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A look into the capsule/pod area at Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, showing the two levels of pods anda the steps to ge to the upper-level pods.

Pod Sleeping: Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, Mexico City Airport–a Review

At Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, located in Terminal One at Mexico City’s Juarez Airport, you can sleep in a capsule, or pod. It’s private, clean, secure… and cheap.

Once upon a time (let’s call it 1979), in a land far away (let’s call it Japan), the Starship Enterprise and an old Pullman train car met, fell in love and reproduced. They called their offspring a Pod Hotel. And you should probably sleep in one at least once in your life.

Pod Hotel? Those of you old enough, like me, to remember the original 1956 movie “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” with Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, might have a negative reaction to the word “Pods…!!” So OK, let’s call them capsules. Better? Good.

Then the next time you have a flight to/from Mexico City, or a longish layover that makes you yearn for a nap and a shower, you might want to consider Izzzleep Capsule Hotel. Located in Terminal One, the international terminal, Izzzleep “Intelligent Hospitality” can be a great option for a few hours or overnight at a very reasonable price.

A look into the capsule/pod area at Izzzleep Capsule Hotel, showing the two levels of pods and the steps to ge to the upper-level pods.

The capsule area at Izzzleep. This photo, by Izzzleep Hotel, shows the two levels of sleeping berths and the steps to the upper ones. It was obviously taken with the lights on. But the capsule area is actually kept quite dark, with only low-level blue lighting. Suggestion: Take a flashlight in with you.

Of course there are pros and cons to sleeping in a capsule. Let’s get the cons out of the way up front.

The Cons of Staying at Izzzleep Capsule Hotel

• The individual capsules are small, so this is probably not a great option if you are very large or severely claustrophobic. We’re not talking MRI tube small. There’s plenty of room to move around, sit up in bed. My capsule at Izzzleep measured approximately 7’ x 4’ (2+x1.25 meters).
• The capsules accommodate only one person. If you’re traveling as a couple, you’ll have to book two, which wipes out a lot of the savings if you’re staying overnight. They can still be a great option for a nap and a shower though.
• The locker and sink area is communal. You won’t be changing clothes there, or showering, but you will be washing, brushing your teeth, doing make-up, taking off your shoes, etc. in a co-ed locker room area. In this way, it feels a lot like staying in a hostel.
• It can be more than a little difficult to dress and undress inside the pod, especially for older women who may be, shall we say, not quite as agile as we used to be. Since you can’t stand up, taking your pants off is especially tricky. And you will need to put them back on again to go out to the bathroom.
• You won’t have your luggage in the pod with you. I did have my daypack in there, with my computer, hairbrush, etc. It sat on the foot of the bed by my feet. I also could have hung it on a hook.

That list may sound daunting, but don’t let it put you off until you read more. The pros of staying at Izzzleep might convince you to try it.

The Pros of Sleeping at Izzzleep Pod Hotel

• The price – I spent a pretty comfortable night in my capsule, watched a telenovela on the overhead TV, had a good hot shower, and caught my morning flight a short walk away, rested and ready—and without the stress of getting to the airport on time—for just US$40, almost exactly one-third of what the night would have cost me right next door in the Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
• Location – Izzsleep is located in Terminal One, the international terminal, which is the one readers are most likely to be using. Also, it’s located on the outside of the security check line, so it’s usable even if your flight leaves from Terminal Two. Just hop on the airport shuttle to get there. If, like me, you arrive at the airport on a long-distance bus from another part of Mexico, it’s dead convenient, only a few steps from where you get off the bus, to the left past the bus ticket counters. If you enter Terminal One from the front of the airport, it’s also not hard to find. Just look for the food court, walk all the way through it, and you will find Izzzleep on the left.
• That food court is also convenient for when hunger strikes, with more than two dozen fast-food places with the usual burgers, sandwiches, pizza, plus Chinese and Japanese food, coffee-and-pastry outlets, and of course tacos and other Mexican specialties. There are also at least five full-service sit-down restaurants.
• There is free WiFi throughout Izzzleep.
• The capsule area is a strict quiet zone, meaning your sleep is unlikely to be interrupted by noise. Even shoes are not allowed in that zone. If you want to watch TV or listen to music, you will definitely need to use headphones. If you want to talk on your phone, you should go out into the communal area out of consideration for your fellow guests, who are only a molded plastic/fiberglass panel away.

