Mexico City’s version of the Hyatt Regency, housed in a 38-story high rise next door to a similarly composed Intercontinental, with a JW Marriott just down the block, is unlikely to figure in the typical tourist’s “Mexico City experience.” It provides none of that old-world feel you’d get from a hotel in the Centro Historico, or the new-world sophistication on offer from a boutique hotel in the Roma Norte neighborhood. It’s too similar not only to its neighbors, but to other large, upscale, business-oriented hotels around the world to distinguish itself as in any way authentically Mexican. In a past life, actually, this building housed a Japanese-inflected hotel, and traces of its style remain in both the décor and one restaurant (the one I didn’t try). But these touches are filtered through a corporate sensibility, and anyway who wants to travel to Mexico for some Japanese flair.
At first glance, in fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone not in Mexico City on business choosing to stay here. The hotel is gargantuan, the lobby reminiscent of a particularly tricked-out airport terminal. Even with eight or so elevators, the wait for one can stretch on and on. Given that guests occupy many of the 755 rooms on any given day, no one on staff will remember who you are. Which is fine—I enjoy anonymity.
That said, the Hyatt Regency can make for a comfortable, convenient base for a certain kind of touristic visit to the sprawling metropolis. The splendid National Anthropology Museum sits a short walk away, as does the Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City’s answer to Central Park. The surrounding and tony Polanco neighborhood will not fulfill fantasies of crumbling colonial facades and mariachi music, but it boasts some of the best restaurants in the city (if not the world), and it’s here that you get to see how Mexico’s one percent live.
When I arrived to the hotel, my boyfriend had already been occupying our room for three days. He was on a work trip that had him in meetings and lunches and dinners for upwards of 14 hours a day, leaving little time for personal details like folding clothes or picking socks up from the floor. His schedule highlighted the heroism of the cleaning staff at the Hyatt Regency, which was more than up to the task.
There’s nothing remarkable about the rooms; they’re exactly as functional and just as generally beige as business travelers require of a hotel in this class. Ours was on the 25th floor, giving us great views over the city, especially the one morning we made it up for sunrise. The bed was delicious, the double curtains incredibly handy, and the desk big enough and comfortable enough to actually work at. A chaise lounge next to the window further helped us to take advantage of the view.
The room was not without its minor irritations. It took a whole day to figure out how to turn the bedside lamps on and off, for example. The TV was finicky about turning on and off. There was only one hook in the bathroom. Coffeemate, rather than half-and-half, accompanied the in-room coffee. Requisite re-registering for the wifi every 12 hours was a pain. Minor drawbacks all, common to large-scale hotels.
Other amenities included what I was given to understand were fairly exceptional business facilities. I used the indoor pool once, which was nice, but awkwardly placed in full view from the rows of cardio equipment in the gym. (I always prefer an outdoor pool if it makes any sense for the climate, which is the case here.) The gym was an social experience of sorts—try counting the Type A personalities as you negotiate the elliptical machines. You’ll be occupied for the duration of your workout.
The restaurant in the lobby of the hotel—named Rulfo—provided the only Mexican food I ate in Mexico City, where at the higher end Italian and French and a sort of creative global cuisine tend to dominate. People swooned over the fish tacos in particular. The cocktails, though, were generally way too sweet for my taste. I ordered room service a couple of times, guacamole, a quesadilla and a tortilla soup. All were reasonably priced, for room service, and satisfying.
Because of my boyfriend’s long work hours, I spent most evenings eating alone in one restaurant or other. The one evening we were able to hang out, we wanted to try a pulqueria—a bar serving the traditional Aztec beverage pulque. The concierge led us well, sending us not to a slick version for tourists, but to one in the Roma neighborhood. It was hip but rough around the edges, something like the East Village circa 1997. He had read us correctly in making his recommendation.
By the last night, I’d run out of energy for public solitude and ordered my dinner up to the room. I ate it in the wonderful bed as I flipped through the many English-language channels available on the television. I could have been anywhere, it’s true, but I was enveloped in well-being nonetheless.