Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hoteles Mexicanos: Los Buenos, Los Malos y Los Feos

A recent post by David Lida, "
It was good enough for D.H. Lawrence", on the venerable Hotel Montecarlo, in the Centro Histórico of México, D.F. brought back memories. Replying under my pseudonym, "Michael Warshauer", I wrote:
¡Viva el Hotel Montecarlo!
I started staying there on my second visit to Mexico City, February 1992. It was the equivalent of U.S. $14 a a night for a single room.

When my wife and I started staying there in ‘93, the peso price had risen but the dollar price had dropped. We last stayed there in February, 2004 for about U.S. $25. At that point, I realized that my aching, aging bones needed more comfort and we started staying elsewhere. The acrobatic antics necessary to enter some of the smaller bathrooms no longer amused me, nor were the infamous “eraser” pillows, with a consistency of firm rubber, still tolerable.
The doorlocks on the rooms were always cantankerous, but fun if you liked puzzles.
I always enjoyed arising early, going the to branch of the Pastelería Ideal across the street, and bringing back fresh pan dulce for us, the old night clerk, Arnulfo, and later, the security guard.
Gracias, David, for reawakening memories of our earlier, more adventurous travels in Mexico.

Night desk clerk Sr. Arnulfo and Doña Cuevas

Felipe Zapata responded that although he'd wanted to stay there, just once, in order to say he'd done it, my description convinced him not to.
In an email to him, I expanded the details, so that he could get the full flavor of the place. Some excerpts, below
In my reply on David Lida's blog, I failed to mention the Pervert Lounge, or whatever it's called, almost directly across the street. The large, high ceilinged front rooms would be the best ones, were it not for the Pervert Lounge disco. On Th, F and Sat, it revs up at about 10 o'clock and blasts away until about 4:00 a.m. The music (?) penetrates even the heavy wooden shutters and curtains. No wonder there're loose plaster fragments in the rooms. (Really, they're from sismos.)
Not all the rooms have acrobats' bathrooms. Some are grand salas, where you may bathe, evacuate and shave all at once, as you like. Be sure to move the toilet paper out of the range of spray before showering.
The newer, smaller but quieter rooms, at the back of the hotel, usually have windows or narrow airshafts, or no window at all, but an overhead ventilator. They felt snug and safe. Those rooms tend to be the ones with acrobatic bathroms.
Taller persons need to take care when descending the grand, curving staircase from the primer piso to the lobby. There's the underside of a marble cornice that can cause head damage if you walk on the wrong side. (There is a small and cranky elevator, capacity 3 persons and a small amount of luggage.) But you can make a grand entrance on the grand staircase, as if anyone cared.
Free local calls, through the ancient switchboard!
Another neat thing was when cars were driven into the lobby and parked in the ground floor garage.
Yes, we have a lot of affection for the old Hotel Montecarlo. It was one of the best budget hotels in which we've stayed during our earlier travels in La República. There have been much worse.

Stay Tuned

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