spots where different kinds of birds congregate. It’s an educational trip on local nature, the seafood industry, and coastal wildlife. The tour ends with lunch and time to spend on a deserted beach the group will have to itself.

Zona Dorada (Golden Zone)

A deserted stretch of sand just a few decades ago, the Golden Zone of Mazatlan is now the area where package tourists spend most of their time. Lined with hotels, restaurants, and bars, it pulses with activity from the morning until the wee hours. All the usual water sports are on offer and sailing trips depart to nearby islands.

Golden Zone of Mazatlan

Playa Los Sabalos is the center of the zone and is the best area for swimming, with a surf that is calm most of the time. There are plenty of choices for toes-in-sand dining and drinking, as well as discos that are pumping at night.

Playa las Gaviotas offers more of the same, but has rougher waters and can be more crowded because of the size of the hotels fronting it. You can walk from one to the other along miles of golden sand or catch an open-air taxi called a pulmonia.

Stone Island

This offshore island is a popular excursion stop for cruise ship passengers docking in Mazatlan, but most of the visitors are locals on weekends and it’s not very crowded on non-cruise weekdays. The main reason to visit is to lie on the beach, swim, and eat grilled seafood at a thatched-roof restaurant, but you can also explore the island by horseback or on walking trails. The beach here is a good spot for seashell collecting.

There are two ways to get to Isla de Piedra as it’s known locally. The independent route is to take a pulmonia to the cruise ship port and take the public launch, running every 15 to 30 minutes. Another option is to sign up for a tour that includes some time at Stone Island. Most of them also visit mangrove swamps in a jungle area to spot birds.

Mazatlan Aquarium

This aquarium is a bit of a cobbled-together affair with displays in multiple buildings spread throughout the grounds. It contains more than 300 species of fish, plus crowd pleasers like porpoises, rays, turtles, and sharks. If you pony up extra money, you can swim with those sharks or feed them yourself.

show at the Mazatlan Aquarium

This is a varied attraction for families, with tropical birds doing tricks in an open theater and in another area, trained sea lions jumping and splashing. There are play areas for the kids and a restaurant on site with reasonable prices. You can also tour botanical gardens and a small zoo, the highlight being several aviaries with colorful birds overhead.

Location: Avenida de los Deportes 111, just off Avenida del Mar

Playa Olas Altas

Near historic Old Mazatlan, Olas Atlas beach fronts the original tourist zone. Here a long and wide malecon sidewalk is popular with joggers and in-line skaters moving past the city’s first waterfront hotels, like the Freeman—the first building in town to have an elevator. It’s a pleasant place for a stroll, with a shady cocktail or beer being just across the street.

Olas city beach in Mazatlan

The beach itself isn’t as wide or attractive as the Golden Zone further north, but its proximity to inexpensive hotels and downtown living quarters means it’s often just as busy. This is also one of the best stretches in the area for surfing and boogie boarding, so you can get in on the action yourself or just watch from a beach blanket.

Since a good number of the vacationers in Mazatlan are domestic ones, hotel prices here are more reasonable then many other beach resort areas of Mexico. There are only a few resorts above $200 a night, even in high season. Find the best Mazatlan rates at Bonwi and earn lots of points back that you can use on another vacation later. You can cash in points for a hotel room, rental car, or flight.

The Hotel Zones of Los Cabos, Mexico

Las Ventanas Rosewood luxury resort

Las Ventanas Rosewood luxury resort

If you’re headed to the resort area of Los Cabos in Mexico for the first time, you may not realize what a large, spread-out region this is. Occupying the whole bottom of the Baja Peninsula, it’s a sprawling cement truck parade of hotels, condos, golf courses, and two cities amidst dry desert and cacti.

Los Cabos has the greatest concentration of luxury resorts in Mexico though, with more being added every year, so it’s not a place filled with high-rises that can host 1,000 guests. Here the emphasis is increasingly on the guests who put this place on the map: upscale travelers from Hollywood, Silicon Valley, New York City, and oil country in Texas.  Don’t expect to find great  bargains here just because you’re heading south of the border: everything has to be shipped in or flown in except for seafood. Just getting water requires an expensive desalinization process. You’ll pay $200 an up to play golf because, well, Jack Nicklaus designed the course and…it’s a desert!

Los Cabos Quivira golf course

Here are the geographic options when you book a resort in Los Cabos. Make sure you’ve got a map handy to figure out what’s what.

Cabo San Lucas

This is the busiest part of the region because it’s where the cruise ships dock, where the nightlife is, and where the marina is that leaves on whale-watching trips. This calm bay is one of the few places where you can swim from the beach in this whole area: in most spots the waves are too rough and the undertow is serious.

There is a mix of upscale lodging (like Cabo Azul) here, as well as more budget-friendly options fanning back from the sea.

Le Blanc Los Cabos in the Corridor

The Corridor

The Corridor of Los Cabos was once and long and lonely stretch of desert dotted with a few hotels and golf courses. The cement trucks have been working overtime the past few years though and a new hotel goes up every month or two. Most of the best high-end resorts are here, like Rosewood Las Ventanas, One & Only Palmilla, and The Cape. The latest additions are a new Le Blanc and a new Casa Velas—both luxury all-inclusive resorts.