Everything Else You Need to Know About Staying in an Izzzleep Capsule Hotel Pod

At check-in at Izzzleep, you’ll be given a cozy pair of thick socks. In the locker area, you take your shoes off and change into these socks, which you can take with you as a nice souvenir. I wore mine the next day on the plane.

The brightly lighted locker area at Izzzleep has two levels of lockers, one for each sleeping capsule.

Each sleeping capsule at Izzzleep has its own locker, which is opened with your key card. Inside you’ll find a blanket, a small bottle of water, a hanger, and room for a suitcase and your shoes.

The locker you open with your key card is not huge. It easily accommodated my carry-on and looked like it would also work for a larger, checked suitcase, but possibly not both. However, there is a luggage storage area in Terminal One. It’s located on the ground floor, along the inside wall, next to the Hertz Rental Car counter. (Check with the hotel before check-in in case this location changes.) Bag storage costs less than a dollar a day.

In this capsule hotel, the pod area is quite dark, lit only by eerie blue lights that allow you barely to see the number of you berth. I suggest you have your cell phone handy with a flashlight app at the ready. The sleeping pods, like Pullman berths, are arranged in two levels. To enter a lower berth, you need to get onto the floor and crawl in. For the upper berths, there are a few steps you climb up into your pod.

Cozy in my Izzzleep capsule, showing the control panel, safe, and large mirror.

Cozy in my Izzzleep capsule, showing the control panel, safe, and large mirror.

Once you’re inside your individual capsule, you’ll still want that flashlight to locate your control panel, below the large mirror. You can’t turn the lights on until you “energize the capsule” by inserting your key card into a slot on that panel. Slide in your card, then touch the button on the right side for the mirror light. This will light up the whole pod with white light. If you touch the button for the ceiling light, you will instead get a low, very blue fluorescent light, which might work well for those who like to sleep with a light on.

The control panel also has one three-prong electrical outlet, two USB outlets, and two headphone jacks, an emergency call button, a small combination safe, and a button to lock and unlock the door to your pod. There is a ventilation control knob and a clock. Finally, there is a large button that turns off all the lights in your capsule at once.

What Else is Inside the Capsule of Your Pod Hotel?

On the wall of the capsule are two hooks for hanging items, plus a small fire extinguisher. As you sit up in bed, there are also two reading lights directly over your head with a touch panel to operate them. The TV is situated overhead. You pull it down and operate it with the remote given to you at check-in.

Sitting up in bed, the TV is above and in front of. Here, I have my tray table in place on the bed.

The TV is above in front of you as you sit up in bed. (Shhh… you’re not supposed to have any food in your pod. Please don’t tell them I had a Starbucks latte and a cookie in there.)

There’s a foldable table/desk/tray hanging on one wall. I found it pretty easy to work on the clever contraption. You take it down from the wall, flip down the legs, and set it on the bed. It looks for all the world like one of those things people use to bring you breakfast-in-bed…should you be so lucky as to have one of those folks in your life (I unfortunately do not.) I imagined Jean Harlowe on satin sheets, a crepe de chine negligee falling just so from her shoulders, struggling to sit up against her fourteen satin pillows while a servant set her breakfast tray in front of her and threw open the curtains to let in the late morning sun. My situation was a bit less glamourous, but it got the job done. I was able to sit up on my bed, arrange my laptop and a notebook and type these notes.

The desk/table removed from the wall and unfolded to act as a bed tray, ready for working.

The desk/table/tray comes down from the wall and unfolds for working. (Oops, there’s that latte and cookie again…)

The “bedding” is not exactly luxurious, but it is serviceable. The sheet is one of those fitted things made of some unnatural cross between fabric and paper, sort of a felted non-woven surface. It’s not scratchy and some might find it comforting to be sleeping on a disposable sheet that’s never been slept on before. There is no blanket in the pod. You’ll find a blanket, as well as a bottle of water, in the locker where you leave your suitcase. Don’t forget to bring it into the capsule with you (ask me how I know this.)

Where and How Do I use the Bathroom in a Capsule Hotel?

