Mexico City
Condesa df

One of Grupo Habita's "Lifestyle Hotels," Condesa df caters to well-to-do, famous, or just über-cool travelers looking for an unusual hotel experience. In the heart of Mexico City's hip La Condesa neighborhood, the triangle-shaped boutique hotel provides a different experience than the high-rises available in the same price range.

Opened in early 2005, Condesa df occupies a Parisian-style edifice from the late 1920s. Originally it housed 12 apartments for wealthy DF couples, many no doubt impressed by the proximity of the daughter of Mexican president Plutarco E. Calle. The Tudor/Venetian-style house across the street was a wedding present from President Calles to his daughter, Hortensia.

Grupo Habita purchased the derelict, pest-infested building in 2001 and spent the next four years on construction and restoration. While the interior was entirely gutted, the building's graceful neoclassic façade was painstakingly restored. Mexican architect Javier Sánchez oversaw the building's renovation. The prominent Mexico City architect has been instrumental in the gentrification of the neighborhood, and examples of his restoration work can be seen elsewhere on Calle Veracruz (Condesa df is located at the corner of Veracruz and Guadalajara Streets) and throughout the trendy Condesa neighborhood, now home to restaurants, galleries, cafés, and bars.

The interior design, including most of the furniture, is the handiwork of award-winning interior and furniture designer India Mahdavi, an Iranian-born architect educated in the United States, now based in Paris. Walls are off-white, with brown, black, and aqua accents. A floral theme expresses itself unobtrusively, from the hard-bodied irises in a vase by the front desk to the upholstery of vintage-style, yellow-green slipper chairs and lampshades in public spaces and guest rooms.

Each white-on-white guest room successfully combines retro and modern design elements to create a space that is simultaneously understated and intimate. Ceilings are high in proportion the snug, square spaces, which feature geometric crown molding and terrazzo floors. Fluffy white duvets add comfort to futon-style beds. The Oaxacan blanket folded at the foot of each was woven of all-natural fibers (no chemical dyes) by the Rodríguez brothers, of the rug-weaving town of Teotitlán del Valle.

Rooms have both cable and Wi-Fi for Internet connectivity. A simple white resin work table is flanked by two super comfortable, stamped leather rocking chairs, designed by Mahdavi and inspired by accoutrements of Mexican charros. On a sleek bedside table rests an iPod filled with a selection of chill tunes, and smallish flat screen TV/DVD players are mounted to the wall.

In the bath, the white porcelain "bishop" sinks were cast in France, and the brushed metal fixtures are by Dornbracht. The rain shower showerhead is fortunately "tropical downpour" strength.

While guest rooms are designed for comfort and intimacy, the rooftop bar/sushi restaurant and popular ground floor dining room invite locals to this neighborhood icon. There the retro-modern-chic design elements are playful yet understated. Opening onto the triangle-shaped patio café on the ground floor are private rooms whose comfortable furnishings and pleasant lighting make them equally appropriate for a baby shower or a board meeting.

Even if you don't stay here on your next visit to Mexico City, you can check out the architecture and interior design as you mingle with hip defeńos in one of these public spaces. Maybe the hotel dog, Conde (whose name means "Count," the male version of Condesa, for which both the neighborhood and hotel are named) will wander through the downstairs café. The placid chocolate lab adds an air of familiarity and hominess not found in more formal, upscale accommodations.

Grupo Habita's managing partner, Rafael Micha, describes the hotel as "a feminine, organic, laid-back, almost home-like hotel." We certainly agree.

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