Av. Lopez Mateos and Moctezuma, Ciudad del Sol, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Guadalajara's original luxury hotel still reigns as the best large, full-facilities option in Mexico's second-largest city.
Still rising above most of the buildings around it, the Intercontinental Presidente Guadalajara looks like it could have been built of glass Lego blocks. From the upper floors, you have an expansive view of the commercial neighborhood and the mountains beyond through those walls of glass.
Inside the imposing entrance and up one level, however, it may bring back memories of travel decades ago with its soaring atrium lobby and glass elevators. You may feel quite small approaching the check-in counter and as you lounge in one of the sitting areas, there can be a sensation that you're sinking into the floor amongst all this vast space.
It is a striking space still, however, and it's rather doubtful that anyone will design a lobby with anything close to this scale in future hotels here, so it's worth lingering a while to take it all in. Or just grab a seat in the lobby bar a few steps away and sample one of the many tequila options on the shelf from the state of Jalisco's best-known export product.
Around the corner on the lobby level, past those glass elevators, are two restaurants, the club lounge, a business center, and meeting rooms.
The signature restaurant is Bistro La Bastille, open each day for lunch and dinner. It's an admirable attempt to duplicate the look and feel of a French Bistro in Paris, with traditional furnishings and modern art on the walls. There's a better-than-average wine list and menu options that include expected items like escargots, beef Burgundy, French onion soup, and duck. It is all presented with confidence and flair from a chef that clearly studied the classic techniques in the kitchen. Items are available from room service as well.
This hotel is right across the street from the Plaza del Sol outdoor mall, so you can find a variety of other places to eat there, from chains like Chili's and Sanborn's to more interesting fare like a Turkish restaurant.
The other restaurant on site is the breakfast buffet space, a much more contemporary and casual spot called Café Urbano. During my visit the buffet had adjusted for pandemic times and had waiters plating items from behind Plexiglas and bringing items to more spaced-out tables, but I was glad to see them adapting to keep it open. This was the liveliest spot in the hotel and service was quite good.
The Intercontinental Club Lounge, however, was not so fortunate. Normally the club level guests have their breakfast there and complimentary cocktails and snacks in the evening, but it was still closed during my visit, probably due to the limited size of the room.
The outdoor swimming pool at the Intercontinental is an attractive space with a view, though there's no staff or bar service there. Facing that is a gym with a good array of aerobic machines, weight machines, and dumbbells.
This Guadalajara hotel is, at heart, a meetings and conventions hotel, with 17 meeting rooms on one floor, the largest able to host up to 1,200 people. There's also a business center with computers and a copier/printer to use and outdoor space that can be set up for receptions.
With 423 rooms to fill in a city with few leisure travelers, the Guadalajara Intercontinental often offers some of the best rate values in the country. Anyone reading Luxury Latin America should skip right past the first few categories and book a suite with club level privileges. Even if the lounge is (temporarily) closed, these rooms have more space, better furnishings, and include breakfast. They also have an additional security lock to access the hallway.
My room was a corner junior suite on the club level, with city views in two directions. This allowed lots of natural light in the daytime, or city lights twinkling at night, but the blackout curtains worked very well when it was time for bed. Oddly there was no place to sit other than on the ergonomic desk chair since there was a support column in one corner of the room, but those not on the corner in the same hallway had two chairs or a loveseat. The full suites have a complete living room area.
These club floor rooms have plenty of storage space, ample outlets, and attractive fabrics, so they've clearly been updated more recently than some of the public areas. Bathrooms at this level feature a large shower with two different nozzles plus a big soaking tub. In some suites this tub faces an outside window, in others it is enclosed in a bathroom with attractive wallpaper and a marble vanity.
Other amenities include padded headboards, desk lamps, capsule coffee makers, fast Wi-Fi, safes, and cable TV with a few English channels. In normal times, there's turndown service each evening.
Reasonably priced indoor parking is available and this property offers all the expected additional services for a fee like shoeshine, laundry, and airport transportation.
The Intercontinental Presidente Guadalajara does show its age here and there, especially after the toll the pandemic travel slump took on revenue, but if you want a large, full-service hotel with a range of facilities, this is a bigger option than the Westin and a better choice if you're a part of the IHG Hotels loyalty program.
Web Address: IHG.com/intercontinental
Total Number of Rooms: 423
Published rates: $65 to $249 plus taxes
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.