Mexico City: Andrew’s Thoughts

Filed Under: Travel

In the last two posts of this trip report, our friend Andrew B will be sharing his experience on the trip to Mexico City. Yes, this is the same Andrew who won the trip to Helsinki several years back — we’ve been friends ever since. This whole trip was his idea, so it’s only fitting he write the final installments. Below are his (typically hilarious) thoughts.

I’d been hoping to visit Mexico City for a while. I was a little anxious about the potential diplomatic implications of inflicting my poor Spanish skills upon our neighbors to the south, but when there was a great airfare on American from DC to Mexico City, I couldn’t resist.

My Hotel — The Intercontinental Presidente Mexico City

Usually I pride myself on finding inexpensive places to stay that are still reasonably comfortable. On this trip, however, since I was going to be staying by myself in a country I’d never visited before, I figured I would splurge on a place that would offer a little more pampering than the 3-star options I usually choose.

I had about 60,000 IHG points to spend, which I’d earned from the signup bonus on the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card. The Intercontinental Presidente Mexico City looked lovely, and I figured it was time to try one of IHG’s upmarket properties after having stayed in countless Holiday Inns. I booked a room for 2 nights at 30,000 points a night.

The hotel is located off a street called Campos Elíseos (just like Paris’s Champs Élysées) in the very chic Polanco neighborhood, which is filled with expensive hotels, high-end stores, and trendy restaurants and nightclubs.

It’s clearly an area that caters to the well-to-do. It’s really picturesque and filled with parks and beautiful architecture, but feels kind of sequestered from the rest of the city. Like Tiffany, next time I’d want to try out a hotel in another neighborhood.

Still, for a first-timer, this was a great home base. The lobby is welcoming and spacious. Check-in was quick and friendly, and I was recognized as an IHG Platinum member. I asked for a late check-out and was told I could check out at 3 p.m.

Intercontinental Presidente Mexico City Lobby

My room was great. Naturally, the bedding and furniture were high-quality.

Intercontinental Presidente Mexico City room

Intercontinental Presidente Mexico City Bathroom

But what really stole the show was the view. At the hotels I usually choose, I’m accustomed to overlooking a parking lot or, if I’m lucky, a brick wall next door.

Here I had what looked like a framed photo of the Auditorio Nacional, complete with a giant Mexican flag. This picture was truly worth a thousand hashtags.

Intercontinental Presidente Mexico City view from bed

#MexicoCity #View #AuditorioNacional #VivaMexico

The one negative I was able to find in this room (and I’m really nitpicking here) is that the faucet in the sink was not long enough, so it was impossible to wash my hands without touching the side of the sink. All in all, not a huge deal.

Intercontinental Presidente Mexico City bathroom vanity

Oh, and while the decorative pillows on the beds were cool, I tend to agree with Ben: I toss these on the floor (and I assume everyone else does too), so I’d prefer they weren’t there at all.

Decorative pillows, aka fluffy bacteria storage units?

Exploring Mexico City

As far as my impressions of Mexico City go, it really exceeded my expectations. It’s a sophisticated metropolis that can give any other world-class city a run for its money. I loved the trajineras (beautifully decorated wooden boats) of Xochimilco, and the Palacio Nacional was definitely worth exploring. I want to go back so I can see the world-famous anthropology museum and spend some more time exploring the markets.

Trajineras of Xochimilco

Palacio Nacional


Mexico City has terrible traffic. Driving didn’t feel particularly treacherous, but expect to move at a snail’s pace (or maybe even see some snails overtake you as you sit in bumper-to-bumper congestion). The Metro can get you to most parts of the city for about 25 cents (yes, you read that right). It’s a little crowded, but it seemed safe and efficient.

Mexico City Metro

The Food

Anyone who has spent more than 5 seconds with me knows that I’m the world’s pickiest eater, but I found the food here to be very good. I love cheese, and fortunately so do the restaurants in Mexico City. I’m also glad to say that my sensitive stomach didn’t react badly to anything I tried (though I avoided street foods, uncooked fruits and vegetables, and tap water/ice, just to be extra safe).

My favorite food experience was eating a churro from a place in the Coyoacán neighborhood (I would’ve taken a photo of it for you, but I lacked the impulse control to resist eating it immediately). The churro was stuffed with Nutella (though watching them poke a hole in the churro with a metal rod made me cringe a little, since it looked like a catheterization).

Bottom Line

Go. You’ll love it.

