Lerdo de Tejada 2308, Colonia Lafeyette, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Grupo Habita hotel group always creates a buzz when it opens a new property and this Guadalajara boutique property is another spot where the cool crowd can gather. For a luxury stay though, a room upgrade is a must.
Guadalajara is known as Mexico's second city. It is the capital of Jalisco, the quintessentially Mexican state, home to charros, mariachis and tequila. While the area's archetypal Mexican–ness is well known, its current renaissance as a touristic and culinary and destination is less so. The city is small and easily negotiable by car, taxi or Uber, and walking in many areas is a pleasure. The attractive historic center has been refurbished in recent years, many pedestrian streets highlighting its colonial charm. And the city has experienced an explosion of gastronomic activity in the last few years; talented local chefs and restaurateurs create cutting edge design and avant garde dishes.
In keeping with the current market for small, contemporary hotels, the Habita group has opened Casa Habita. The 37–room boutique hotel is set in an old mansion which sits next to a new, modern, nine–story annex; this vintage/contemporary combination is unique in the city. There is little competition in town for boutique hotels, making this a fine option for those seeking intimate, homey lodgings.
The hotel is located in Colonia Lafeyette, an upscale residential area. Its tree–shaded streets are lined with private homes, some of them of the art–deco period. The older structure of Casa Habita, built in the 1940s, falls into the modernist, post–deco category. It has been lovingly restored. The Habita Group is known for refashioning historic buildings as hotels—amongst others, they own Mexico City's Downtown, set in a former colonial palace; Condesa DF, a redone 1920s mansion; and Acapulco's Boca Chica, a cleverly restored '50s beach hotel.
The old house, built as a private residence in the 1940s, serves as the reception area and restaurant. Furniture is upholstered in retro leaf–themed fabrics and is offset by salmon–pink walls, recalling a mid–century southern California home that might have been inhabited by Joan Crawford herself. The reception area is sleek and elegant, the desk topped by black and white marble, floors original checkerboard mosaic cement tiles.
The old building also houses the restaurant, worth a visit itself. Seating is either in the sunny dining room or outside on the terrace. The mahogany bar, framed by deep green walls is cozy by night and offers an extensive menu of cocktails. Executive chef Trevor La Presle, originally from California, is in charge of the kitchen that prepares "comfort food" utilizing local, seasonal and, when possible, organic ingredients. A classic Ceasar salad or shrimp cocktail might be followed by a whole red snapper from the coast of Jalisco, expertly grilled, as is the aged rib eye steak. The wine list includes several options from Baja California, Mexico's premier wine producing region. A lovely breakfast buffet is set out every day, which includes house–baked breads and sweet rolls.
Casa Habita's 37 rooms are located in the new, nine–story contemporary structure. Rooms are simple. Design and function are pared down but well thought out. Polished deep grey cement floors and white walls are accented by the celadon green bed and black and white marble, recalling the vintage structure while staying firmly planted in the 21st century. All offer airy views of the city from floor to ceiling windows.
Standard rooms are by no means spacious, sufficient for one person, perhaps a bit tight for two. The bed, separated from the bathroom area by a shelving structure, is plush and comfortable as it should be at this level. The bathroom is glamorous to look at, though marble floors can be slippery when wet and surfaces for putting things down are at a premium. This lack of "put" space can be problematic in the room as well—there is no desk and only a tiny table that quickly becomes cluttered. Some have a small balcony with two chairs.
Overall, these rooms are acceptable and comfortable but their luxury status is questionable. Thankfully there are two steps up. The best option is the appropriately named "Top Suite," really an ample two–bedroom apartment, located on the top floor. This sun–flooded space is beautifully furnished with mid–century tables and chairs as well as contemporary art. It is seductively classy, highly recommended. The other option is the Junior Suite, which adds nearly 200 more square feet of space, a sitting area, and a corner location with windows on two sides.
The modestly sized swimming pool and bar area, located on an upper level of the newer structure, is a pleasant place to hang out. Several intimate spaces are designed as homey living rooms accented by vintage appliances and furniture. Spa services are available offering massages and facials.
The young staff at the hotel and restaurant is friendly, helpful and bilingual. At the time of writing though, only the home page of the website was in English.
All in all, Casa Habita, while not a luxury hotel per se, is stylish and comfortable. It is unique in Guadalajara, for its size as well as its clever combination of vintage and contemporary styles. It is located away from the bustle of downtown yet accessible to it. Casa Habita's top–end status may be arguable, but it is recommended for those who want comfort, class and, most importantly, a relaxing experience in well–designed surroundings.
Web Address: Casa Habita
Total Number of Rooms: 37
Published rates: $131 to $220 USD
Review and 2nd photo by Nicholas Gilman. Other photos courtesy of Casa Habita.