Cracked and fading for decades, Mexico City has recently undergone something of an extreme makeover. Thanks to a Giuliani-style campaign against crime (Rudy was a consultant) and enough urban redevelopment to make Robert Moses proud, North America’s oldest city (1325) and one of its most important cultural centers suddenly feels nuevo again.
Arts-and-culture types should head straight for the Centro Histórico district, currently undergoing a major restoration that’s resulted in freshly paved streets, spruced-up Spanish Baroque buildings, and the just-opened Palacio de Cultura Banamex art-and-sculpture collection (the debut exhibit features 84 works by the seminal Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo), housed in the renovated eighteenth-century Palacio de Iturbide. Architecture and design geeks will want to wander the tony Polanco neighborhood, home to flashy showpieces of modern Mexican architecture such as Enrique Norten’s translucent green-and-blue glass-enclosed Hotel Habita and sleek, trendy cafés like Punta del Cielo. For a more downtown vibe, visit the Condesa area, whose landscaped Avenida Amsterdam is lined with more Art Deco buildings than South Beach, or shop the cutting-edge galleries of the emerging Belle Époque neighborhood of Roma, where galleries such as OMR, Nina Menocal, GAM, Kurimanzutto, and Garash represent contemporary Mexican artists like Fernando García Correa, Gabriel Orozco, and Damian Ortega. There’s nothing new about the exhaustive exhibits of Mayan and Aztec artifacts at the Museo de Antropología and the permanent collection of works by modern Mexican masters such as Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo at the Museo de Arte Moderno, but they’re essential stops nevertheless.
Prima, a new lounge with cocktails by Jaspar Eyears, whose mother used to run London’s Groucho Club, is the hip watering hole of the moment. The “It” place to eat is Restaurante Lamm, a chic, half open-air, half glass-enclosed contemporary Mexican restaurant attached to the Casa Lamm arts complex (try the crab raviolis with a Mayan honey sauce). And the place to bunk is the recently opened W Mexico City, the hip hotel chain’s newest contribution to stylish sleeping. The Away spa offers Aztec-style mud baths and other beauty treatments, should you crave a little makeover of your own. —Tom Samiljan
DEAL OF THE WEEK
At the beachy White Elephant hotel, a chic collection of 53 rooms and 11 cottages set on Nantucket harbor, New York Magazine readers can get 20 percent off the standard rate of $222 when they reserve a room for midweek in June—loafers and seersucker blazers not included (800-445-6574).
IF YOU’RE GOING TO …
So much for Buddhism. This June, Bhutan welcomes two ultra-luxe hotels, the 24-suite Amanrila Paro, where one-week-minimum stays start at $7,429 per couple (800-477-9180), and Uma Paro (44-207-447-1029; from $1,860 for three nights), a 29-room property from the design team behind the Turks and Caicos’s luxurious Parrot Cay.
Philippe Starck has teamed with Argentine fashion designer Alan Faena to convert a century-old former wheat mill into an 85-room luxury hotel. Faena Hotel + Universe opens this August with the requisite chic restaurant, hip bar, and pampering spa (54-11-4021-5555, faena-experience.com; from $300).
The quaint Snug Country Cottage near Georgica Pond has been refurbished and reopened as Georgica Bend, a five-room B&B with delicious home-baked breakfast treats. Several rooms have working fireplaces—not that you’ll need them in August. You will, however, appreciate the pool (631-324-4920; from $325).
The recently opened F. M. Allen store on Madison Avenue (212-737-4374) is an all-purpose safari emporium. They’ll plan your trip to, say, an elephant-riding camp in Botswana, then outfit you with all the thirties-era safari gear you can stuff in that new leather trunk.