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Mexico City: Hotel Calinda Geneve

LONDRES 130, Col. Juarez, Phone: 55.5080.0800

Reviewed by: janie&geoff from Canada, review #1299

When: 2005

A charming Colonial style hotel in a great neighborhood, the Zona Rosa district. This hotel is an antidote to Best Westerns and Holiday Inns. {3 stars}

If you're the type to take local ambiance over luxurious glitz, you will really like this hotel. We first stayed here while on business in Mexico City, and it totally changed our preconceptions of what Mexico City would be like. My husband was last there in July 2005 and when his Mexican business associates (who were staying out at the airport) saw this hotel, they checked out of their Holiday Inn and moved into the Calinda Geneve!

Built in 1906, the Calinda Geneve is charming, with old-fashioned high-ceilinged rooms, plastered walls, and hardwood floors. The bathrooms are updated and large, and while they are not the glitzy marble and stainless of a Westin, everything works. Hotel furniture is of the dark, carved wood variety that evokes the Colonial era. Cable TV (CNN) is available.

There is a nice lobby and the most fascinating item is a display cabinet with a guestbook from the year the hotel opened -- you can read the signatures, addresses and dates of the first guests. From all over the US, Europe, even Australia. Obviously Mexico City was a cosmopolitan and favored destination.

The lobby bar fills up after 5 pm with local business people, and a piano player. The drink to have is the margarita; real Mexican style with chipped ice, not blended to a froth. There is also a pharmacy/gift shop adjoining the lobby area, very handy for those of us who always forget a toothbrush or hairspray.

The dining room serves a combination of North American and Mexican dishes, which we enjoyed. However, the Zona Rosa district is one big restaurant area and it's far better to stroll around outside and find a place to eat.

Best things about the hotel:

. Vincente the taxi driver: like many other hotels, the Calinda Geneve runs a fleet of house taxis. This is because you don't just hop into any cab in Mexico City. The rates are very reasonable, and you can ask your cab driver to come and pick you up or book him for a specified trip. You can also hire one for a day -- one day we hired our favorite driver Vincente to take us out to the pyramids at Teotihuacan, 50 miles outside Mexico City. Vincente is also a registered tour guide, so we got the whole educational experience as well as the ride, for around $100 CAD/$75 US.

. The Location: The Zona Rosa is touristy, no doubt about it, but the locals shop there, too. Almost directly across the road from the hotel is the Insurgentes Market, a bazaar type shopping center where you can buy pottery, great jewellry, all sorts of souvenirs. The restaurant scene here is noisy, busy and fun. The Zona Rosa is heavily patrolled by the Tourism Police (no kidding, there are about 10 varieties of police in Mexico City and the TP wear dapper navy uniforms and all speak English), and at no time did I feel unsafe at night in this area.

. The Price: $85 - 150/night for a unique hotel in a great city location that is a 3 or 5 star depending on what reviews you read. By North American standards I'd say it's 3.5 stars with extra points for charm.

Telephone numbers: USA (1 877) 657 57 99 / CANADA (1 877) 609 69 40 e-mail: reservas@calinda.com.mx

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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