Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F.: Within Walking Distance See some of the best the city has to offer with these seven tips for exploring—all near the Hotel.
1/7 One of the most wonderful occurrences in Mexico City takes place right outside Four Seasons Hotel México City, D.F. Every Sunday along one of the city’s main thoroughfares, the Paseo de la Reforma traffic stops. The three-mile (5-km) section between Chapultepec Park to the Zócalo is closed to cars for six hours between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, giving cyclists and pedestrians free rein and providing visitors with a great opportunity to see this section of the city on foot. Bikes can be rented by the half hour at any Eco-Bici stand (the bicycle equivalent of Zipcar). As part of the D.F.’s 15-year Plan Verde, the city hopes bike use will take off, reducing the strain on the public transport system. The plan has been successful in cities such as Paris, and judging from the presence of Eco-Bicyclists on neighbourhood streets and in parks, proponents of the plan have good reason to be optimistic.
Photography Wendy Connett/Alamy
2/7 A 10-minute walk (or a 1-minute taxi ride) on the Reforma is one of the world’s great urban parks, the Bosque de Chapultepec, arguably the city’s greatest treasure and refuge. At some 1,500 acres (624 hectares), Chapultepec is nearly twice the size of New York’s Central Park. There are running circuits and miles of paths for walking. A cultural focal point for the city as well, Chapultepec is home to the fortress-like National Museum of Anthropology with its interior courtyard and towering waterfall, the Museum of Modern Art, the sleek Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Chapultepec Zoo.
Photography courtesy Ellen McCurtin
3/7 Architecture fans will not want to miss a tour of Luis Barragán’s 1947 house on the Calle de General Francisco Ramírez in the Tacubaya neighbourhood, just a 10-minute taxi ride from the Hotel. The architect lived there until his death in 1988, and the house remains furnished as he left it. A bit more off the beaten path but worth a trip is the spare, ethereal Convento de las Capuchinas Sacramentarias in Tlalpan, Mexico City (about 25 minutes by car from the Hotel), which Barragán redesigned in 1955. Tours at both are given by appointment and can be arranged by the Concierge.
Photography John Mitchell/Alamy
4/7 Another must-see for architecture aficionados is Ricardo Legorreta’s bold yellow Camino Real on the Reforma. The dramatically designed public spaces buzz with activity all day, and it is a great spot in the evening for a drink at the nearby Blue Lounge. A highlight here is the sprawling mural, painted by Rufino Tamayo, in the Café Tamayo. It’s a good spot for people-watching.
5/7 Tiffany fans will not want to miss the exquisite stained-glass curtain at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The Palacio itself is a stunning example of Art Nouveau architecture clad in Carrara marble. It is home to Diego Rivera’s recreation of a mural originally commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller in the early 1930s. Rockefeller objected to what he felt were Communist overtones and had the work destroyed. The first work was called Man at the Crossroads; the recreation was renamed Man, Controller of the Universe, and includes images of Lenin and Trotsky. The Palacio is also home to the Ballet Folklórico de México, which performs there three times weekly.
Photography Cathy Melloan/Alamy
6/7 A contrast to the wide boulevards of the business district, the busy Zona Rosa and the grand Polanco are the small, tree-lined streets and parks in the sister Condesa and Roma neighbourhoods, less than a 10-minute drive from the Hotel. The area is lovely at all times of day, but particularly recommended in the evenings for dinner (one can find everything from sushi to churrasco) and a stroll past its lower-rise, Art Deco apartments and colonial mansions, mixed with sleek contemporary buildings. Associated with movie stars in the 1930s and ’40s, the elegant colonias, like the rest of the city, were heavily damaged by the massive earthquake that struck the city in 1985. As the area recovered, the area became a magnet for artists who took up residence and began to rebuild. Today charming cafes ring the parks and line the streets, attracting leisurely crowds on weekend mornings and inviting lingering late into the evenings. The area is highly social and wonderfully diverse and dog-friendly as well, so expect to see canines of all breeds socializing in improvised dog runs and playing in the fountains in warm weather.
Photography Keith Dannemiller/Alamy
7/7 For a perfect tour of this sophisticated bohemian area, stroll the Avenida Amsterdam, a cobblestone sidewalk that forms a ring around the Parque Mexico. Once used as a track for horse racing, the tree-shaded loop, approximately one mile (1.6 km) long and punctuated at roundabouts with fountains, showcases the neighbourhood’s past and present glamour. Striking modern buildings stand side by side with vine-covered stucco mansions. From the ritual sweeping of the paths every morning by the city’s street cleaners, using old-fashioned twig brooms, to the late-night dog walkers, walking the Avenida Amsterdam is a snapshot of Condesa’s daily, colourful life.
Photography courtesy Ellen McCurtin
Mexico City may be big, with 8.8 million people, but it is also a charming, elegant city with sophisticated architecture and art collections, verdant parks, and an immaculate metro system. Most people see only the inside of the airport en route to beach vacation spots, but this city offers a wealth of cultural experiences, and one does not have to look far to find oases of green and calm amidst the urban bustle. Plan Your Visit
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Four Seasons Magazine
The best of luxury travel, style and culture from thought leaders and tastemakers
Issue 3 2014