The stylish Hotel Carlota anchors an up-and-coming design district of Mexico City.
In the lively (and lesser-known to tourists) Colonia Juárez neighborhood of Mexico City, the Hotel Carlota, which opened in June 2015, is a temple to high design.
Built by the prestigious local firm JSa Arquitectura and “art-directed” by Cadena & Asociados, Hotel Carlota is a 36-room modernist outpost with a glass-walled swimming pool — a rarity in Mexico City’s boutique hotels — a patio restaurant and a beyond-hip lifestyle boutique, Taxonomia, all of which combine in a see-and-be-seen attraction. Bonus: It’s pet friendly.
From $128 (2,321 pesos)
On a quiet street in Juárez, next to the Paseo de la Reforma, a main thoroughfare, the Carlota is less than a 15-minute walk from Insurgentes, a main metro stop. With an influx of restaurants nearby, the Carlota could become the beacon for a new design-centric district.
The rough-hewed aesthetic of the rooms was thrown into particular relief when we were shown to our suite (I had upgraded at check-in), and it turned out to be a low-ceilinged, but spacious, concrete bunker, whose only window, hidden behind blackout curtains, opened to the corridor and public courtyard. Fearing noise, we asked to be transferred and were moved to a still-sizable standard room on the second floor, with large street-facing windows. (Much better.)
The concrete floor and ceiling were warmed up with striped throw rugs, cozy window benches and a neon-hued, three-dimensional art installation above the blond wood bed. There was a flat-screen TV, a safe and an assortment of free local snacks, though a bottle of water cost 80 pesos (about $4) — a weird choice for a place with notoriously hard-to-stomach water.
All white, with a stone sink whose vintage knobs proved a little hard to turn, and a full-size shower. Maybe because we’d transferred rooms quickly, ours was not quite ready for prime time; there was mold on the shower curtain. There were also no hooks in the bathroom, and the knobless closets outside were empty of hangers, let alone robes. (After a request, the hotel sent up some wire hangers, hardly befitting the room’s fashion-forward vibe.) Standard-issue toiletries were from the New York brand Malin & Goetz.
The hotel lends bikes although, when we grabbed a pair to use during Mexico City’s car-free Sundays, we quickly learned that, in bicycle maintenance, you get what you pay for: One seat fell off completely, midride. (The staff members seemed apologetic when we returned.) The boutique Taxonomia offers the latest in Mexican design, from kitchenware to clothing, and is already a favorite of jet-set shoppers. The jewel box of a pool in the courtyard is lovely though perhaps too much of a fishbowl for some swimmers; it was empty when we were there, but provided just the right backdrop for a fashion shoot one morning.
The Carlota shines in its public spaces, including the lobby-level bar, poolside tables and the restaurant, all partly open to the courtyard. At the helm are the chefs Joaquin Cardoso and Sofía Cortina, whose experiences run from Alain Ducasse to Mexico City’s much-celebrated Pujol. It offers a sophisticated and cool mealtime scene. The menu experiments with modern Mexican cuisine, and our room service breakfast of chilaquiles and baked eggs was delicious and nicely served with several bottles of water. But cutlery was an afterthought, one of several instances where the Carlota delivered on style but underperformed on service.
The Carlota is, above all, a stylish spot to perch; those who prize form over function will relish a stay.