When it opened its doors in 1936, Ciro’s, the nightclub on the top floor of the luxurious Hotel Reforma, became the most fashionable spot in Mexico City. Diego Rivera painted the murals on its walls. According to a book by Armando Jiménez, one night in 1944, management received a telephone call, putatively from the Swedish Embassy, that Greta Garbo was on her way, landing in Mexico City from an Acapulco holiday, and wished to remain incognito. “Garbo” — in fact, a French model — arrived with an entourage, rented the hotel’s Presidential Suite, consumed various bottles of champagne and cognac, signed for them and disappeared without paying.
Tragedy as well as comedy occurred at the Reforma. Three years earlier, in 1941, W.J. Cash, a U.S. writer in Mexico City on a Guggenheim Fellowship, was found hanging from his necktie in the bathroom of his hotel suite. Although deemed a suicide, there is some controversy over whether or not his death was actually a murder. Cash was an active anti-Nazi — he’d written dozens of newspaper editorials against them — and at the time Mexico City was alleged to be a hotbed of Nazi spies.
The greatest tragedy is perhaps the demise of the hotel itself. Having been eclipsed by other luxury hotels along the Paseo de la Reforma, it has remained empty for decades.