Individual toilets and shower rooms are located just outside the pod area at Izzzleep Hotel.

There are individual toilet and shower rooms right outside the capsule area. They were both clean and the water was hot.

The toilet rooms and individual shower rooms are located right outside the darkened capsule area of the Izzzleep pod hotel. I thought they were fine. Everything was sparkling clean and there was plenty of hot water. The sinks and mirrors are communal, located in the locker area. They were also very clean.

The row of modern sinks and mirrors is used communally and is co-ed.

The sink area is communal. In this way, it feels a lot like you are in a hostel. (Photo by Izzzleep Capsule Hotel.)

So, what’s the bottom line on this spaceship/pullman/hostel hybrid called a pod hotel or a capsule hotel? Based on my single experience with Izzzleep, I’ll be back. I am small (just 5’ tall) and have never suffered from claustrophobia, so I had no issues at all with the size of the pod. It’s an inexpensive and convenient overnight option if you arrive in Mexico City very late or have an early flight out. I would also certainly use it if I had a long layover and was exhausted. The thought of a nap on a bed and a hot shower sure beats trying to get comfortable in a chair at the gate. And for the money, it’s a no brainer. I can have some genuine fun with the money I can save staying at Izzzleep instead of the Marriott next door.

Izzzleep Capsule Hotel at Terminal One, Juarez Airport, Mexico City: My final opinion. Give it a try. You might like it!


The front desk at Izzzleep is open 24 hours a day and I am assured that there is always someone there who speaks English. Reservations can be made at the Izzzsleep website (in Spanish only). The telephone number is (55) 2599 1434. If calling from the US, dial 011-52 before that number. Booking price is current as of July, 2018.

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Pedestrian walkway in the center of Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

Strolling Avenida Amsterdam in Condesa, Mexico City

Let’s go for a walk. In La Condesa, the hip and trendy neighborhood in Mexico City, let’s take a slow afternoon stroll along a paved path beneath trees in full leaf, surrounded by beautiful architecture, chic cafes and unexpected corners. Let’s discover another side to this crowded, cacophonous, sometimes overwhelming megalopolis. Let’s wander along the green and leafy peacefulness of the oval called Avenida Amsterdam.

 

La Condesa—A Place to Breathe Peace in a Crowded City

If you’ve never been to Mexico City, one of the largest and most congested urban megalopolises in the world, you probably have an image of what to expect—smog, noise, crowds, crazy traffic, noise, street vendors on every corner, noise, food stalls, beggars—roiling untidy noisy life in all its messy humanness. And in much of this great city, that image would not be far off the mark. With an estimated 25 million people in the greater metropolitan area—no one really knows for sure—the cacophony and assault on the senses is undeniable.

But Mexico City is far more than just that. It is also a city of world-class museums, amazing churches and other historical monuments, great centers of music and art, universities, parks, architecture to turn your head, friendly people, stellar food. And many pockets of green and peace and simple urban joy.

Pedestrian walkway in the center of Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

The pedestrian walkway, called a camellón, on the leafy green Avenida Amsterdam
in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.

One of my favorites of these peaceful, leafy spaces is in the heart of the chic, young artsy neighborhood of Condesa, sometimes called the SoHo of Mexico City. Let’s take a walk together and discover why I fell in love with Avenida Amsterdam on my recent trip to this not-to-be-missed city.

Colonia Hipódromo, the Original Heart of La Condesa

In the core of Barrio La Condesa in the very early 20th century, there used to be a popular horse racing track, called the Hipódromo. Its shape, the classic oval, still defines the area where horses once pounded the turf. When the racetrack moved out, green and people moved in. The center of the oval became the popular Parque Mexico, surrounded by Avenida Mexico. And around that, presumably where ladies in hats and men with cigars and fists full of pesos for betting used to sit and watch the racing thoroughbreds, runs Avenida Amsterdam.

It’s here we will travel today, at a much more leisurely pace than the horses did. We will stroll, stop for photos and gazing and breathing in the peace and perhaps a coffee or a chocolate treat. Since the street still runs in an oval, just as it did in its racetrack days, it’s pretty much impossible to get lost. So we can just start walking it anywhere and keep going. We’ll eventually end up back where we started.