An all-inclusive or a high credit limit on your card can make a lot of sense here because you’re miles from anything when you arrive. You probably won’t leave the resort much except for adventure excursions.

San Jose del Cabo and the Port/Marina

San Jose del Cabo has long been the sleepy cousin at the other end of the corridor, but it has caught the development bug as well, especially in its marina/port area, where there’s a Secrets Resort and soon a Four Seasons.

Land’s End Los Cabos and North

Los Cabos Land's End waves

Where the Sea of Cortes and the Pacific Ocean meet is the tip of Baja known as Land’s End. Grand Solmar and Pedregal resorts are there, around the corner from the famous arch, and not far from downtown Cabo San Lucas.

Development is stretching north from there, with the Diamante and Quivira golf courses being the centerpieces of major real estate and hotel developments. There’s a Pueblo Bonito resort, a partially opened Grand Solmar Rancho San Lucas, and a Nobu. The further north toward Todos Santos you get, the more isolated the areas become. The idea is to play golf and hang out by the pool, though there are plenty of adventure activities on the wide beaches and among the cacti.

To book your perfect Los Cabos vacation and earn lots of points back you can use for future trips, go to Bonwi.com and rack up the rewards.

 

How to Earn a Second Vacation From Your First Mexico Vacation

Marquis Los Cabos Resort

Marquis Los Cabos Resort

Imagine you travel to a Mexican beach destination like Los Cabos or the Riviera Maya for a long weekend holiday. Then after you’re done, you’ve earned enough credits to use for a free flight or hotel stay on your next vacation. Wouldn’t that be nice?

If you’re using Bonwi and paying attention to the point earnings, it’s a whole lot easier than winning a contest. It’s a sure thing in fact. It’s next to impossible to get a free flight or hotel room so easily with regular reward programs, but here you know in advance what you’re getting.

Los Cabos Hotel Points Paybacks

Let’s take a look at Los Cabos and see what you could get during a three-day weekend vacation in December.

Points back for Los Cabos Resorts

If you book either of the two all-inclusive resorts pictured there—Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach or Marquis Los Cabos—you would earn more than 31,000 points for your long weekend stay. What could you get for that number of points? A round-trip flight costing $310, a name brand gift certificate worth $310, or an even higher value many times by booking another hotel.

Hotel Point Paybacks in the Riviera Maya

I plugged in the same December dates for the Riviera Maya and look what you would earn from Grand Residences in Puerto Morelos or the brand new Andaz Mayakoba. You’d get more than 36K from one and 41K from the other.

hotel loyalty point rewards Riviera Maya

If you do the math, you’re basically getting a rebate of 20% or more on what you’re spending. That’s several times the amount you get from any traditional loyalty program.

Again that’s enough for a round-trip flight to many locations. Maybe even Cancun again! You just convert the points at a penny a mile so you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.

Or the payback would make for a huge Christmas present for someone by way of a gift card. The other option is to use it for more hotel stays. Let’s say you decided to go to Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta next time on vacation. If you signed into Bonwi and checked what you could get for your points total, you’d see dozens of hotels where your point total would get you a free three-nights’ stay. You would have to go down a star level or two at the beach, but in some interior cities you wouldn’t even have to do that.

We’re using Mexico as an example because when it’s cold up north, a lot of people head that direction. You could just as easily use it for a ski vacation though, or to just stay cozy inside with your new surround-sound system you bought with your Best Buy gift card. We won’t judge–just enjoy!

Find great hotel deals and the highest rewards for Los Cabos and the Riviera Maya.

Los Cabos: What’s New in this Popular Mexican Resort?

Wild Cabo Tours takes visitors up close to the famous "El Arco" in Cabo St. Lucas.
Wild Cabo Tours takes visitors up close to the famous "El Arco" in Cabo St. Lucas.
Wild Cabo Tours takes visitors up close to the famous “El Arco” in Cabo St. Lucas.

Apart from being among the world’s best destinations for beaches and scuba diving, Los Cabos also has a whole smorgasbord of offerings that makes it one of Mexico’s top five vacation spots.

The Luxury Avenue Boutique Mall is located in the Cabo San Lucas region of Los Cabos. This shopping center is a step ahead of the competition because of its commitment to housing some of the most prestigious brands in the world. From jewelry and stylish bags to trendy shoes and sunglasses, the Luxury Avenue Boutique Mall in Los Cabos is an absolute treasure chest for high end shoppers!

If you’re interested in seeing all the scenic spots in Los Cabos in a way you never have before, take a dirt bike tour with Baja Dirt. This dirt bike tour company offers tourists a unique sightseeing opportunity in the beautiful and challenging terrain of Los Cabos. Come see mountains, abandoned gold mines, sand dunes, and ghost towns on an incredible dirt bike tour of Los Cabos with Baja Dirt!

