Modern Minimalism + Historical Opulence at Mexico City’s Círculo Mexicano

An oasis within CDMX's bustling Centro Histórico neighborhood

Located opposite the stunning Catedral Metropolitana in CDMX’s downtown Centro Histórico neighborhood, Grupo Habita‘s 25-room Círculo Mexicano (which opened in 2020) combines 19th-century architecture with minimalist modern design, creating an effortless feeling of juxtaposition. The building (once home to renowned photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo) has been expertly renovated by architecture firm Ambrosi | Etchegaray‘s Jorge Ambrosi and Gabriele Etchegaray, who successfully play with light, tonality and texture.

With a marketplace and restaurant on the ground floor; guest rooms and communal spaces on the second and third floors; and a plunge pool, bar and eatery on the rooftop, the entire property is drenched in natural light while remaining secluded. Using steel, concrete, stone, glass and timber, Ambrosi and Etchegaray create minimal but welcoming spaces that feel anything but stark.

Guest rooms feature beige and white textiles handmade by Oaxacan artisans and hand-blown light fixtures by Duco Lab that complement the Shaker-inspired furniture by Doctores-based furniture studio, La Metropolitana. While rooms are pared-back, they’re brimming with everything guests might need, tucked away behind wooden cupboards. All the expected amenities (robes, slippers and fully stocked mini bar with local snacks and wines) are included, as well as organic bath products.

Despite the open, breezy and communal layout, guest rooms are remarkably quiet, thanks to exposed brick walls and double-glazed windows; in fact, if your room is street-facing, you won’t hear the goings on at nearby Zocalo Square with the windows closed. Dramatic red-tiled barrel-vaulted ceilings provide the only pop of bright color within guest rooms.

Many rooms also feature walled, skylit patios that feel spacious but cloistered, providing an indoor/outdoor atmosphere that’s perfect for a late-night cocktail or a room-service meal. The ground-floor restaurant, Itacate del Mar, is helmed by local hero Gabriela Cámara of Contramar, while the rooftop eatery offers up traditional mezcals, wines and snacks. The vibe is Mexican street-style food with contemporary and creative tweaks, all of which are worth staying in for.

For those stopping by for a drink on the rooftop, a meal in the restaurant, a quick browse through the various stores, or a week-long stay in the harmonious rooms, the team of architects and designers behind this hotel has created an atmosphere that feels at once welcoming to locals and visitors alike; a secluded treasure hidden in plain sight in the center of the bustling city.

Images by Sergio López and Alan Espinosa courtesy of Grupo Habita