Surrounded by soaring mountains, under-the-radar Monterrey, in Mexico, is shaking off its shady reputation (the city is safer than ever these days) and brimming with great eateries, throbbing bars, innovative museums and stylish hotels. Make a beeline for Mexico’s third-largest city before the crowds cotton on… Here are the best places to stay.
There’s a whiff of Vegas-style bling at this glossy 228-room hotel, from the grand colonnaded lobby to the polished marble floors. Though you’re 6km out of the city centre, there’s no shortage of shopping on hand – the swanky Metropolitan Shopping Centre is connected directly to the hotel. If you’ve got kids in tow, the palm-lined outdoor pool is a winner, with a cascading waterfall and whoop-inducing slide.
Do you have a head for heights? This hotel occupies floors 18 to 25 of a skyscraper in Monterrey’s glitzy financial district. It blends seriously glamorous interiors with contrasting light-hearted touches like rubber duckies perched on standalone luxury bathtubs. Rooms come with aromatherapy kits and pillow menus. There’s a small-but-sexy spa lit by a starry ceiling.
With a stellar location and simple, no-frills rooms – if you’re on a budget, this quiet hotel ticks all the boxes. A mere hop from the buzzing Macroplaza (the biggest town square in Mexico), soundproofed rooms ensure undisturbed shut-eye. Facilities include a small indoor pool and large gym. A five-minute stroll takes you to the outstanding Museum of Contemporary Art, another fifteen minutes and you’re at the Museum of Mexican History with treasures to admire from pre-Hispanic times to present day.
Surrounded by sweet-scented pine forests in the Sierra Madre foothills, this 1970s-built lodge lies just 20 minutes from the bright lights of downtown Monterrey. The look is rustic-cosy, with rough-hewn stone, wooden beams and open fireplaces. Pack extra layers – the temperature is noticeably cooler up here, which makes for perfect hiking weather. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears, lynx and racoon-like coati – all residents of the Chipinque Ecological Park.
With its neutral, airy, sleep-inducing rooms, this is a favourite among overworked business travellers – most of whom are here because the Convex Exposition Centre is just around the corner. But this competitively priced hotel is also an easy cab ride from all the main sights. It has an outdoor pool for post-sightseeing dips and a glut of great eateries within walking distance. Try El Mirador for gigantic steaks and homemade tortillas.
This is a top pick for families, with the funky Parque Fundidora right on your doorstep: a former steel-factory complex transformed into a vast urban park. It has bike paths, skate parks and the unmissable Horno 3 museum. The hotel’s bold crimson façade belies the business-bland rooms; more appealing is the pretty landscaped outdoor pool – and this being a Holiday Inn, the welcome is warm.
Who’d have thought business could look so boutique? A nondescript exterior hides playful decor at this corporate-minded, yet laid-back hotel in the San Pedro Garza Garcia area. Splashes of lime green and tomato red jazz up the airy lobby, with a smattering of cacti and agave plants giving a gentle nod to Mexico. The 177 rooms are simple but spacious, with dark wood floors and Eames-style rocking chairs. A business-class bargain.
The thrumming downtown district is right on your doorstep at this sleek urban pad. Amble around the gaudily painted Barrio Antiguo, with its whimsical colonial houses-turned galleries and bars, or join the evening paseo at the buzzing Macroplaza. Back at the hotel, rooms are done up in pared-down pine with floor-to-ceiling windows giving knockout views, and the bathrooms are swathed in dove-grey marble.
Hands-down the city’s most stylish sleep, Habita is an architectural vision of curving concrete and glass in the contemporary-commercial San Pedro Garza Garcia area. The Arroz negro (creamy rice with squid ink) on the menu is worth staying in for at the funky restaurant. On the rooftop you’ll find a shimmering, Instagram-worthy infinity pool, plus an open-air bar that’s packed on weekends with Monterrey’s bright young things. Sleep off a tequila too many in one of the 39 monochrome, minimalist rooms.