Condesa has been a trendy part of the city since the early 20th century, when wealthy people began moving out of the Centro looking for more space and more green. Many of the buildings that line Avenida Amsterdam were built after the 1920s. The area is rich in Art Deco and Streamline Moderne style with some newer higher-rise apartment buildings. That makes it a great street for one of my favorite city activities—façade gazing.

House painted in black-and-white geometric pattern on Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

This house with its geometric paint job really stands out.

A colorful house on Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa-Mexico City

A more traditionally Mexican-looking home but with some early 20th-century influences visible.

An Art Deco style building in Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

Art Deco Style runs rampant throughout Barrio La Condesa in Mexico City

A "streamline moderne" style building in La Condesa, Mexico City

“Streamline Moderne” is another style you see frequently in this part of La Condesa in Mexico City

To say the Avenida Amsterdam is quiet is perhaps an overstatement. Mexicans, at least in the city, don’t really do quiet. I sometimes think they are actually uncomfortable when things get a little too quiet. But by Mexican standards, it’s peaceful and inviting. It’s a broad two-way street with a wide central pedestrian meridian called a camellón. This paved path is lined with plant beds and trees, benches, the odd sculpture here and there. It’s popular with doe-eyed young couples, new mothers with strollers, dogs walking their owners. The benches attract sitters, people watchers, readers and cell phone gazers. Work-out stations invite fitness mavens to come under the trees. And there are always runners.

Two young mothers with baby strollers on the Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

The “camellón” in the center of Avenida Amsterdam serves many purposes, including strolling with the baby.

Youn men working out on the Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

The young man on the left had just run past me a moment before, then returned on his hands, with a friend spotting him from behind. The young man on the right was taking advantage of a convenient work-out station.

Even on a hot day, it’s cool and pleasant in the shade of the elms and alders, oaks, palms and rubber trees. And jacarandas. I was there in early autumn, but I must go back in spring when all those jacaranda trees will create purple clouds of blossoms drifting above the camellón. Yes, I must do that; I must see that.

Original concrete benches, street signs and lampposts from the 1920s

The original concrete street signs, benches and lampposts on Avenida Amsterdam in Mexico City’s La Condesa neighborhood date to the 1920s.

The neighborhood is mostly still residential, but we do pass several chic shops, small businesses like the tailor and the dry cleaner, the electrical repair shop and the flower stall. And the cafes, bars, and restaurants. Because Avenida Amsterdam—indeed, much of Condesa—is café society central. We definitely won’t go hungry or thirsty on the oval Avenida.

We might stop for a coffee at Milo’s, a chic, deco-style spot suggested by the host of my AirBnb home. A friend and I went there for a snack one afternoon and it was exactly what we needed, perfect in every way. We shared a plate of Vietnamese rolls and each had a glass of delicious white wine seated at one of the sidewalk tables.

Milo's restaurant/bar on Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

Milo’s is a chic cafe/bar on Avenida Amsterdam in Mexico City

Vietnamese Rolls at Milo's, Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

Delicious Vietnamese Rolls at Milo’s on Avenida Amsterdam

Let’s stroll along a bit more, looking at the odd and delightful combination of Mexican architecture, a smattering of overdone French-accented pseudo-Gothic, and a lot of Art Deco through ‘50s Moderne buildings with some fading-glory-Mexican thrown into the mix for seasoning. This façade gazing is both art and diversion on Avenida Amsterdam and, indeed, throughout La Condesa. With unexpected nooks and crannies, with surprises tucked into unlikely places and with the Mexican love of saturated color, you’ll want to have your camera along. For those of us old enough to remember the phrase, Avenida Amsterdam definitely present a whole bunch of “Kodak moments.”

Pair of doors in an archway, Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

Is it just me, or do these doors on Avenida Amsterdam look just a bit “hobbit-y”??

A colorful blue house, Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

Mexicans love highly saturated color… seen everywhere in La Condesa, Mexico City

Steel constructed building with geodesic dome on the roof, Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

This one took me by surprise… a modern steel construction building with a geodesic dome on the roof!

Restaurant Matisse, Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

The Restaurant Matisse is a well-known gourmet experience on Avenida Amsterdam.

