Great Stays: The St. Regis Mexico City
Some American travelers experience a certain level of trepidation when thinking about travel to Mexico. Beyond the usual resorts like Cancun and Cozumel, the rest of the country can feel like unknown territory. Television news stories of drug cartels and kidnappings haven’t helped reassure travelers. I received plenty of concerned looks from strangers and my own teenage son when sharing news of an upcoming trip to Mexico City. And while I appreciated their concern and desire not to see my face on the front page of the New York Times, I can report after five days in this incredible city, that I would return in a heartbeat, with son and husband in tow.
Traveling to Mexico City feels more like visiting a cosmopolitan, culture-rich European city (with no jet lag, and a blissfully short 3-hour travel time from my home base in Atlanta) than like the tourist-centric resorts Mexico is more often known for. Gay couples openly hold hands on the street, fashionable types in black leather and sky-high heels duck into trendy shops and restaurants; luxury chains and car dealerships dot the chic Polanco and hipster-thick Condesa neighborhoods and an incredible array of street art and sculpture demonstrate locals’ high regard for weaving art into daily life. Don't even get me started on the incredible food, which you can read about in my story on the 10 Best Things to Eat and Drink in Mexico City.
At the luxurious St. Regis Mexico City you get a little bit of two worlds, both luxurious and dynamic. The hotel's location is close to some of Mexico City’s most interesting neighborhoods and the staff rightly describes this soothing, service-centric oasis as a resort within the city. With an in-house Remede spa and one floor given over to an array of health club offerings, including a juice bar, weight room, swimming pool and Kinesis and Pilates studios this is the kind of amenity-rich location that can make it tempting to hole up like a pampered rock-star-in-recovery and just treat mind and body to some amazing food and spa treatments. Instead, I’d recommend treating the St. Regis as a luxurious launching pad, a place to begin and end your day in extreme, goose-down buffered comfort, before venturing out to your next adventure beyond its shimmering glass walls.
Following are some of the don’t miss features of this 189–room skyscraper where Sky Yoga takes place on the hotel’s rooftop helipad and stunning city views make you feel at the center of all the action in one of Central America’s most vibrant, fun-packed cities.
Paseo de la Reforma 439, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, Mexico City
The hotel is located on the city’s iconic thoroughfare the Paseo de la Reforma, a promenade of grand sculpture and architecture that invites comparisons to Paris. A streetsweeper armed with a solitary broom tends the roundabouts on the street with a zen-like efficiency and the many traffic circles on this posh avenue are their own meccas of fascinating street life, filled with canoodling young couples and skateboarding kids. The roundabout outside the St. Regis boasts a fountain crested with a bronze sculpture of Diana the Huntress that was a cause celebre upon its unveiling in 1942 for the model’s very contemporary, Beyonce curves.
A glass of bubbly or water let you know right away—if the white gloved, top-hatted valets didn’t clue you in—that your escapist immersion in comfort has begun. The same check-in experience extends to small fry who every night can find an assortment of candies decanted in Willy Wonka-evocative glass jars for their own winding down (or up) treat after a day of sightseeing and pavement pounding.
For the Younger Set
If the candy bar set up nightly at reception featuring classics like gummy bears, M&Ms and Mexican delicacies isn’t enough to woo them, the hotel offers in-room camping adventures where tents can be pitched in parents’ rooms; a play area on the hotel’s 15th-floor promises even more in-house fun. You can even have a date at one of the hotel restaurants and children’s club staff will mind your child. Toddlers 2-4 receive complimentary Bentleys upon request so they can tool-around like mini-moguls. Teens can take classes on cookie-baking and pizza-making at J&G Grill.
The St. Regis brand is, of course, synonymous with understated luxury. In keeping with that tradition, the St. Regis Mexico City offers the expected amenities like a personal butler service. My butler arrived each morning with my go-to English Breakfast tea and soy milk, but persuaded me to switch it up with the hotel’s signature tea, a break from my own lockstep habits I appreciated. It’s hard to beat the butler service for making you feel pampered from the get-go. Your butler will pack and unpack for you, press up to two items per guest daily, deliver breakfast, even run out for the things you forgot to pack. I bought a gorgeous woven blanket and my butler made sure it was laundered and ready to pack up for the trip home by the next day.
