Buenos Aires Hotels
Tel: 54 11 3530 7777
Housed in a 1912 French classical villa in the capital's embassy-studded Recoleta district, this ten-room property underwent a three-year renovation. The result is visually impressive mise-en-scènes that exude a quiet sense of wealth, favoring discreet technology and imported woods over glitz and gold. Throughout the restored interior of Slovenian oak parquet and Belle Époque plasterwork are sumptuous yet understated modern fittings. The ample rooms are artfully decorated with ebony-and-leather furniture, silk curtains, and suede wall fabrics, and the bathrooms are fitted with 80-jet showersin the larger suites, bathtubs feature underwater speakers. The staff's formal attitude is tailored to please visiting power brokers and local Recoleta gentry, who are appointed a personal butler and soothed by a free massage on arrival. And traveling chief executives looking to impress clients will find little to disappoint in the walk-in humidor lined with Spanish cedar, the rooftop plunge pool edged in teak, or the French-inspired restaurant with its oxblood acrylic walls and scarlet leather banquettes.
1891 Avenida Alvear
Tel: 54 11 4808 2100
At the Alvear Palace—widely considered the top hotel in South America—it's still possible to feel as rich, as they used to say, as an Argentine. The colossal neoclassical chateau, which dominates a gilded swath of Recoleta studded with Cartier, Polo, and Zegna outposts, has been the focus of Buenos Aires high society ever since its polished brass doors opened in 1932. These days, the 197-room grande dame remains in exceptional form, from the attentive bilingual butlers to the opulent suites full of Louis XV-style furniture. Guests should be sure to have a tipple in the magnificent Lobby Bar, where the local upper crust and visiting sultans gather for cocktails, gossip, and political intrigue. The Alvear's top-notch French restaurant, La Bourgogne, is the country's only Relais Gourmands establishment.
Tel: 54 11 4821 4744
When you step into the Art Hotellocated where the tony barrios of Recoleta and Barrio Norte intersectyou might feel as if you've wandered into an art gallery. As it turns out, you have: The ground-floor lobby of this smart, Euro-style "hotel de chârme" doubles as a gallery space devoted to contemporary painting, and the entire spacea radiantly revamped 1929-built townhouse with 36 well-appointed roomssuggests that great care has been taken with every aesthetic decision. Highlights include the elegant, twisting marble staircase; the assorted curlicued ironwork; and the rooms themselves, some of which have canopy beds, and all of which have refined, minimalist furnishings.
Tel: 54 11 4774 0505
Bourgeois and bohemian, rebel and conservative.…The various slogans of this chic little oasis are improbably taken from a book by the American political pundit David Brooks (Bobos in Paradise, about the emerging class of "bourgeois bohemians"). Even more improbably, the slogans almost make sense in context. Situated on a dappled tree-lined block in Palermo Viejo, the Bobo is both a hipster hangout and an urbane boutique hotel, as evidenced by its inviting lobby café restaurant (featuring an inspired Argentine-Mediterranean-Asian menu), with its sleek furnishings, grenadine-hued velvet curtains, pulsing electronica soundtrack, and black-uniformed staff. Housed in a 1920s mansion, the hotel's 15 airy rooms range in style from minimalist to Art Deco to "Argentinean" (a top-floor suite with a skylighted Jacuzzi), and many come equipped with their own private balconies.
1823 Avenida Callao
Tel: 54 11 4515 0085
Amid prestigious apartment buildings and museums and art galleries, CasaSur is aimed at those seeking the cachet and convenience of a Recoleta address at an affordable price. The corner of Callao and Quintana ranks among the costliest real estate in the country, and this 36-room hotel projects itself commensurately, with a lobby of lacquered rosewood filled with scented candles and fresh lilies, a fastidiously finished interior with acoustic-layered wall fabrics that dampen ambient sound, and staff who exude formality and discretion. Room decor favors traditional elegance over experiment, with gold silk and black velvet softening robust furniture and lapacho-wood flooring. Yet the building itself is almost anorexic in its proportions, with 13 floors soaring over a lot barely 30 feet wide. As a result, the standard rooms feel somewhat cramped, and steam from the spa's super-heated plunge pool billows directly into the massage parlor. Nevertheless, catering company Croque Madame, which operates a string of cafés in patrician locations, serves well-presented tapas in the wine bar and delivers itand fruit-laden breakfasts on silver plattersto guests' rooms.