  1. Thank you Andrew. Wife and I both have IHG CC and the Platinum “status” that goes with. Have reservations at Intercontinental Presidente Mexico City for this US Labor Day weekend. Were you voluntarily granted Lounge Access on 39th floor which provides breakfast and evening cocktails? If not, did you ask for access and were denied? As we all know, IHG has a fancy higher level of Ambassador, etc. and the lowly CC Platinum’s may not rate. Tripadvisor has very active site for this hotel where many IHG Ambassadors give good marks but there are many cold shoulder remarks from others. TIA.

  2. Great down to earth posting Andrew. I had been on the fence whether to visit Mexico city and your post has pushed me over the edge. As a fellow govie I also either laugh or cry but travel for relief. Additionally I also find the IHG program pretty good but the Intercontinentals very hit or miss. The Intercontinentals in South America tend to be a lot better than the far eastern ones. Also access to the club lounges is VERY hit or miss. Marriott has a much better policy as regards lounge access and overall a better program.

  3. I typically can only last about 2 hours in any museum. The anthropology museum is huge, so I had been putting it off when visiting Mexico City. I finally went last year, rented the English language headset and spent about four hours in there. I still didn’t see it all. It really is huge (and great)! Plan accordingly.

  4. IC typically does not honor platinum or Spire elites with IHG. Only Ambassador and Royal Ambassador status get guaranteed upgrades.

  5. If you are the world’s pickiest eater, why do you have a food section – which has basically has no content in it! A poor entry overall in the series.

  6. @RedCardTom: They didn’t proactively offer me lounge access, and I didn’t inquire about it this time. If I’d been there for another day or so, I probably would have. As you and @Robin pointed out, it is so hit or miss with IHG.

    @Rico: I’m the same way with museums. Good to know that the anthropology museum is worth it. I’ll definitely check it out next time I visit.

    @_ar: I was reluctant to visit Mexico City for a while due to my eating habits. Was hoping that this would encourage others like me to make the trip.

  7. you’re right, here, in Mexico city traffic is awful, but nowadays you can travel using uber at affordable price

  8. For those of you who clai IC is hit or miss in granting lounge access, you do NOT understand the program at all. Lounge access is NOT part of the benefits for the PLat or Spire. You all know IC has its own loyalty program of Ambassador The Royal and the regular – Both require pay stays at ICs AND an annual fee to maintain the status AND to enjoy the benefits that come with it.
    YET you the Plats esp those from the CC are expecting the benefits that are never incl for your status. Then blame IC being a hit or miss….
    Yu need to get the expectation straight – If an IC offers an uproar to room, sends small amenity to your room when you ae a mere Plat, tat IC already is going above and beyond to treat you based on your status with IHG.
    If you want moe , PAY for it. Though the regular Ambassador which can be bought with $200 a year would still NOT give you lounge access but it would give you one free weekend night when you book a PAY night then your 2nd weekend night can use the free weekend night cert.

    You need to get your expectation in check with the reality and not to expect freebies that are not part of your program benefits. This advice is coming from your fellow Plat so is always grateful when an IC gave a room upgrade and sent up some welcome gifts. Wouldn’t expect and wouldn’t fault the hotel if not getting any.

    Hi – ICs in Asia and Europe tend to be on the generous side. Received room upgrades at Paris, Budapest, Hong Kong and Osaka. The latter two sent up amenities every day while the first two tried to upswell the lounge access.

  9. @FLL

    I guess that is why I am an HHonors Diamond rather than an IHG Platinum.

    With my previous Platinum status was only upgraded with Exec Floor access in Santiago – and then the Executive Lounge had no service two of the four nights we were there (for no apparent reason).

  10. Good Afternoon Andrew, Tiffany and of course Lucky. I posted above on July 4. We are back from 4 nights at Intercontinental Presidente over Labor Day weekend. My previous post was regarding the Executive lounge. Our reservation was on 3 IHG “free night certificates” won between the two of us in the “Priceless Surprises” IHG promotion back in March and 30,000 IHG points. So we were not expecting them to roll out the red carpet even though we are both IHG CC Plats. Well they did roll out the red carpet and treated us like royalty. I asked about the lounge, they stated that they had already upgraded the room but had not included Lounge access. I stated that with our reservations we were offered “Ambassador” status for 32,000 IHG points (which we had on hand and ready) and if I exercised this offer would they grant lounge ? They said that “no” status guaranteed lounge but there was a promotion going on at their property for IHG Plats. where you are granted an additional room upgrade to executive floor with “park” view and Lounge (Breakfast, drinks and very substantial snacks-dinner) for $40.00 per night which included both of us. We did this and fully took advantage of the “substantial” hospitality in the lounge. I am a “Frugal Traveler” but not a nit picker. This was a magnificent short trip (4 hour non-stop each way on United from ORD) We relied heavily on your reports. Regards and probably more to come.

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