Argentina's Finest Hotels
Published: April 2009
By Celeste Moure
The Alvear Palace may still be the gold standard, but with four newly minted retreats, Buenos Aires's hotel scene just got a little more gilded.
Home Hotel Buenos Aires
THE LOOK The brainchild of porteña Patricia O'Shea and her English husband, ex-record producer Tom Rixton, Home became the biggest boutique hotel in the Palermo neighborhood (thanks, in part, to the investment of U2's producer, Flood) when it opened last December. Scandinavian design, vintage French wallpaper, and a beautiful staff make this the home you wish you had.
THE SCENE British expats and hipster Americans in Diesel jeans and Prada sunglasses discuss music and film in the garden over cocktails and tapas. On Friday nights, Rixton and his DJ friends kick off the poolside party, with potent vodka concoctions passed around.
THE ROOMS All brushed concrete and understated Saarinen furnishings, the 17 muted rooms and two spacious suites are brought to life by vivid floral wall coverings and flower-filled window boxes. The showstopper is the secluded Garden Suite—its private plunge pool and rooftop terrace are perfect for hosting your own pool party.
THE SERVICE Upon arriving at a concierge-recommended ethnic restaurant in the neighborhood, we were pleased to discover that the hotel had called ahead—the maître d' greeted us by name and promptly seated us at a desirable table.
THE AMENITIES No breakfast buffet here. Instead, Home serves guests a small but delicious selection of medialunas (croissants) and breads, with fresh marmalades prepared by the owner's grandmother, as well as yogurt and exotic smoothies (try the celery, pineapple, and ginger). Don't miss the antioxidant grape wrap at the spa.
DIRTY SECRET There's a lot of construction going on in this trendy Palermo neighborhood, so don't be shocked if you wake up to the sound of a jackhammer.
NICE SURPRISE We loved the thyme- and-verbena bath soaps made by a local artisan especially for the hotel. 5860 Calle Honduras; 54-11/4778-1008; www.homebuenosaires.com; doubles from $115.
Palacio Duhau, Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
THE LOOK Originally built in 1934 by French architect León Dourge for the Duhau family, the hotel shares the block with two other stunning Neoclassical buildings. The entire estate merges innovative design with ironwork, crystal chandeliers, and gardens that recall the Belle Époque; this Park Hyatt may redefine luxury in the Argentine capital.
THE SCENE Expect diplomats and CEO's mingling with socialites in the bar and Baccarat Room. At teatime, Chanel-clad ladies of a certain age take over the elegant Piano Nobile lounge and terrace.
THE ROOMS An underground walkway and gallery connect the classical Palacio and its 23 guest rooms with a new building housing 142 rooms. All have hardwood floors, exquisite fabrics, and marble bathrooms—and every room includes butler service. IPod nanos loaded with everything from classical music to tango are available upon request.
THE SERVICE The multilingual staff knows the city inside and out and can arrange anything from a private backstage tour of the iconic Teatro Colón to an outing with a personal shopper.
THE AMENITIES Before dinner at the exclusive Duhau Restaurant, where wood-grilled dishes emphasize fresh ingredients, stop at the Vinoteca. The sommelier and maître fromager will pair wines from among 3,500 bottles of Argentine vintages with the best regional cheeses. The Ahin Spa, which takes its name from the language of the ancient Mapuche tribe of southern Argentina, has luxurious treatments with Comfort Zone products, an indoor heated pool, and an expansive fitness studio.
DIRTY SECRET Guests must sign up and pay a daily fee for Wi-Fi and broadband.
NICE SURPRISE Museum-worthy paintings and sculptures by local and international artists such as Guillermo Roux, Toutain, and Guerrero Medina are everywhere, as well as in the underground gallery, Paseo de las Artes. 1661 Avda. Alvear; 888/591-1234 or 54-11/5171-1234; www.buenosaires.park.hyatt.com; doubles from $410.
Esplendor de Buenos Aires
THE LOOK Located in a Neoclassical building near the Borges Cultural Center, Esplendor has the vibe of a modern art museum—note the floating staircase, white walls, and massive portraits of Argentine icons (Che Guevara, Eva Perón) made of unorthodox materials such as cookies, bullets, and thread.
THE SCENE Mostly South American business types, Brazilian couples, and families on a shopping spree.
THE ROOMS The 51 rooms are done in seven different cheerful colors and have tall mirrors and Bertoia steel-mesh chairs. Nobody comes to B.A. for a quiet getaway, but if street noise bothers you, request a room facing the drab but quiet inner patio.
THE SERVICE A maintenance person arrived immediately to change a dead lightbulb by our bedside table and help with the Wi-Fi connection. The biggest glitch: the list of traditional cafés and tango halls we requested was never delivered to our room.
THE RESTAURANT Natural light pours into the spacious restaurant, where moldings and vintage mirrors have been perfectly restored, and the lunch menu is surprisingly affordable. Best dish: seared Patagonian lamb with orange zest-roasted baby eggplant.
DIRTY SECRET We missed having a bathrobe to lounge around in, especially after taking advantage of the in-room Jacuzzi tubs in the executive suites.
NICE SURPRISE We loved the 13-foot-tall ceilings (only in the first-and second-floor rooms) and the French doors, which open out onto Evita-worthy balconies. 780 Calle San Martín; 54-11/5256-8800; www.esplendorbuenosaires.com; doubles from $155.
725 Buenos Aires Hotel
THE LOOK On one of B.A.'s busiest streets, this beautiful 1927 Art Deco hexagonal building has an interior that could stand in for a Design Within Reach showroom. Eames, Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier pieces are everywhere.
THE SCENE Because of its close proximity to office buildings and the theater district, the hotel's sleek bar has become a popular spot for martini lunches and pre-show cocktails.
THE ROOMS The 192 rooms, designed by Argentine studio Urgell-Penedo-Urgell, represent a who's who of Modernist style, updated with black-and-white photographs of local urban landscapes, hardwood floors, calculated mood lighting, and floor-to-ceiling silk curtains. Bathrooms are decked out in Carrara marble and Philippe Starck fittings.
THE SERVICE Though the staff is fast, efficient, and courteous, we were disappointed with the shopping-mall brochures and dining directory the concierge handed us when we inquired about recommendations for top-end stores and private dining clubs.
THE AMENITIES Every two weeks, chef Javier González Alemán changes the menu at Cetrino, the second-floor restaurant. An example of his European, Asian, and Latin fusion: the delicious mussel-and-prawn risotto with beans, almonds, and lemongrass. There's a pool, sauna, massage room, and bar on the top floor.
DIRTY SECRET Avoid the rooms ending in -01, which are directly across from the constantly beeping elevators.
NICE SURPRISE The rooftop bar, with its outdoor heated swimming pool and comfortable daybeds, is the perfect spot to enjoy a sunset cocktail. 725 Avda. Roque Saenz Peña; 54-11/4131-8000; www.725buenosaireshotel.com; doubles from $260.