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Tom Shortt wants to bring a little of SoHo’s vibe to Mexico City. "Hip" is his favorite word to describe the New York neighborhood south of Houston Street, as well as his new south-of-the-border hotel, the Hippodrome Hotel in Mexico City.
For agents with clients looking for a fresh, novel approach to a hotel, the Hippodrome might just be the ticket. Although Mexico City has been making a name for itself lately with trendy boutique hotels, Shortt brings a new twist to the idea with intimate Big Apple-like luxury.
The Hippodrome Hotel is a
converted 1930’s apartment
building with Art-Deco flair.
Entering a sun-filled guestroom, it was easy to see what inspired the quote. The lovely, minimalist decor is carried out with Mexican-Asian flair — tall doors with glass panels that resemble Japanese screens, elegant custom-
designed furniture with simple lines made of fine Mexican nogal (walnut) hardwood, thick rugs and a chocolate brown color scheme to give the room an earthy, homey ambiance.
"I wanted to make the rooms feel like apartments," Shortt said.
And this "home-away-from-home" concept conspires to do just that with an iPod station, cordless phone, free wireless Internet and a 27-inch flat-screen LCD television. Guests also have free access to a gym a couple blocks away with a menu of spinning and Pilatesclasses, a climbing wall, cardio machines and free weights.
There are 16 rooms, including a penthouse for the traveler who wants to splurge on, among other things, a cozy, round Jacuzzi bathtub looking out onto a rooftop terrace with a sun lounge and table for al fresco dining. The ride up to the fifth-floor suite is in a vintage cage elevator with an old-time look. I was pleasantly surprised by the contemporary art, which adds another sophisticated spark to the property with edgy photos of fire hydrants and brick walls in vivid colors, reminiscent of the Pop art movement of the 1960s, and features emerging artists like Guillermo Kahlo, grand nephew of Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s most famous painters.
When the night gets going, the restaurant-bar goers turn into a party crowd. The Hip Kitchen is a bistro with a faithful following of locals that turns into a scene after dark. There’s live jazz on Saturdays, when the decibel level goes up and reservations are a must. I think it’s one of the best new restaurants in town, its biggest draw being the Mexican fusion cuisine of Lalo Vasquez, who was mentored by renowned chef Richard Sandoval, owner of Pompano in New York.
After walking the city all day and foot-weary, I sank into a seat and tried the house special, Martini Hip, a spirited mix of vodka, pineapple juice and Mexico’s own chili morron. This was enough incentive to sample the house appetizer — spicy soy beans — followed by a dried fruit-and-nut salad and melt-in-your mouth lasagna. Before stepping inside for dinner, I strolled the Parque Mexico across the avenue, a pleasant, family-friendly park of palm trees, towering fountains and rock gardens and an oasis of quiet in one of the busiest cities in the world.
The affable host, Shortt, worked for The Ritz-Carlton and managed a hotel in Miami’s South Beach before deciding to launch the Hippodrome.
"I wanted to transfer my corporate skills to my own hotel," he said.
When he first set eyes on his future hotel, it was abandoned, had squatters and floors that were caving in. But now that the Hippodrome is up and running, Shortt and his partners have acquired an old mansion nearby and plan on refurbishing it into a private club. No doubt, it will bring the same hip New York-style luxury to the capital.
Hippodrome Hotelwww.thehippodromehotel.com www.k-hotels.com The hotel features, free local calls, room service, NFL broadcasts in season, taxi service and a friendly bilingual staff. Don’t be put off by the construction site across the street. It’s a small price to pay for this jewel of a hotel. Work stops at 5 p.m., noise never reaches the rooms and the project will soon be finished.
Rates: Rooms start at $230 and run to $970 for the penthouse.
Commission: 10 percent