5185 Emilio Zolá
Tel: 54 11 4772 0289
This impossibly cute little red "guest house" on a colorful and quiet side street in Palermo Soho is a great (and inexpensive) find. The minimalist decor matches the minimal tariffs, making the traditional Palermo home with its small courtyard a favorite of both the bohemian and backpacking crowds. Three of the nine rooms have private bathrooms, and some don't, but all are functional and spotless, including the Romper Room-like attic accommodation (the keepers of Che Lulu like to call it a "pop Eastern space") known as Tres Geishas. The young staff is friendly and informed, and the breakfast—coffee, medialunas (croissants), and dulce de leche—is excellent.
458 Avenida Juan de Garay
Tel: 54 11 4362 8451
San Telmo was once the city's wealthiest district, with row after row of neocolonial townhouses and mansions. An 1871 yellow-fever epidemic sent the barrio into long decline, but a gritty, streetwise crowd is starting to return, drawn by antiques markets, no-frills parrilla steakhouses, and swinging late-night bars. Aptly, the Cocker, a four-room design B&B, is a case study in urban rescue. Squeezed into a four-storey sliver of a once-grandiose mansion, it has pinotea floors, handmade wrought-iron window frames, and soaring ceilings along with renovated antique chairs, sofas, and beds, and even a Chappell grand piano, all displayed with theatrical flair in the five idiosyncratic rooms: Old balustrades now frame a monster bed in one room, and a four-poster supports a "floating" bathroom in another, while cushions, drapes, and yards of muslin transform ordinary nooks into intimate dens. The twisting corridors and spiral staircases invite exploration—but also present a challenge to those burdened with heavy luggage—eventually opening onto a pretty terrace garden planted with honeysuckle and jasmine.
5141 Costa Rica
Tel: 54 11 4776 8296
Aimed at low-profile travelers with impeccable taste, Costa Petit is a design-minded boutique hotel in Buenos Aires' Palermo Soho district. The two rooms and two suites are decorated with velvet, restored wood furniture, and rustic wall paneling. The owners, cabinetmaker Diego Padilla and interior decorator Eugenia Chorén, salvaged 19th-century lamps, wicker sofas, club chairs, and aged pinotea ceilings from architectural demolition sales.They also found new uses for old curios: a wrought-iron baby crib functions as a towel stand, and planks of caldén hardwood, cut cross-grain like butcher's block, now serve as robust flooring. The property was once a mechanic's workshop: A vehicle inspection bay has been transformed into a turquoise-tiled pool, surrounded by a brace of Italian cypresses and a lone olive in the jasmine-draped garden. Space is too cramped for a restaurant, but the staff serves a sumptuous in-room breakfast and can arrange anything from yoga sessions or polo practice to a day's yachting on the Río de la Plata.
445 Martha Salotti
Tel: 54 11 4010 9000
"It's not just a hotel," the people who run this monstrous property in chic Puerto Madero Este (a.k.a. the Tribeca of B.A.) will tell you, "it's a universe." They may have a point. The buzz has died down a bit since it opened in 2004, but the 110-room Faena Hotel + Universe—the brainchild of Argentinean fashion guru Alan Faena and design superstar Philippe Starck—intends to be an all-purpose 21st-century Baroque fun house. The former granary, a hulking brick structure from 1902, contains two formal restaurants, including the Alice in Wonderland–inspired El Bistro; a produce market; hopping nightclub; luxe spa with hammam; wine cellar for tasting parties; and jasmine-hedged outdoor pool. Usefully, the hotel assigns you an "experience manager" who can hook you up with tango lessons, polo matches, or just a compass to help you get around.
