Hotel Review: Camino Real Polanco (Part 2)
Flight Report: Aeromexico AM 409
Lounge Review: MEX – Aeromexico Premier Salon
Lounge Review: MEX – American Express Centurion Lounge
Flight Report: Aeromexico 404
Mexico City, Mexico
July 17-22, 2016
Traveling for work is always interesting – I’ve been able to see a little bit of some great cities. And just like I don’t always choose where I end up visiting for work, I also don’t always choose where I stay. It can lead to pleasant surprises – finding myself in neighborhoods I might have otherwise not picked to stay in. I’ve come across small towns and great restaurants that I would have never found.
My recent trip to Mexico City could have certainly fallen into that category. Most people may not think to visit DF, a city not so far away from the United States, yet a completely different culture. The hotel we were booked was a hotel in the Polanco area, near the company office. From what I’d read, the area of Polanco seemed to have a ton of great restaurants, so I was keen on being able to try some great local spots.
While the team usually gets a say in the hotel we stay at, which is either close to the office or near public transportation. However, this time, we were told to stay at this hotel, so I didn’t do too much research on it, short of doing a quick look on its TripAdvisor page. Our room rate was approximately $180 per night, with a slightly lower rate on the weekends.
I arrived Sunday night at about 8pm and the property was fairly quiet. Not surprising for a Sunday night. The entrance area was big and bright, and as I walked into the property, it seemed large and spacious. As I first walked in, there was a large sitting/waiting area, from which I had to walk down a few wide steps to get to the check in counter. The lobby area was big and spacious, though only had a few seating areas. The space was colorful and though not modern-looking by any means, appeared to be nice and appealing to a tourist’s sense of what Mexico might feel like. I noticed a Ferragamo store (closed at the time I arrived), which I assumed spoke to the clientele at the hotel. There was also an American Express travel office on the property.
I arrived with two colleagues and we were processed fairly quickly. The associate helping me seemed a bit new and had to ask another person a few questions before completely processing me. I noticed one of the other front desk associates showed my colleague a map of the property and allowed him to select his room. I was not offered this (which I was a bit disappointed by). After being assigned a room, we were each escorted to our rooms by a bellboy.
The property is much larger than it looks from the entrance. We walked what felt like half a mile before finally getting to my room – 4640.
My room looked to be in an area of the hotel that had not been updated – at least based on the dull white lights that lined the area right by my room. This was a sharp contrast to the warm, yellow lighting in the hallways we walked through to get to my room.
While the lobby was big and bright, my room in contrast was dark and dull. Maybe it was the (stained) purple carpeting, or the white light, but the room felt old and worn.
My room came with a king sized bed, which was firmer than I’d liked. In contrast, the pillows were too soft, so much so that I needed to layer under my head just to feel comfortable. The pillows were also far too small for the bed, three pillows could have easily fit across. With just two pillows laid across, the bed felt a bit empty and lacking. Some throw pillows decorated the bed, but I do wish the standard pillows were a bit larger and firmer.
The bathroom was big and better lit than the bedroom. So large that there were empty spaces in the room. The bathtub area in particular was deceptively large – the bathtub itself was only a little more than half as big as the bath area, but the rest of the space was just marble. Not sure this was the best use of space, as the area was definitely big enough to fit a larger tub.
I did like that the hotel uses Molten Brown products. I was a fan of the conditioner, which felt moisturizing enough, where most conditioners supplied by hotels are rarely ever so. I wasn’t too big a fan of the body wash scent, but it wasn’t too overbearing for me to mind terribly.
On my first night on business trips, I prefer to order room service, partially because I’m too tired to venture out, and also to see what quality of food the hotel supplies.
The in-room dining menu offered two sets of food – one from what I believe is their in-house kitchen, while the other menu is a limited number of items from the China Grill restaurant, which is on the property (more on that later). Craving something easy, I opted for the spagehetti bolognese and an order of flan.
Though served throughtfully (with a huge bowl of parmesan to top off the plate), the food was underwhelming. The pasta was overcooked (seemed to be the theme of the day, based on the pasta served on my flight over on Aeromexico, and the sauce was very basic. The flan was too sweet for my taste, and was a bit too rich (if that’s possible). I wasn’t too surprised with the quality of in-room dining (as it is usually sub par), but I had high hopes considering the other restaurants in the hotel.
This property is very unique in that there are several restaurants in the hotel – you don’t even have to leave the building. Below is a list of the restaurants on-site:
- La Huerta (24 hours – buffet style)
- Bar Blue Lounge
- Token Cafe
- Cafe Tamayo
- Centro Castellano (Spanish)
- Beef Bar
- Morimoto (Japanese)
- Maria Bonita (Mexican)
- China Grill (Asian Fusion)
The first five on the list appeared to be managed by the hotel, while the rest were independently run.
And yes, that’s the same Morimoto restaurant that’s in New York. You’d think that given the number of restaurants on the property, the hotel would make more of an effort to dress up their in-house run food establishments, but this does not seem to be the case.
Mid-way into the week, I was a little exhausted from the trip and opted to order in instead of going out to . This time I opted for room service from China Grill, which I figured couldn’t actually be worst than what I’d ordered earlier in the week. I’m always wary of restaurants that market cuisine from one area of the world, but then serve up dishes from another (read: China Grill serving sushi?) – but the menu was fairly limited in terms of options, so I went with the calamari salad and a soft shell crab roll, which was at the very least cooked and hopefully difficult to mess up. I also ordered a desert called “bananas in a box” which I was secretly hoping was just a roasted banana (it was not – but it did come in a deep fried box).
The salad was good and much larger than expected (I actually ordered it again during my second week). The the soft shell crab roll was good, but about as good as hopping into a random, no-frills Japanese restaurant in your neighborhood. The dessert was good, though not what I was expecting – caramelized bananas with whipped cream in what I can only assume is a deep fried dough box (did not eat this part). While this meal was much better than what I ordered from their in-house kitchen, I’d expected better food from a restaurant that prides itself on locations all over the world (well, New York City and Dubai in addition to Mexico City).
Technology & Entertainment
As I settled in to bed, I tried to log on to the wifi which, given we had booked a corporate rate, I assumed was included in my room rate. Apparently, this was not the case – and upon viewing the website (at home, not on-site), there do not seem to be ANY rates that include free internet. Internet was $15 USD A DAY (a bit less if you buy for several days at a time), which, given that debt-ridden New York City is installing free wifi in bus stops across the city, makes this rate highway robbery. To be clear – it is cheaper to ride a bus in NYC and make use of the free wifi while waiting than it is to use internet in this hotel. In this day and age when hotels are just giving away free internet, I find this to be unacceptable.
My company policy doesn’t permit wifi expensing, but I didn’t bother paying for it since I recently switched over to T-Mobile, which offers free international roaming. I had some issues with the internet service my first few days, but after calling T-Mobile, they were able to help me with my issues and it worked much better.
In addition to the overpriced internet charges, there were no outlets near the bed to charge my phone. They probably weren’t expecting anyone to need to plug in near the bed since they figured no one was actually paying for internet. This place is just losing marks left and right.
Since this was a two week trip and I was assigned a different room on my second stay, I’ll save final ratings for this hotel for my second review. Stay tuned.
See Hotel Review: Camino Real Polanco (Part 2) for the rest of this review