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January 9, 2013
Originally published in Modern for Less
as
Hostel Takeover
Grupo Habita is known for its high-design Mexican hotels, but the firm's new hostel Downtown Beds, near Mexico City's main plaza, offers a radical sense of style for the budget traveler.
Downtown Beds hostel lounge area
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hostel mexico city bunk beds small spaces

Splashy bunk beds made from yellow lattice brick outfit this stylish hostel in Mexico.

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Downtown Beds bedroom with tiled flooring
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Downtown Beds hostel dining area
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Downtown Beds hostel lounge area

Design-savvy jet-setters may already know Grupo Habita’s hotels like the Condesa DF in Mexico City and the Hôtel Americano in New York. But the new hostel Downtown Beds, half of a two-part project designed by architect Abraham Cherem in central Mexico City, has given the hospitality firm a chance to aim its considerable design acumen at a different end of the spectrum. And the result—a just-off-the-Zócalo hostel that you’d actually want to stay in—is a backpacker’s dream.

Downtown Beds, which offers 78 sleeping spaces, some of which cost as little as $15 per night, opened in July, 2012. “We chose Abraham because we liked the way he used materials in new and innovative ways,” says Carlos Couturier, managing partner at Grupo Habita. “His youth and freshness played a key role in modernizing the building while maintaining its spirit.”

hostel mexico city bunk beds small spaces

Splashy bunk beds made from yellow lattice brick outfit this stylish hostel in Mexico.

Much of Cherem’s work was done with a few vibrant strokes. Downtown Beds resides in the servants’ quarters of a colonial palace (Cherem turned the palace itself into a more upscale hotel, Downtown Mexico), a humble space that the architect punched up with splashy bunk beds made from acid-green lattice brick. He kept the brick barrel-vault roofs in some rooms—original tile in others—and animated an interior courtyard with a crimson bar, foosball table, and cafe seating.

Downtown Beds bedroom with tiled flooring

“It was our first hostel,” says Cherem, who reports that part of his task was to understand how the hostel user might be different from a hotel guest. “We tried to make the hotel more luxurious and the hostel more fun.”

Downtown Beds hostel dining area

More important perhaps is that Grupo Habita’s conception of what drives the boutique hotel experience differs little from what may attract weary wayfarers and their 200 pesos to Downtown Beds. “We believe that good design doesn’t necessarily mean high prices,” says Couturier. “Our guests at Downtown Beds are both the young and not-so-young; they’re well-informed, design-oriented travelers.”

Downtown Beds is located at Isabel la Catolica No. 30, Centro Historico Mexico City, Mexico. 866-978-7020. Beds between $14 and $43 per night.

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