Skip to main content

This gothy hotel in Mexico City is perfect for art lovers

This Mexico City hotel is gothy and luxurious

There are plenty of hotels in Mexico City, but only one gives off vibes like it’s where Batman stays when he visits town: Umbral Hotel, in the city’s Zocalo district. That may seem like a very specific description, but it’s apt, for – whether intentional or not – Umbral has a decidedly gothy style that lends it one of my favorite aesthetics I’ve seen at any hotel anywhere.

Gothy yet luxurious: just my type.

Let’s take a look at what, precisely, makes the Umbral so unique. I’ll also share a few recommendations for the surrounding area, which is one of the most historic sections of Mexico City.

Umbral Hotel in Mexico City.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Umbral Hotel: unique among Mexico City hotels

The Umbral is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, a distinction that is given to some of Hilton’s most unique properties around the globe. It certainly is that – unique. From the moment you walk into the black hole that is its lobby, you realize that you’re not in your typical downtown accommodation.

The whole place has an almost steampunk atmosphere that blends neoclassical features with modernist and, again, gothic elements. The lobby provides access to two art galleries where revolving collections are on display, and you’ll find fine art scattered throughout the hotel – including some singular pieces in one of its bars (more on that in a moment). Hotel art can vary greatly in quality, but I genuinely appreciated what I saw displayed at Umbral. Abstract works from Mexican artists are well placed throughout, and in the gallery off the lobby was a selection of works from indigenous Wixarika artists.

Things get particularly gothy once you take the old-fashioned elevator to the guest floors. Stepping out into the black, glass, and almost industrial metal touches of the hall, the Bat-cave ambiance cranks into high gear. Then you step into your room.

Umbral Hotel in Mexico City.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The room

It’s like entering into another black hole. Each room’s foyer is a little cave of darkness: black walls with a couple of spotlights illuminating large art pieces, a little grey waiting chair by the door, a desk hidden in the gloom – very rock and roll. Beyond this is a secondary entryway – also black – with a couch and TV.

Finally, beyond a curtain you enter the room proper: a bright space with top-notch hotel appointments – and a record player flanked by a pair of records. Mine were Mazzy Star and ACDC, but you can request titles from a fairly wide-ranging selection.

The bed is fantastic, the bathroom spacious and elegant, and my room had a view of the bustling street below. Outstanding accommodations all around.

Umbral Hotel in Mexico City.
Umbral Hotel

The restaurants

There are a bunch of different foody-drinky opportunities in the building, and I tried three.

On the roof are two options: Oliva, which provides a fairly wide range of Mexican and international bites throughout the day, both in a restaurant and via a trimmed-down poolside menu (yes, the hotel has a small rooftop pool and lounge area); and Paxia, which offers an elaborate menu of modernist Mexican flavors.

In the lobby a spiral staircase will bring you to Nardo Cocktail Club, where you can enjoy art with your drinks. I was particularly into the surrealist pianos. Great, weird stuff indeed.

I didn’t get a chance to try the patisserie Matisse or Chocolateria San Gines, but suffice to say there are plenty of chances to eat. There’s also a branch of Ojo de Agua, a small café chain that has locations all over CDMX, and is popular for its fresh juices and healthy yet tasty breakfasts.

Umbral Hotel in Mexico City.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Zocalo neighborhood

The Umbral is located in the heart of the historic Zocalo district, near the city’s central plaza, the big cathedral, impressive Aztec ruins, and many of the main government buildings. Having spent a lot of time in CDMX, I have to admit that the neighborhood is rather hit or miss.

During the day it’s a vibrant area that bustles with people, restaurants, shops, and street vendors. There are outstanding food options all over the place, and lively events are frequently held in the plaza. Stunning architecture abounds, and you’ll likely get the chance to see Aztec dancers performing in front of the cathedral.

It does, however, get a bit barren and occasionally sketchy at night, like most metropolitan downtown areas. There is a heavy police and security presence, but if you’re coming or going late at night you’ll probably want a taxi.

Don’t let that deter you – there’s plenty of rich culture to be experienced in the Zocalo. Just be aware as you would in most major cities.

As for what to see while in the neighborhood, the aforementioned plaza, Aztec ruins, and cathedral are at the top of the list. Just down the street you’ll also find Bellas Artes: a unique Art Nouveau building that is famed for its massive murals, particularly those painted by the renowned Mexican painter Diego Rivera, husband of Frida Kahlo.

Between the art and architecture of the Umbral and the abundance of it throughout the surrounding neighborhood, the whole situation makes for a supremely artistic experience.

Nick Hilden
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nick Hilden is a lifestyle and culture writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Afar…
The best places to visit in Mexico: Add these gorgeous spots to your bucket list
Add these destinations to your itinerary

Are you planning a trip to Mexico this year? Whether you are a city lover seeking bustling metropolises, an outdoor enthusiast looking to soak up the sun on gorgeous beaches, or an adventurer on the hunt for unique experiences, Mexico has it all. From the ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization to the charming old towns and luxury resorts, this incredible country provides destinations that cater to all tastes and interests. These are just a few of the best places to visit in Mexico to get you inspired for your next vacation.

Cozumel, an undeveloped Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and relaxation seekers alike. As a popular cruise ship port, Cozumel offers a unique blend of natural beauty and vibrant local culture. Situated on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef system in the world, the island is known for its crystal-clear waters, making it a fabulous destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. 

Read more
Head to one of the most underrated beaches in the U.S. this summer
You can visit many of the best beaches in the world right here in America — no passport required!
Lumahai Beach

To find the perfect beach to have fun in the sun, it’s easy to assume that you need to head to some brand-name (and expensive) international tourist destinations, like Fiji, Bora Bora, and the Maldives. Sure, you can’t go wrong with any of these, but some of the best beaches in the world are right here in the U.S.

One of the best parts about visiting beaches in the U.S. is that no passport is required to enjoy these spectacular beaches. Pack up your favorite beach gear and head to one of these underrated beaches while practicing the necessary safety measures this summer.
Montaña de Oro State Park
San Luis Obispo, California

Read more
Stay and surf: This Mexico resort takes you to the waves
This Mexico resort is great for surfers
Views from the moondeck of Secrets Resort

Moondeck of Secrets Resort Hyatt Corporation / Hyatt Corporation

Surfing offers a sensation unlike anything. There’s the wave rising underneath you, its energy apparent as it forms a mound. Then, the board begins to plane, and the glide begins, water flowing underneath. You pick your line, left or right, and rocket across the surface. It’s pure joy. 

Read more