By now it’s quite likely we are hungry again! Good thing there are eateries of every type everywhere we look. With no previous research, and having had my fill of Mexican food, I’m voting for that Italian place I see on the corner of Michoacán and Amsterdam—Nonna Cucina Bar. Let’s take this nice outside table.

I’ve decided on the Pollo in Crosta di Limone, a smoked chicken breast with parsley sauce, topped with thinly sliced lemons and then grilled. It is served with a salad of spiral cut carrots, beets and zucchini with grilled peaches and is as pretty as it is tasty. It comes with a plate of lovely warm puffed-up pita bread and olive oil with balsamic for dipping.

While we are eating, an accordion player comes buy and stops to play a few songs before passing the hat among the customers. I don’t mind giving him a few pesos. I love living in a country that still has a robust job market for accordion players!

Polla in Crosta di Limone with salad at Nonna Cucina Bar, Avenida Amsterdam, Condesa, Mexico City

Pollo in Crosta di Limone with a salad of beets, carrots, zucchini and grilled peaches at Nonna Cucina Bar,
Avenida Amsterdam 240-1, La Condesa, Mexico City

Time to stroll some more and work off that meal. But soon we will want dessert. And the only possible place for that on Avenida Amsterdam, I am told, is Tout Chocolat at Amsterdam 154. It is chocolate heaven, I am told. Just go, I am told. Nothing else comes close, I am told. I always do as I am told… at least when it comes to chocolate.

So off we go to the pretty and classy shop on the corner owned by Luis Robledos Richards. He trained at the prestigious French Culinary Institute’s “Classic Pastry Arts” program and the Ecóle Lenotre in Paris, and then worked as head pastry chef at both Paris’ Le Cirque and the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. He’s been named one of the Top Ten Chocolatiers in North America and has won the World Chocolate Masters competition TWICE. Yeah, the guy has the creds. And now Mexico City gets the benefit. And so do we!

Tout Chocolat patisserie and chocolate shop, Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

Tout Chocolat, in La Condesa, where you can get some of the best and most innovative chocolate in Mexico City

Open the door. Close your eyes. Inhale. Ahhh… that smell. Pure chocolate decadence. What could be better? And remember, Mexico is where chocolate was first invented!

The beauty of the offerings is staggering and so are the choices. Chocolate bars, cakes, brownies. Truffles and hot chocolate and bonbons. Just a few of our flavor choices include: marshmallow or maracuya, spicy chia, white peach and apricot, hazelnut balls, lime caramel, mezcal truffles with sea salt (quite amazing and impossible to describe but YES!). Then there are pear chocolates, ginger chocolates, white chocolate, salted caramel chocolates…. Sorry, I am running out of room and drooling onto the keyboard here. But be sure I am buying some to take back with me!

Our stroll is nearly done as we return to the spot on the oval of Avenida Amsterdam where we began. The din of traffic notches back up a few decibels. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll explore more of this hip Condesa neighborhood. Or maybe pop over to Roma or Polanco. Or head into the Centro and check out the enormous central square called the Zócalo. Or marvel at the pre-Columbian treasures in the Anthropological Museum.

A flower stall on Avenida Amsterdam, La Condesa, Mexico City

Flowers to take back to a hotel room or an AirBnB temporary home.

Perhaps for now, we’ll just stop at that stand on the corner and pick up a bunch of bright flowers to take back to our room, a little something to bring a bit of the peace and color of Avenida Amsterdam with us. How nice to remember the pleasure of a slow stroll beneath the trees—the peace and the people, the food and the color, to take in this part of Mexico City that so many tourists never see.

And besides… chocolate!

 

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On my visit to Mexico City, I stayed in an accommodation I booked through AirBnB. Have you tried it yet? I love AirBnB and have used it in France, Spain, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Mexico and the US… so far! In expensive cities, like Amsterdam and Paris, I find I often save money over the cost of a hotel, and I love the convenience of having kitchen facilities. I even host guests in my own home in Mexico through AirBnB.

If you haven’t yet tried the service, consider signing up today. If you use this AirBnB link to register, you’ll get a $20 credit you can use towards your first booking. In some inexpensive locations, that’s like getting your first night free! And I will also get a credit towards my next booking, so I’ll be a happy Nomad Woman too! Don’t you love win-win?