We are accustomed to staying in hotels when we travel in Mexico. Back in the 1980's, we tried staying in B&Bs in the U.S. and a couple in Mexico, but with a few exceptions, they didn't suit our style. (That might be the subject of another post.)
About a year ago we became aware of AirBnB.com, a service which brings together travelers and hosts in private homes or apartments. I was browsing its listings for Mexico City and was struck by an unusually attractive house in Colonia San Miguel Chapultepec. The guests' reviews were laudatory, without exception. We met a Canadian woman who had actually stayed there. She had enjoyed her stay but did comment that the selection of restaurants nearby was thin. I had a few doubts about its location a few miles west of our usual haunts of Colonia Roma Norte and Condesa. Despite that, we decided to book it to give us a new area of Mexico City to explore.
AirBnB plays its cards close to its chest. We knew the general area in which the house is located, but we weren't given the exact address nor the email address of the hosts until we had booked and prepaid. Prospective guests can communicate with tentative hosts through AirBnB. You can see the general area in the map below.
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The owner/hosts, Francisco and his wife, María Jose are busy professional people, so we didn't have a lot of interaction with them during our 5 night stay. But when we did, they were cordial and helpful. The linchpin of the Great House is the housekeeper, Sra. Yolanda, who greeted us and who works tirelessly to ensure guests' comfort and that all is running smoothly.
There are also two to three dogs, the most notable is Maya, a huge, docile and sleepy St. Bernard.
Some practical aspects of our stay.
The house is located in a small upscale barrio of narrow streets with homes of attractive exteriors that reveal little of what's inside. There are also a few more modern apartment and condo buildings. The barrio is bounded by busy avenues, of which the one a couple of blocks to the east is a rather deteriorated commercial strip. The western boundary avenue is along an attractive park.
Shopping, including an average bakery, farmacias and a large, modern supermarket, as well as banks and ATMs are within a 5 minute walk from the house.
|Typical street in el barrio
Buses, (did not use); taxis, walking, and MetroBus were our principal modes of transport. There are Metro (underground) stations six to eight blocks away. We did not use the underground Metro.
There is a large metal gate to the front parking area, followed by a foyer into the interior. Immediately to the right is a set of stairs to the bedroom level and upstairs, a reading lounge or small living room with a large window overlooking the parking area.
Immediately to the left, is a very large, contemporary styled dining room and an open kitchen.
|Paco reviewing the security detail
Our bedroom was the larger of two available to guests. It was reasonably spacious and furnished with a cama matrimonial, a solid desk with working drawers, a small sofa bench, a three section armoire, and a larger screen tv with Sky services, although we never could figure out how to navigate it, even with help from Francisco.
A specially nice touch was a small refrigerator and a microwave oven. These could be very useful, but we preferred to snack and heat food in the main kitchen one floor below.
There is a ceiling fan in the bedroom, which we used a lot. The bed was reasonably comfortable, although I would have preferred a queen size or two beds. However, there really isn't room for that.
Lighting was more than adequate, and with a little creativity, I found enough outlets in which to charge my electrical devices.
Noise levels were very low when our bedroom window facing above the patio was closed, and very little street noise came in. However, there is a nursery school or day care center close by, and some sounds occasionally came in during the day.
There was intermittent noise from jet planes flying overhead, especially noticeable at some hours of the night. That can be mitigated by wearing earplugs,
Our bathroom was very close to our bedroom. It was small but more than adequate. It was well supplied with soaps and shampoos, and Yolanda brought us a stack of fresh towels daily.
Hot water in the shower took a couple of minutes to arrive, but then it was o.k.
We had the bathroom to ourselves the first four nights, and shared with two other guests the fifth night. It was easy to work around this on a short term basis.
The wifi signal was strong and available in all areas of the house where I connected. It was a real pleasure to use.
Breakfast is included in the price. Breakfasts were cold cereal, toast, jam, butter, sweet bread, yogurt, cut fresh fruit, orange juice, coffee or tea. There was a wide selection of tea. One morning we were treated to Tamales Oaxaqueños.
The breakfasts were fresh and wholesome, although I would have like some protein foods, but I never got around to requesting them. Even hard cooked eggs or a couple of slices of cheese would have been welcome sustenance.
The nearest restaurant is La Poblanita de Tacubaya, a traditional Mexican restaurant with an extensive menu. I'll review it later.
There are a couple or more pizza places, mostly chains, but one charming and unique spot, to be reviewed later. There are coffee shops and comedores económicos, but we didn't eat at any.
There is also "El Matador", a grilled meat restaurant, which we did not try.
Most of the local street food stands along a major avenue didn't appeal to me, but one morning I did buy a couple of deep fried empanadas, which were hot, a little salty, but good.
Summing it all up; we enjoyed our stay, the house was spacious yet secure, we were welcome to use the kitchen as we wished, we felt "at home"; the barrio was not as convenient to our usual favorite areas of the city, but we learned to use the MetroBus and came to enjoy it. Our hosts, including Sra. Yolanda were genial. It's a good option for visitors who wish more space in their accommodation and relative tranquility.