Orizaba 95, Colonia Roma Norte, Mexico, D.F.
The boutique Hotel Brick , a tree house for grown-ups, injects new life into an old Mexico City neighborhood.
Imagine this: You’re in a hotel room, soaking in a hot bath, glancing at the international news on a large flat screen TV. Through a huge widow there’s a view of treetops and sky—not a building or a person in sight. You refill your champagne glass, switch off the TV, and watch as the moon rises--completely forgetting you’re in the middle of a city of 20 million people. Welcome to the Hotel Brick.
The Hotel Brick opened in March of 2010 in Mexico City’s Colonia Roma, a residential neighborhood that dates back to the early 1900’s and is currently enjoying a renaissance as “the place to be” for young, hip chilangos (slang for Mexico City residents). The 17-room boutique hotel, with its chic bar and terrace restaurant, quickly established itself as the hottest place around.
LRDF, an architecture and design firm from Mexico City, was hired to transform the 1902 mansion that occupied the site, while respecting local zoning regulations which protect historic architecture. They used the old house for the lobby, bar and restaurants, then added a 4-story glass, steel and wood tower behind it for the guest rooms.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the Brick’s design is how it incorporates greenery and nature. Colonia Roma is full of mature trees, of which the designers have taken full advantage in the placement of balconies for maximum privacy. A second floor “backyard” (for guests only) features a bar and lounge chairs—and a big green lawn. The peaceful contrast with the urban energy beyond the treetops is part of the magic here.
The original house functioned as a private residence, then a bordello (which curiously changed to a “cabaret” on my second visit), and then a locksmith shop. The hotel’s name comes from the bricks that were imported from England especially for this house.
The lobby/bar is enlivened with a delightful retro/futuro design concept. The muted, earthy color palette is highlighted by judicious use of contrasting black. Comfortable, old-fashioned sofas and chairs are surrounded by lamps made from dressmakers’ mannequins. Tables are giant slabs of tree trunks. Floor tiles of polished, colored concrete add a touch of Moorish romance with their swirling patterns that have been playfully mismatched. The whole place says, “Come in, sit down, and have a good time.”
There are two restaurants. The menu at the elegant La Moderna was designed by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval. It calls itself classic French, but manages to include a seafood risotto and other non-French items. It still seems to be in search of an identity.
The more casual and larger Restaurant Olivia (named after the madam of the bordello) has a bistro-style menu featuring pizzas, salads and sandwiches. It’s popular with power-breakfast business men and high-heeled ladies-who-lunch. Olivia’s corner terrace faces the street (the perfect “see and be seen” spot) and has a downstairs room for celebrities who don’t want to be recognized. In addition, the Brick has a small lounge area open on weekends for dancing. (Ask for a quiet room when you reserve.)
Other public amenities include a small gym (basically just 2 machines and a TV) and a long, single-lane lap pool. In-room spa services are available.
There are several categories of rooms ranging from a full suite, with living room, dining room and private garden, down to single rooms without outdoor space. The Penthouse Suites are those featuring the bathtubs with treetop views. These suites are on two levels with a narrow staircase leading up to the bath (sink, toilet and shower are on the same floor as the bedroom). The most expensive suites are on the ground floor, so they lack the floating garden magic of the upper rooms, but are sumptuously furnished.
Rooms are designed with the same sensitivity to color and materials as the lobby—an inviting mix of natural and industrial—but without the tone of quirky fun. It’s a bit more sober, but also more restful. One wall is all mirror, enhancing the apparent size—these rooms are ample, but not huge.
The mattresses are extremely comfortable, and you’ll have to turn the AC up high to make use of the thick down-filled duvet.
Bathrooms feature an open-hall double sink area, plus a private space for shower and toilet. Some would describe the shower area as compact, others as too small—it’s on the edge, but perfectly designed for function. The only real design flaw is the short closet space—no room for your bridal gown here as it’s taken up by the minibar. Kiehl’s bath products are provided as well as bathrobes and slippers, although the robe is more functional than luxurious.
Gratefully, there are no fancy electronics to figure out, but there is a wide-screen TV, a hookup for your iPod, and a free Wi-fi connection.
Colonia Roma is not the ritziest part of town (head to Polanco for that), but for those who want to explore the “real” Mexico City, Roma is a treat. The mixture of old and new, rich and poor, ugly and beautiful, chic and tacky is what makes this area fascinating. Calle Orizaba (where the Brick is located) and the cross street Álvaro Obregón are the two main thoroughfares here—all the new bars, restaurants, galleries and shops are found around here.
Web Address: http://www.hotelbrick.com/en/
Total Number of Rooms: 17
Published rates: $208 to $720 USD
Hotel Brick with Preferred Hotels
Review and two photos by Jim Johnston. Room and bar photos courtesy of Hotel Brick.
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