Get out in to the sagebrush and desert of Baja California with Baja Dirt motorcycle tours.
Get out in to the sagebrush and desert of Baja California with Baja Dirt motorcycle tours.

If you’re not a big fan of dirt bikes, try a Wild Cabo Tour on for size. Wild Cabo Tours take tourists on a variety of different boat tours around scenic Los Cabos waters. The pirate-themed Cabo Legend Tours take place aboard a massive wooden ship and offer great family fun and entertainment. Cabo Escape Tours take tourists on a double-deck catamaran to see the beauty of Los Cabos and can include various activities such as whale watching and snorkeling.

The Buccaneer Queen Tours feature a replica pirate ship that had a part in the 1995 film “Cutthroat Island” and takes tourists around various popular historical and scenic spots around Los Cabos, including the famous Arch of Cabo San Lucas!

There are so many different restaurants to try in Los Cabos that you could fill an encyclopedia with all of the municipality’s eateries. Chefs Omar Laguna Angel Carbajal of the Fat Tuna Restaurant will send your taste buds to another dimension with unusual but tasty dishes that involve Mediterranean cooking techniques. La Deriva Restaurant is yet another one of Chef Emanuele Olivero’s masterpieces that feature jaw-dropping views of the sky and the Sea of Cortes. The Stop Light Restaurant offers some incredibly affordable, enjoyable, and comfortable dining experiences in its polished wood and red brick atmosphere serving everything from fajitas and enchiladas to ice cream with peaches.

The Stop Light Restaurant offers some incredibly affordable, enjoyable, and comfortable dining experiences in its polished wood and red brick atmosphere serving everything from fajitas and enchiladas to ice cream with peaches.

While planning your trip to Los Cabos, consider staying in one of these beautiful hotels. The One and Only Palmilla sits looking out on the Sea of Cortes and gives its guests beachfront access to one of Los Cabos’s few swimmable beaches. The Cape, A Thompson Hotel also offers beach views, as well as two pools, a rooftop lounge, spa cabanas, and a fun urban night vibe!

Find these and many more Los Cabos Hotels on Bonwi.com.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: One of Mexico’s Best Resort Cities

The Thriller, a crazy fast speedboat that takes tourists on a tour near Puerto Vallarta.
Majahuitas beach, near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Majahuitas beach, near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

On the Pacific coast of Mexico lies the beautiful resort town of Puerto Vallarta, long known for its unique water spots, beaches, and nightlife scene. Enjoy a Puerto Vallarta vacation this summer with these fun attractions and experiences!

Vallarta Food Tours have been offering tours of Puerto Vallarta’s delectable food scene since 2011, and the company recently launched a “Bikes & Bites” tour. This bicycle-involved food expedition gives tourists a chance to experience the many flavors of Puerto Vallarta on a three-and-a-half hour excursion through the famous Mexican city. With prices starting at $55 for eight tastings, this “Bikes & Bites” tour is a necessary to-do in Puerto Vallarta. Vallarta Food Tours  offer a variety of different food excursions, one of which was experienced by GoNomad’s own Cindy Bigras. Read the story.

If you like to live life on the wild side or are interested in seeing the amazing natural beauty of Puerto Vallarta’s water scene, then try the Luxury Yacht and Snorkel on for size. Tourists will get to see the majestic mountains and the vibrant jungle, as well as some extravagant mansions on a gorgeous cruise excursion along the coastline of Puerto Vallarta.

Following the cruise is a snorkeling trip to Majahuitas, an absolutely beautiful and remote white-sand beach where tourists can snorkel, paddle board, and kayak in calm waters: A truly tranquil encounter of Puerto Vallarta’s natural wonders!

The Thriller, a crazy fast speedboat that takes tourists on a tour near Puerto Vallarta.
The Thriller, a crazy fast speedboat that takes tourists on a tour near Puerto Vallarta.

Have even more fun on the water with “Ocean Mania,” a five-hour trip with great water activities. Tourists begin the adventure by riding on the jet boat Thriller, an inflatable speedboat that is mind-bendingly fast, to a secluded ocean cove.

Once arrived at the cove, tourists can jump into the ocean via zip line, a waterslide, or catapulting off of “The Blob.” Other activities include the “Step-Up obstacle,” on which you can try to conquer your fear of heights, and hanging out with sea lions.

Whenever you decide to come to Puerto Vallarta, book a stay in one of these new hotels:

The Hacienda Buenaventura Hotel & Mexican Charm is one of the best values among Puerto Vallarta hotels. With authentic Mexican cuisine, a spa, a heated pool, a kids club & babysitting, and tons of other amenities, it’s clear why the Hacienda Buenaventura Hotel & Mexican Charm is rated so highly. Don’t forget, this resort offers an all-inclusive option.

Also offering optional all-inclusive stays is the Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta. This resort is in the lap of luxury located within a lush tropical jungle on the beach, a truly beautiful lodging spot. With fully stocked rooms, some the size of large apartments, you’ll feel at home at this state-of-the-art resort.  Use Bonwi points and save on staying in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.