Is it just me or does it seem like tomorrow’s date is going to be Jan. 83? The start to 2019 has dragged, which means winter has also dragged and I’m ready for another vacation. If you’re in the same boat (or igloo) and are looking for a warm escape, Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta should absolutely make your short list of destinations. The two cities could not be more different, but their close proximity by plane (less than hour) makes them ideal choices to experience a harmonious balance of intense municipal energy and total relaxation.
As you begin your preliminary research, you’ll quickly notice that both places also offer an abundance of hotels. Since my goal in life is to make your life easier (but not my own, apparently), I’d like to suggest three fantastic lodging options that will allow you to see the best of all worlds. Check out my top picks below and be sure to book ASAP! Another polar vortex is inevitably on the horizon.
Why: Proximity, proximity, proximity. You couldn’t be more centrally located, which is necessary in the world’s second largest city. Nearly all of the major museums, parks, and restaurants are within a 15-minute Uber, making it an ideal home base after a day of non-stop walking and eating. The property itself is also beautiful and welcoming with oversized windows and high ceilings, keeping in line with the St. Regis’s international design standards and overall chic aesthetic.
What to Eat/Drink: Diana boasts an impressive all-you-can-eat brunch with a terrace that offers superb views of the city and its stunning architecture (like the famed fountain of Diana the Huntress). Highlights include a fabulous taco cart, as well as a full-service ceviche bar with salsa verde aplenty. If you’re looking to satisfy a liquid diet, adjacent King Cole Bar boasts a bevy of inspired cocktails, with signature Bloody Marys from global St. Regis locations at the forefront. (The hotel claims to be the founder of the drink, which means you’d be remiss to not try at least one iteration.) Que picante!
What to Do: Aside from taking full advantage of the St. Regis’s dining establishments, this is an instance where I’d tell you to leave the hotel, get lost in Mexico City, and explore everything its rich culture and history has to offer. From the museums surrounding the Zócalo to the pyramids at Teotihuacan to the boat rides at Xochimilco, there is no shortage of amazing experiences that will truly change your perception of what is probably a narrow-minded, Cancun-dominated view of Mexico. It also helps that the residents of Mexico City are simply the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. And this says a lot considering I am notorious for my resting bitch face (see above).
Why: When it comes to chic decor and rubbing elbows with trendy travelers, the W is always your best bet. Their penthouse-level suites, in particular, are also ideal respites for those traveling with friends and in need of extra space. Additionally, its location in modern and luxurious Polanco makes it an excellent alternative to the hustle and bustle of Mexico City’s more populated areas.
What to Eat/Drink: The Living Room Bar is one of the best nightlife spots in the area, offering creative cocktails that highlight fresh local produce (I was on a passion fruit kick the entire trip and their options more than delivered). The environment is also eclectic and colorful with areas that cater to mingling locals, as well as privacy-demanding tourists. After a few libations, be sure to hit up nearby Churrería El Moro for the most indulgent churros you’ll eat in the city. The sugar coma is more than worth it.
What to Do: Polanco, its surrounding area, will remind you of South Beach or Beverly Hills with its swanky outdoor restaurants and adorable shops. There is an even a Nobu for pre-dinner cocktails or omakase, should you need a break from all the tortillas and guacamole. This is your opportunity to relax among the city that, next to New York, truly never sleeps. Take advantage of it.
Why: Those seeking a resort that has *everything* you need at an affordable cost should look no further than Marriott Puerto Vallarta. What’s not to love about award-winning restaurants, a giant pool, multiple bars, a gorgeous beach, and renovated rooms? Nothing, that’s what. The true definition of paradise is not having a worry in the world and this hotel goes above and beyond to ensure just that.
What to Eat/Drink: For starters, it is the only hotel in the world to distill its own tequila, making poolside drinking all the more exciting and special. Guests can also partake in tastings and cooking classes to enhance their culinary experience, though I strongly recommend a reservation in the Herb Garden for a truly authentic Mexican food outing. Set among the sights of soft string lights, the smells of basil, and the sounds of the ocean, the meal was the highlight our trip. As far as the property’s restaurants go, Japanese Mikado was actually our favorite with an entertaining Hibachi show and some of the island’s best sushi.
What to Do: From water sports to volleyball to a zen-forward spa (a massage is a must!), the resort truly has everything to offer, but real thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies should book a zip-lining excursions through Vallarta Adventures. The half-day escapes show a different side of the city, bookended by a high-speed boat trip that captures the beauty of the different bays. You’ll meet people from all over the world as you hike, repel, and fly through the rain forest, all of which is documented by a GoPro and professional photographer.
It’s also important to note that Puerto Vallarta is known for being an extremely LGBTQ-friendly area. If you’re a family who wants to avoid the craziness of Zona Romántica, the Marriott is ideal. You’ll not only feel genuinely comfortable with being yourself, but can rely on childcare services to watch the kids as you explore the gay districts by day and return to beachside zen by night. Truly a win/win.
Header image courtesy of The St. Regis Mexico City.