La Purificadora, the Perfect Hotel for a Giant Letdown

I love staying in unique hotels, and when we were investigating where to stay for our visit to Puebla, Mexico, this member of the Design Hotels, La Purificadora Hotel in Puebla, looked exactly the way I like my hotels. Old charm, fully renovated and with great style, and it made perfect sense for us to book it since we wanted to be in the middle of town.

We booked with cash as it was at a price point we were comfortable paying (and I of course paid with our SPG card to get points), and we were joined by my mom and sister who were on a tour de Mexico for a few weeks, so two rooms were in order. Since we’re on the final stretch to saying goodbye to Starwood, we tried booking our trip with them in as many SPG properties as possible so that we would achieve our Lifetime Platinum status with Marriott after August 18th.

We landed at MEX and headed straight to our rental car and onward to Puebla, about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Mexico City. It was rather complicated finding the hotel, since it’s tucked behind the Convention Center and you have to drive down this 100ft alleyway with almost no visible signage, but once we did, we were parked right outside of this awesome property.

At check-in, we were greeted as platinum guests and given our keys to our very standard rooms. Since this would have been our 74th stay at an SPG this year and I wasn’t born yesterday, I decided to pull up the all too useful SPG app. Yup, like I thought, upgrades were available, albeit for one night. I did notice, though, that there were slightly larger rooms available, and even if they were truly on the same category, I would have liked to have been offered a room with a balcony. We were told those were not really available and that the app wasn’t showing the right information, possibly because our American phones were not updating correctly. Erm, ok.

Once we got to our room, which was very nice, we could hear the music from the restaurant coming in from the windows. Turns out the rooms faced a side of the building adjacent to a park, which was lovely, but together with the view we also got all of the noise.

San Francisco Park

San Francisco Park

Room swap number one.

We asked whether it was possible to switch to the quieter, not-so-great view side of the building. They were (less than) happy to oblige. By this time my mom and sister had already unpacked their stuff, so they had to re-pack and swap.

Once in our new rooms – this time with balconies, because surprise, surprise, they had magically become available – we proceeded to unpack and get on with our day.

Room swap number two.

After five hours touring around the lovely Puebla, we came back to our rooms. We had left the AC on so that it would be comfortable by the time we got back. The hotel doesn’t keep the AC running while rooms are unoccupied, and I appreciate their not being wasteful. The room was 82F. Eighty two freaking degrees. We called maintenance to have it fixed, and they said they would send someone immediately. We left for dinner and when we came back two hours later, the room was 84F.

I had taken a sleeping pill with dessert so by the time we got to our room I was already feeling like jelly. Jon was furious and stormed downstairs to talk to the front desk again. They sent someone who pulled some things apart and after ten minutes said he had fixed it. I passed out. Forty minutes later I wake up covered in sweat and Jon is screaming at the maintenance guy who’s in our room again. Hadn’t done shit but I guess he figured we wouldn’t notice the 84 degree room.

This part I do not recall, but as per Jon, we moved to a different room at around midnight. This time it was (yet another available balcony room!) but back on the noisy side of the building, just one floor higher. I only found out when I woke up and walked straight into the glass closet which was *slightly* off when compared to the previous room. This is when he filled me in on the drama.

Smoke break

That second day we decided to take a break from walking around all day and spent some time on the rooftop pool, which is pretty cool. Swam for a while until it got a bit chilly, and then when we jumped out of the pool we noticed there were people smoking on the deck. I remember seeing a ‘this establishment is 100% smoke free’ sign upon check-in. For good measure, there were signs on the rooftop every twenty feet or so apart.

When we asked the bar employee, he reassured us that ‘yes, this is a 100% smoke free hotel’, but that if we wanted to smoke we could do it on the rooftop, on our room balconies and on the outside area of the restaurant. You can imagine my face when he brought us a freaking ashtray to our table. I mentioned I would be complaining to management because it made absolutely no sense, and he pointed to someone in the rooftop who was the manager. The manager was, in fact, smoking. Great.

Getting the venue ready for a wedding

Getting the venue ready for a wedding

Late check-out

On our last day, we knew we wanted to walk around and do everything we didn’t get the chance to do earlier so we went downstairs to request a late check-out. We were greeted by the same lady who had lied to us about not having any available rooms on check-in. When we asked for a 2pm late checkout, she said she couldn’t honor it since it’s always based on availability. If you’ve stayed at a Design Hotel, you know they don’t offer Platinum guests the full array of benefits, and late check-out is indeed one of those. But it is based on availability.

Once again, I pull out the handy SPG app. And once again, there are rooms available. And not only are there rooms available, THERE ARE FIVE ROOMS AVAILABLE. At this point I had had it with this lady, but when I told her that she was flat out lying, she replied that she meant no disrespect but that I was wrong… NOPE. Bye, we’re not having a conversation any longer.

SPG App Availability

SPG App Availability

We walked out, went for lunch, called out SPG ambassador and she took care of it, as usual. We came back to our rooms at 1:50pm and were out of it at exactly 2pm. The lady at the counter was less than thrilled. The manager approached us -yup, the one who was smoking on the rooftop- and profusely apologized for our less than optimal experience and offered to double the points for our stay, which was very kind. At the same time, it does little to address the issues at this hotel, which are mainly that the staff is OK with lying to guests multiple times and not enforcing their own rules when it comes to smoking.



I for once loved this hotel, as it visually ticked off everything on my list of wants. However, I wouldn’t recommend staying here unless you’re OK with having to argue to get the upgrade you’re entitled to and don’t mind everyone around you smoking cigarettes.

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. They didn’t give you hell about the rental car insurance in MEX?

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    • We brought all the insurance paperwork to show we did not have to pay for their ridiculous insurance. We only had to pay once when we visited Puerto Vallarta because they would not let us drive away without signing the paperwork, but we later disputed the charge once we came back home by showing the terms and conditions of the rental and our insurance paperwork. Fool me once…

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  2. If the “Purifier” allows smoking, then who can you trust? Next time you could book one of the 68 degree rooms at the “Enfriador,” also Design Hotels, I think.

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    • In their defense, they used to purify *water*, not air 😂

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