Now I am well-aware that a hotel at this level is going to treat its guests like beloved, pampered children. Part of the pleasure of a high-end hotel is reverting to a slightly infantile state where every need is anticipated and your well-being seems absolutely essential for the smooth functioning of the universe. But service at this St. Regis is not only top notch, it’s delivered with a degree of warmth and authenticity that may reflect more the genuine hospitality and humanity of the country as a whole, as much as it speaks to the training and hiring practices of this particular location.
Eat This/Drink That
Definitely have at least one cocktail in the King Cole Bar on the hotel’s atrium level, graced by a sublime surrealist mural by Mexican artist Pablo Weisz Carrington that will leave your head swimming if the cocktails don’t. If you’re longing for an al fresco pause that refreshes, the outdoor bar offers dramatic views of the city’s twinkling skyline. Delicious, distinctive cocktail offerings include an impressive array of local craft beers and a signature ginger margarita. Pair your margarita with J&G Grill's rightfully famous avocado pizza or the addictive international comfort food of salmon sashimi with chipotle mayo and crispy rice and grab a table by the window to watch the crowds go by.
I am not ordinarily a Bloody Mary fan, but I have changed my tune after sampling the St. Regis Mexico City’s version of this signature drink, the Sangrita Maria, infused with the hyper-local spirit mezcal and a delicious chile pasilla puree. Even if cocktails aren’t your thing, ask for a virgin version: I savored mine, sipping a little each morning at breakfast from the carafe left in my room. The flavor is that good.
1/4 ounce chile pasilla puree*
1/2 ounce premium mezcal
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch salt
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
5 dashes Maggi Seasoning sauce
1/2 ounce lemon juice
8 1/2 ounces cold tomato juice
1 lemon wedge for garnish
*For chile pasilla puree, blend a pasilla pepper with a little water. Mix all of the ingredients in a tall 12 ounce glass rimmed with agave salt. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
Want a unique break from the wonderful street food and the many delicious food options in Mexico City? You won’t regret the exceptional 11-course French meal on offer at the St. Regis’s private La Table Krug dining room, prepared by in-house chef Sylvain Desbois. A fascinating blend of French sophistication and curiosity, Desbois led a a group of journalists on a tour through one of Mexico City’s higher-end gourmet destinations, the San Juan Market, where an array of fresh seafood, edible flowers and one incredible stand dedicated to an array of specialty cheeses made this the Dean+Deluca of Mexico City markets. Desbois noted that St. Regis chefs often source ingredients at the market to bring an array of local products to guests. It's clear that this classically-trained chef with some serious haute cuisine chops draws a great deal of inspiration from the regional foodways, even as his Krug meal highlighted the incredible technique and perfectionism of French cuisine.
A special slice of foodie heaven, expect the incredible cheese, butter, bread and decadent sauces of a proper French meal, as well as a menu that changes weekly. The ritual for just 12 people unfolds at a $45,000 communal table in a jewel box room bustling with a team of hyper-efficient waiters and regular tableside visits from Desbois who deconstructs each course. Every possible detail has been thought-through including the special music chosen to pair with each new course. The meal culminated with a remarkable chocolate dessert presented on a bed of dry ice that unfolded like a Las Vegas spectacle; chocolate sauce poured onto its surface melted the chocolate shell, revealing more sweets inside. Just when it seemed like the culinary climax had been reached, a candy “tree” in the Krug lobby featured miniature macarons and chocolates packed by waiters into St. Regis boxes.
The gift shop on the hotel’s ground floor (a great place to people watch as the city’s well-dressed elite and a succession of businessmen and beautifully turned out tourists pass by) has the usual toiletries and necessities you left sitting on your bathroom counter at home. But I loved the leather goods from Mexican designer Pineda Covalin including an oversized European wallet to corral all of my documents, something I'd been on the hunt for for the past year. Also right across the traffic circle is a higher-end version of the chain liquor store La Europea where you can pick up almost any international spirit or load up on liquid souvenirs of your trip: mezcal, or the wonderful local Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile liqueur.
Spectacular fresh flower arrangements from local purveyor Floristique are changed out three-times weekly to keep the public areas of the hotel beautiful and fragrant.
Guests with a thirst for mixology can now learn from the city’s top bartenders and in-house mixologist Omar Hamud during St. Regis’s monthly classes held in the King Cole Bar.
You’ll be in good company at the St. Regis Mexico City: Bono, Madonna, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci, Daniel Craig, Gerard Butler, Sofia Vergara and Colin Farrell have all stayed at the hotel.
Editor's Note: If you are concerned about travel to Mexico or any other country, check in regularly at the State Department's website.