By Travel & Leisure
May 20, 2009
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There is life in the easternmost reaches of Argentina's capital. Fashion impresario Alan Faena and design "bad boy" Philippe Starck have finally transformed an abandoned century-old grain depository into the 83-room Faena Hotel + Universe. The outside may be a prosaic brick box, but the inside is pure Starck: gold-leaf chairs, oversized chaise longues, and lots of claws, swans, and fleurs-de-lis. A seemingly endless, curtain-hemmed hallway lures guests to various corners of the "Universe," among them El Mercado, where warm medialunas are turned out every half-hour; El Living, a clubby lounge outfitted with chesterfields, art books, and exquisite antique lamps; and El Cabaret, a late-night stop for local bands and international DJ's. Conspicuously absent: reception and concierge desks. Instead, each guest is assigned three "experience managers" who are responsible for check-in, checkout, and fulfilling any wish, be it setting up a private tango lesson or simply securing a spare toothbrush. Faena Hotel + Universe, 445 Calle Martha Salotti, dique2; 54-11/4010-9000; www.faenahotelanduniverse.com; doubles from $300.
—Connie McCabe