Tel: 54 11 3220 6800
Lyrical, innovative design is common in the many small hotels in the fashionable quarter of Palermo, yet many overlook the basics. The Fierro swims against that current by focusing on core needs. Well-sited among the boutiques and bars, its 27 spacious, soundproofed rooms have king-size beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, and hypoallergenic goose-down pillows. The decor is aggressivesleek furniture, abstract art, textured wallpaper. Helped by the informed, amiable staff, guests see the sights by day, and return at dusk to the rooftop plunge pool, or to sip Mendoza Malbec in the walled garden, or dine in chef Hernán Gipponi's outstanding restaurant, where zesty dishes employ seasonal ingredients: grilled sea bream with garlic, almonds, and artichokes; or seasoned scallops with cream of fennel, celery, and lime. Pairings from the inspired wine selection are ably offered by the well-informed wait staff.
Tel: 54 11 4808 1200
A favorite choice of such diverse guests as Robbie Williams and Fidel Castro (can't you just imagine them partying together?), the lordly, 165-room Four Seasons Buenos Aires is, in fact, two hotels in one. There's the 13-story tower built in 1992 (formerly the Park Hyatt), with its flower-filled lobby and elegantly mod, amenity-rich guest rooms (the decor incorporates lots of dark wood and luxurious but calm-colored fabrics). But the real jewel is out back, next to the pool: La Mansión, a fanciful Belle Époque manor, complete with Louis XIII-style lobbies, banquet rooms, and 2,000-square-foot suites done up in Carrara marble and Slovenian oak. And if that still seems like a tight squeeze, you can always rent the whole mansion.
351 Macacha Güemes
Tel: 54 11 4891 0000
The gleaming, futuristic Hilton Buenos Aires, designed by the esteemed Argentinean modernist Mario Roberto Álvarez, opened in 2000 in ultra-chic (and rapidly developing) Puerto Madero Este, formerly a landscape of 19th-century docks and warehouses. The Hilton played a starring role in the 2000 Argentine film Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens), and it retains a certain kind of glass-and-chrome glamour, particularly in the breathtaking seven-floor atrium lobby. Many of the 414 amenity-stuffed rooms—and the stunning rooftop pool—have sweeping views of the old docklands and the wilds of the Costanera Sur ecological reserve.
Tel: 54 11 4778 1008
Aimed at the hip, partying crowd increasingly drawn to Buenos Aires' late-night pleasures, Home was the first hotel to open in fashionable Palermo Hollywood. Brainchild of British music producer Tom Rixton and his Argentinean wife, Patricia O'Shea, the 20-bed property is within stumbling distance of fashion stores, film studios, and a bunch of modish bars and restaurants that never seem to close. Guests can fire up the fiesta at Home's bar, where maestro barmen mix signature cocktails like the rosemary and sorrel vodka martini. The rooms, enlivened with strips of vintage French wallpaper, have Eliel Saarinen-designed queen beds, while suites have king beds, sofas, hot tubs, and balconies. Two aptly named palo borracho ("drunk trunk") trees stand guard over a jasmine-draped deck, a parrilla (grill), and lush gardens. A basement spa offers Ayurvedic, Shiatsu, and Esalen treatments.
Tel: 54 11 4834 6166
This stylish town house in the Palermo Soho is owned by Francis Ford Coppola, who spent two years in the terra-cotta-painted house before opening it as a tastefully rustic and homey property, with patinaed brick floors, indigenous Peruvian tapestries, and floor lamps fashioned from willow. Guests can splurge on the whole house or choose either the two-bedroom wing with a pergola and a scent-laden herb garden or the main building's 1,400-square-foot four-bedroom upper floor. Both sections overlook the courtyard garden, where the silence is broken only by the song of mockingbirds. The service is ultra-discreet: A manager, concierge, and sommelier are on hand, but they're usually out of sight (cell phone at the ready) unless required. Breakfast, prepared by a local pâtissier, is delivered daily, and for dinner, guests can dine locally or do as Coppola didfeast on an Argentine-style barbecue.
