The Cocker, San Telmo
Set amid the elegantly decaying 19th-century mansions of San Telmo—a Bueno Aires neighborhood that’s rapidly revitalizing— the five-room Cocker is a house in harmony with its surroundings: aristocratic, yet warm; traditional, yet full of felicitous surprises. It’s hard to decide which touch we find most endearing: the clever details like an old pull-lever cash register at the reception desk— straight from the nearby Sunday antiques market; the regal living room’s wall of eclectic art, which includes an intriguing Lucian Freud–style portrait of Ariel Sharon; or the classic movies that are screened on the stylish rooftop deck in the summer. All worthy of praise, but our vote goes to British owner Ian Spink’s hand-annotated map of the surrounding streets, given to guests upon check-in. Ian and his partner, Aidan, have personally vetted every café and restaurant they recommend, and their suggestions extend right down to the type of house wine you should order at the local parrillas to avoid a morning headache. Trust them.
Tailor Made Hotel, Las Cañitas
On a Sunday afternoon, you’ll have a hard time finding a district more peaceful than Las Cañitas, in the north end of the city near the polo grounds. Saturday night, it’s a different story, as pedigreed Porteños descend on its restaurants and bars en masse. One street (and a world) away from the hullabaloo sits six-month-old Tailor Made. Though its five rooms are decidedly spare—crisp, white linens and bare walls are set off by dark wool throws—they are brimming with high-tech amenities. Each room comes with a flat-screen TV that doubles as a computer, thanks to a mini Mac hard drive, and a phone that operates using VoiP, which means most calls are free. (If you want a loaner cell phone, just ask the front desk.) Add to that complimentary laundry service and breakfast next door at the restaurant Novecento, and you have a property that, for all its design austerity, is full of personality. Our favorite perk?The hotel’s pair of hip retro bikes—perfect for pedaling through the local parks on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
Krista Hotel Boutique, Palermo Hollywood
Past and present coexist with remarkable grace in Buenos Aires; for evidence, one need only book a room at the Krista. Housed in a restored early-20th-century mansion, the property reflects its history in the elaborate moldings, wood paneling, and black-and-white marble floors that fill its public spaces. Stained-glass windows and doors open onto a series of interior courtyards lined by the hotel’s 10 simple yet colorful rooms. (The super-private Borges room, which overlooks the back courtyard, is worth the extra $30.) For a taste of the present, just step outside to the burgeoning Palermo Hollywood district, where some of the city’s hottest restaurants—along with the editing studios that give the area its name—have been setting up shop.
Costa Petit Hotel, Palermo Soho
If your Argentine fantasy includes polo mallets, saddlebags, and other equestrian accoutrements, look no further than this patrician hotel in the calm northern reaches of Palermo Viejo, an area recently dubbed Palermo Soho. Costa Petit’s Ralph Lauren–gone-estancia aesthetic, wrapped in pale greens and white, carries through its four, large rooms, which are filled with antique armoires and vanity sinks, wainscoting, and brass fixtures polished with such dedication that you may have to open your French doors to air the room upon arrival. Set in the hotel’s grass-and-honeysuckle-filled courtyard is a serene pool—a rarity among the city’s small hotels. After you’ve spent a day shopping along Palermo’s tree-lined blocks, there’s no better way to revive yourself than with a quick dip followed by a sunset cocktail on your balcony.