If there’s one thing that Buenos Aires does really well in terms of accommodation, it’s boutique hotels. Maybe it’s because the hotspots like San Telmo, Palermo and Recoleta don’t have acres of space for big international hotel chains to open up, but whatever the reason, boutiques always top the rankings when it comes to the best places to stay.
Of course there is a dark side to Buenos Aires boutique hotel-dom, and it’s that sometimes, or even often, boutique hotels choose form over function in order to seem trendy and avant-garde. This quote from the New York Times contributor Ian Mount sums the situation up perfectly:
A high proportion of BA boutique hotels look like they were designed by Philippe Starck’s younger, dull-normal, less-talented brother.
But never fear! This guide to five of Buenos Aires’ best boutiques will help you to steer clear of the pretenders. All five attract rave reviews from guests and some are so popular they must be booked months in advance.
Bo Bo is set in a renovated old colonial style house in Palermo Soho, which provides a stunning setting for this modern hotel. With only seven rooms to play with, Bo Bo has gone with the ‘theme room’ idea that is much beloved of boutique hotels the world over. The concept is a bit overdone, but Bo Bo manages to pull it off, and rooms including Techno, Art Deco, and Argentinian all bring both style and comfort to the table. The beds are large and comfortable, and the showers have plenty of pressure and heat.
The staff at Bo Bo speak flawless English, are highly friendly and attentive, and there’s a concierge service that can make dinner reservations for you – a nice touch if you’re not in town for long and don’t have time to do your own restaurant research. On other hand, the restaurant in the hotel is excellent in its own right, so staying in is a good option too.
2. Babel Hotel | San Telmo
Set in a historic mansion on a tranquil, cobblestoned San Telmo street, Babel Hotel promises a lot from the first time you see it. And happily, it delivers, with a warm and intimate atmosphere and a comfortable and fun experience.
The staff at Babel are unremittingly charming and kind, and seem ready to bend over backwards to please their guests.
Rooms at Babel aren’t large but are beautifully decorated and have comfortable beds. The bathrooms are luxurious, with real showers as opposed to the all-too-common ‘shower in a bathtub’ setup. The public room is a great place to relax, so there’s no need to stay in your room while you recover from a day of sightseeing.
Breakfasts are outstanding, featuring fresh fruit and pastries and the ability to get things like omelets and ham& cheese toasties made-to-order from the kitchen. The hotel also has a cozy bar with great wines and cocktails.
3. Home Hotel Buenos Aires | Palermo Hollywood
Home Hotel does exactly what it says on the tin – it really DOES make you feel like you’re at home (only with more style and much better service!). It occupies an absolutely beautiful building, and has similarly beautifully decorated rooms with plenty of great design touches. The rooms are modern and have English TV channels and mini-bars (hic!).
In terms of common areas, Home has a nice lobby to chill out or read in, a garden with terrace, and a pool –a very small pool, but a pool nonetheless. There’s also a resto-bar which can both satisfy your drinking requirements (including cocktails) and serve you food, though the food is more geared towards lunches and snacks than evening meals.
The service at Home is great: polite and helpful. Guests are e-mailed an agenda prior to their departure, and on arrival a helpful booklet is provided which answers all of the questions you might have.
4. The Cocker | San Telmo
This gorgeous guesthouse has just four suites, making it a truly exclusive boutique experience. Like so many boutique hotels The Cocker is located in a historic building, and it’s one that has been refurbished to produce a tasteful elegance. Beautiful design touches abound, like the art-nouveau wall of glazed iron that features in the reception area.
Each of the four rooms is unique and crammed with character, usually blending lush fabrics and restored antiques with modernist twists. The beds are comfortable and the rooms have a lot of natural light.
Breakfasts at The Cocker are very good, with croissants, toast, and fresh fruits. The service is great and the staff can provide lots of local knowledge on where to go and what to eat.
5. 1555 Malabia House Hotel | Palermo Soho
Über-cool Palermo Viejo is where you’ll find the charming 1555 Malabia House. If you arrive at night, just look for the tree out the front that’s lit up at night.
Among the highlights at 1555 are fresh, bright and modern rooms with great towels and bathrobes, personal and friendly service, and impeccable levels of cleanliness. The lounge/living room is outstanding: filled with natural light, making it a lovely place to relax when you have sore feet from a day of walking.
Breakfasts are delicious, with plenty of choices. They’re eaten in an elegant breakfast room at a large communal table, which is great for meeting other guests.