2189 Eduardo Schiaffino
Tel: 54 11 4804 9631
This low-key European-style accommodation benefits from a superb location: Set at the intersection of various parks (including Plaza Francia and Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays), the hotel sits within striking distance of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, the Buenos Aires Design Center, and most notably, the vast Recoleta Cemetery, the high-rent resting place of, among other Argentinean icons, Evita Perón. The surrounding greenery makes for stately views, particularly from the upper-story balcony rooms that look out over the Río de la Plata. The interiors of the 48 rooms won't win any design awards, but they're clean and well appointed.
Tel: 54 11 4833 1300
Fastidiously neat Legado Mítico enjoys the best of both worlds: Superbly located at the heart of Palermo Viejo, Buenos Aires' food-and-fashion quarter, it sits on a quiet block lined with jacaranda and rosewood trees. Here, hotelier Javier Figueroa has created a hotel firmly rooted in Argentine culture. Each of the 11 rooms evokes a cultural figure, ranging from Jorge Luis Borges and Che Guevara to Eva Perón. The decor varies subtly from one guest room to the next, with rustic wood and rough-hewn stone, for example, in El Gaucho (inspired by fictional cowherd Martín Fierro) and academic and feminine touches in La Mecenas (evoking woman of letters Victoria Ocampo). Books, photos, and films relating to each personality are displayed in a sitting room, which opens onto a poplar-lined patio. There is no real restaurant, but the agreeable staff will happily prepare sandwiches and other simple meals and serve food ordered from local eateries.
Tel: 54 11 4318 3000
The stately Plaza Hotel—with its elegant French facade overlooking the leafy oasis of Plaza San Martín—has been a Buenos Aires landmark ever since opening its doors in 1909. Designed by Alfred Zucker (whose best-known work is St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York), the nine-story Plaza—once upon a time the Buenos Aires Ritz—has a rich history of attracting royalty, cattle barons, and the globe-trotting polo crowd. Marriott snapped up the legendary luxury establishment in 1994 and has astutely combined modern amenities (the hotel was further renovated in 2003) with classic, white-glove sophistication, all at pretty reasonable prices. Be sure to log some time at the handsome Plaza Bar, a favorite Art-Deco haunt of B.A.'s movers and shakers.
Tel: 54 11 6091 2000
In 1929, modernist architect Johannes Kronfuss designed a dramatic Art Deco edifice two blocks from the Casa Rosada, Argentina's presidential palace. Despite being declared a heritage building, Kronfuss's creation fell into ruin in the 1990s, along with much of the Montserrat district. Recently renovated as a 39-room hotel, the seven-story building has a graceful fluted stone exterior, while an accordion-gated elevator still clunks past landings lit by stained glass windows. Rooms range in size from the generous to the enormous; all have 13-foot ceilings, expansive iron-framed windows, and Art Deco-style furniture upholstered in iridescent sea green. Don't be afraid to ask for extras like babysitters, personal trainers, or masseurs—inexplicably, the youthful staff may forget to detail what's on offer. Guests may also customize the contents of their minibar or borrow a laptop.
Tel: 54 11 4121 6464
The Spanish-owned NH Hoteles has become the hippest chain in town, favored by tourists and business visitors for style and location. Its highlight property is the City & Tower, a stone's throw from the Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo. The "City" portion, a 303-room, 1931 Art Deco palace, opened in 2000; the tower is slightly newer, with its 66 rooms in granite and dark wood, offset with lime and mustard-shaded furniture. (The seventh-floor rooms have terraces.) Nehru-jacketed staff members pad silently along corridors hung with modern works by Argentine artists. Worth noting, too, is the 1928-built sister property, NH Jousten—long a favorite hangout of the Buenos Aires upper crust, having hosted the likes of Juan and Evita Perón in their day.
