Let me first start off by saying Mexico City is an explosion.
An explosion of culture, beauty and eccentricity. A visual and visceral feast. I’m a little shocked it took me so long to visit. I guess I’ve been always drawn to smaller more remote towns, beach side or otherwise. I had my assumptions about the city: it would be too hot, too dirty, too dangerous and simply, too overwhelming to enjoy. I was wrong. Mexico City is like what I envision Buenos Aires to be, a mix of European cobblestone streets and cafes but, with an exotic twist - as the streets are bursting with wild nature.
My favourite elements combined.
Mexico City is having a moment. I happen to also go during the Zona Maco which is one of Latin America’s most important Art Fairs. I stayed in the area of Condessa, and just so you're familiar with the city, there are four main districts which most tourist frequent or stay. Condesa, Roma Norte, Polanco and Centro Historico. The safety outside of these districts dramatically decreases and levels of poverty increase, but Mexico City is huge (one of the largest cities per-capita in the world) so it comes with the territory too. I ended up staying in the most beautiful (and affordable) AirBnb in Condessa. A very safe, beautiful and hip area, with many cafes and stores within walking distance. In regards to getting everywhere, Uber is very cheap. This is amazing as you don’t have to overthink about the logistics of going anywhere. Except try your best to avoid peak periods as the traffic can be a tiny nightmare. With that said, let me share some of my favourite places I visited for design inspiration, curiosity or reconnecting with nature.
1.Tetetlan: Casa Pedregal by Luis Barragan
Words cannot describe the beauty and intricacy of this place. Located in Tetetlan, an elegant suburb on the outskirts of the city, Casa Pedegral is worth the $10 Uber ride. (Do not try to even attempt buses or trains here, a small nightmare) Originally the horse stables of a home designed by Mexico’s most iconic architect, Luis Barragán, the space was recently restored by an art collector who lives next door. It is many things: a café, a showcase for local designers, a restaurant serving creative dishes, a yoga studio all housed beside the most beautiful contemporary home. I was lucky to show up during TEXTO, a global gathering for all textile lovers. Typically there is not a party happening on the prestigious property. I think I just lucked out.
2. Studio IMA
(Roma Norte) By Appointment Only
Studio IMA, is a design studio and gallery in the intimate apartment setting in Roma Norte district. I arrived confused and disoriented as the space was literally in an apartment building (and not the fanciest one either), it kind felt like out of the Matrix (for anyone who knows what I’m talking about). Somewhere between gallery and interdisciplinary interiors studio inspired by the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic meets Mexico’s natural and rustic spirit. Their main goal is to discover, represent and promote high quality furniture, decor objects and art created by both local and international artists and designers. Highly recommend for a short burst of inspiration and understanding of pure design.
3. ZI ROPA
I couldn’t do a list without mentioning at least one beautiful clothing shop and this one is ZI ROPA, my type of brand. ZI ROPA designs flowly, natural linen clothing handmade in Mexico. If we lived in warm temperatures here in Toronto, I would wear their clothing all season long. Their showroom is literally right beside Studio Ima too and in a beautiful Art Deco building. Just buzz your way up and enjoy the building along the way.
4. Neveria Roxy & Lardo
I legit don’t even care for ice cream but Neveria Roxy was DELICIOUS. This old school Gelateria in Condessa was such a nice happy accident to stumble upon - especially when temperatures can get pretty toasty mid-afternoon. *Also - I have no photos, but Lardo is also a must for brunch and very close to Neveria Roxy. Very popular amongst tourist for brunch but they have a sweet little pop-up coffee bar on the side for coffee and pastries “para llevar” too.
5. Bosque de Chapaltepec
If you’re tired of the city and want to be submersed in nature I recommend Bosque de Chapaltepec in Condesa. You’ll need a whole day here because It’s actually huge, but quite easy to navigate. I visited Casa Del Lago and simply enjoyed watching (and feeding) the beautiful birds in the lake. There is also Chapaltepec Castle and the Museo de Anthropologie. The park is filled with so much to explore. A truly beautiful way to spend a day with nature.
6.*Bonus*: Condesa DF HOTEL
No photos here. I was enjoying myself too much to remember to take out my camera, but Condessa DF Hotel is a must-see. Their roof top bar is incredible. With an open air gym, sky top jacuzzi, gorgeous views of Chapaltepec Castle and actually amazing sushi. As a 'pricer' hotel, you're still not even close to breaking the bank, worth to go for a night or happy-hour drinks, while watching the blazing sunset over Mexico city.
Over all Mexico City was perhaps one of the most enjoyable major cities I’ve ever experienced: the food, arts, nature and culture (and affordability) are second to none. The lesson is to ignore what people say about a place and make your own judgement, you’ll probably see the beauty that others tend to overlook.