In the Argentinian capital, stay central, within walking distance of culture, restaurants and shops. These hotels are either on, or near, the iconic Avenida Alvear, and the elegant Patio Bullrich centre, where affluent locals gather all day long for social coffee drinking. The hotels can arrange tango lessons, and trips to the Mendoza wine-growing area. The polo season, from August through December, offers even more reason for being in beautiful Buenos Aires.
Alvear Palace Hotel, a member of Leading Hotels of the World and part of Best of Patagonia, is the 1932-vintage queen of Buenos Aires, yet this 11-floor hotel is immaculately up-to-date, and magnificent in every respect. From marbled public areas to the conservatory Winter Garden’s breakfast buffet, this is one of the world’s best independent hotels.
General manager Olga Petroni is like a storybook mother who knows what today’s travellers want: thanks to owner David Sutton, there is now an amazing five-room spa (you do not realize you are walking to a neighbouring building) and 16 additional rooftop suites are planned.
As of now, there are 191 rooms, and corner suite 504, with a rounded salon, gives the best views along Avenida Alvear and its Ayacudo cross-street. This is the rare kind of hotel where, as well as hotel-logo Post-Its, you get really luxurious guest stationery, embossed in gold and black.
Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, a few blocks east along Avenida Alvear, is a conversion of the 1934 palace built for the Duhau family. Ingeniously, a brand new 17-floor tower, one block lower on Posadas, is linked to the palace by a subterranean art gallery walkway taking you past sculptures and the 142-room hotel’s working flower shop.
The terraced garden between the buildings is popular at all hours with locals, again drinking coffee, talking and enjoying the greenery (the whole hotel complex is flanked by gigantic, 300-year old Gomero trees in the Palacio Maguire yard to one side, and trees in the Nunciature Vatican Embassy to the other).
It is difficult to choose between palacio bedrooms, say 203, or staying in the tower, say 602, just as long as you have a view of the hotel’s garden, landscaped by the designer of the city’s botanical garden. Children love playing out here, by the way: they chase doves drinking from the garden’s shallow decorative pools. Restaurants – including Duhau Restaurant and Vinoteca, and the tower’s all-day Italian Giola – spill out onto terraces. There is a serious indoor pool, where the ceiling colour changes with the hour. Antonio Alvarez is general manager.
Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires is owned by flamboyant polo-loving entrepreneur Ali Albwardy, proprietor of, among other things, Dubai’s Desert Palm Resort & Spa and its polo fields. Here in Buenos Aires he has just spent a considerable sum on completely re-vamping the ground floor.
An Alejandro Moy painting of galloping horses embellishes the front desk wall. Now there is the Pony Line Bar, with leather-strapped ceiling and travelling-trunk coffee tables, and a two-floor Elena restaurant, with assertive wrought-iron metal structures (Elena Peña was the new bride for whom Felix de Alzaga Unzue built the original mansion here in 1920, says general manager Selley-Morales. Now the mansion hosts events and, across the gardens with the outside pool, an 11-floor tower holds the 165 bedrooms. Room 1105 offers a fine view back to the mansion.