280 Avenida Corrientes
Tel: 54 11 4321 6750
The stylish 84-room Jousten hotel, built in 1928, was long a favorite hangout of the Buenos Aires upper crust, hosting the likes of Juan and Evita Perón. After a long decline, the storied property was bought by the Spanish NH chain and returned to its original charm: The Jousten's ornate white facade is a beauty, a kind of Art Deco–era Venetian palazzo, and the interiors—with painted Spanish tiles, generous wood moldings, and ornate columns—suggest a felicitous marriage of modern boutique-hotel design and Old World European-style luxury. The central location—near the Plaza de Mayo and looking out over Puerto Madero—makes it one of the top business and tourist hotels in town.
1661 Avenida Alvear
Tel: 54 11 5171 1234
Shaded by centennial gomero and tipa trees, and well situated between the Vatican's palatial embassy and the Addams Familystyle Residencia Maguire, Park Hyatt's 165-room Palacio Duhau has made a splash since opening in June 2006. Divided between a restored Belle Époque mansion and a contemporary addition (museum-quality art, renewed every 45 days, is displayed in an underground walkway connecting the two buildings), the hotel's paneled corridors and light-filled lounges ooze discreet wealth. There's marble aplenty if you look for it, but the emphasis is on classic materials and clean lines, with low-slung leather furniture, frosted-glass lamps, and pale wood tempering the mansion's ornate original plasterwork. It's difficult to fault the 500-label wine library, the on-site cheese store, and a bar with 17th-century oak (the Duhau family's former safe now houses the bar's collection of cognac and cigars), nor the soothing air of the gym and spa, with a phalanx of attendants, myriad treatment suites, and an Olympic-size swimming pool.
1193 Avenida Leandro N. Alem
Tel: 54 11 4318 9100
They say you can see all the way to Uruguay from the upper reaches of this 23-floor luxury high-rise, a strikingly mod edifice—and handy orientation landmark—overlooking Plaza San Martín. The views inside the hotel are pretty impressive, too: There are the 181 Biedermeier- and antique-filled rooms (including the outsize Presidential Suite); the elegant Lobby Lounge; the welcoming Crystal Garden restaurant; and the soothing outdoor pool (open seasonally), watched over by the Torre de los Ingleses, B.A.'s version of Big Ben. Appealing to corporate-carders and pop stars alike, it's no that wonder the Park Tower—which is conjoined with the neighboring Sheraton—ends up on so many "best of" lists.
Tel: 54 11 4131 0123
Stellar service is the draw at the 144-room Sofitel Buenos Airesfor instance, the concierge once sourced a pedigreed dog at short notice for one demanding guestbut comfort comes in a close second. A 1928 Art Deco tower, flanked by two neoclassical wings, houses 144 cleanly styled rooms decorated with pastel tones, leather furniture, and black-and-white photographs of Paris. Fresh flowers in each bathroom complement the subtle use of aromatherapy scents. The standard suites are spacious enough, but the presidential suite encompasses the entire 17th floor, complete with Indochinese decor and a view stretching across the Río de la Plata to Uruguay. Sip on a well-mixed martini in Café Arroyo, sample French gastronomy in the Le Sud restaurant, or simply curl up with a book in La Bibliotèque, a cozy nook draped with velvet.
Tel: 54 11 4776 5030
Named for its three-floor facade of multicolored glass, the 16-room Vitrum Hotel punches noticeably above its weight. Its light-filled interior is lined with exposed concrete columns, gantries, and catwalks. There is a 40-seat sushi restaurant and a curated art space that is open to a garden of water hyacinths and epiphytes laid out by 1970s movie star turned landscape architect Chunchuna Villafañe. The modern, minimalist rooms are decorated with retro-style chrome chairs, vinyl lamps, and carob-wood tables, many inspired by Sixties design godfather Alberto Churba. (Three rooms are pet-friendly: Maids leave a doggie sweet on the bed at night.) There's no escaping the hotel's urban location, but the bleak facade of a next-door television studio is partly hidden by three mature Italian cypresses, while Palermo's most glamorous nightspots cluster close by.—Colin Barraclough