Given its status as a top tourist destination, it comes as no surprise that Buenos Aires has well over 1 trillion (I made that number up) hotel beds. That’s a lot of beds, and so having to select just one can quickly lead to choice paralysis, and subsequently the decision to go somewhere lamer, like Santiago, just to have a more straight-forward choice of accommodation. That would be a huge mistake.
Instead, refer to this handy guide. Four categories, five places to stay per category, and all of them winners. What could be simpler than that?
Cheap, cheerful hostels
Though it’s not to everyone’s tastes, no list of Buenos Aires hostels would be complete without a mention of the inimitable Milhouse.
Milhouse is one of the classic large, we-do-it-all-for-you hostels where you don’t need to lift a finger to have a good time. It features planned entertainment options every day and night of the week (football matches, tango lessons, day trips, and so on), so you need never be bored or even have to plan any of your own activities. Milhouse has also long been the premier party hostel of Buenos Aires, so those who are here for the boliches and seeing tourist attractions only from the window of a cab home at 8am need look no further.
Note that Milhouse has two locations, both of them excellent: the original is at Hipólito Yrigoyen 959, and the newer location is Avenida de Mayo 1245. The former is between San Telmo and the Microcentro, while the latter is in the same area just a little further out, on the other side of Avenida 9 de Julio.
Don’t be put off by the odd inclusion of ‘cultural’ in the name, because Sandanzas is one of San Telmo’s best hostels. It’s a small (max 28 people), funky and relaxed kind of a place that’s a great option for solo travelers: it’s the kind of place where everyone introduces themselves to each other just because they’re staying at the same hostel. The staff are friendly and helpful and there’s a nice range of amenities including a kitchen, free Wi-Fi, free bikes and free tango lessons (yes, there’s a lot of free stuff).
The one downside is the front door, which closes with a considerable clang and can be annoying if you’re trying to sleep (which you shouldn’t be doing anyway: sleep is for the weak).
A top-rated hostel in a great location with a subte station just out in front. You’ll no doubt be delighted to encounter air-conditioning, excellent security, excellent staff and common areas with plenty of space to do your thing, whatever that might be. Best of all is the amazing rooftop terrace. The bathrooms leave a little something to be desired, but hey – this ain’t the Four Seasons. There’s a 24hr reception, a bar, individual lockers each big enough for a backpack, a travel advice desk where you can book bus tickets, and some architecturally interesting restored dome rooms.
This is a chain hostel, so whether you’ll like it or not really depends on whether that’s your thing. On the plus side this 100-capacity hostel is spotlessly clean, and it has lockers in every room, organized activities, air conditioning, cable TV, computers with free internet plus a Wi-Fi zone, free bedclothes and a big bar. On the other hand…it just feels like a chain hostel, which is really just to say that it lacks any individual character. It doesn’t have so much of a party vibe as some other big hostels, but it’s still a fun place to hang out. Hostel-Inn Tango City is located in San Telmo.
This ‘hostel’ is delightfully poised right on a knife-edge between being a hotel and being a hostel. It’s only two years old and despite being located in the old district of San Telmo, it’s in a purpose-built building. It’s very clean and modern, and while it has dorms, they have en-suite bathrooms and a maximum of four beds each. There’s free Wi-Fi in all the rooms. It’s not a party hostel but there’s a great common area downstairs where it’s easy to meet people, and when you want to kick on there’s a bar right across the road (La Puerta Roja).
The immediate area that America del Sur is in is down-at-heel, but it’s only a short walk from Calle Defensa, which is home to many great bars and restaurants. There’s also a fantastic little American-style café just around the corner called Matilda’s (try the cupcakes).
Hotels on a budget
Somewhat unusually located in the barrio of Boedo (some distance from both Palermo and the Microcentro), Lola House is nevertheless a great little hotel and a budget gem. It’s small but has large and comfortable rooms, is decorated nicely, is quiet and has a nice inner courtyard. What really makes it special however are the incredibly friendly and helpful hosts, Lidia and Anna, who by now must have charmed literally thousands of visitors to Buenos Aires. Each morning they cook a big breakfast, ask their guests what they saw the day before, and make suggestions for the day to come. It’s a lovely personal touch that’s simply impossible to find anywhere else.
Budget hotels in Recoleta are harder to find than in the less posh barrios, but Art Hotel would be good value wherever it was located. It manages to be simultaneously modern, chic and possessed with a certain artistic old world charm inside – a difficult combination to pull off! Its rooms are mostly small but cozy and are very clean. There’s a very good buffet breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and friendly staff. Due to its small rooms (with limited closet space) it’s perhaps better suited to shorter stays, unless you’re prepared to pay extra for one of their larger rooms.
Ibis is of course the ‘economy’ hotel brand of the Accor hotel group, so the Ibis Buenos Aires is a chain hotel. Don’t hold that against it however, because it has everything you could want in a budget hotel: cleanliness; comfortable beds; pleasant staff, and fairly priced extras (the breakfast is very reasonable). It’s well located in its own building within walking distance of the Obelisco, Avenida 9 de Julio, Avenida de Mayo and the Casa Rosada.
Any downsides? Only that, like all chain hotels, it’s a little soulless. Otherwise it’s just your basic clean, well located hotel, and as an added bonus the service is surprisingly cheerful too.
Not a place perhaps for couples on a romantic getaway, but nevertheless a dependable, safe and comfortable Recoleta hotel at a bargain price. It occupies a gigantic old town house, meaning that the ceilings are high and the floors wooden.
Rooms at Lion d’Or are small, and so are their bathrooms, but they’re clean, cozy and inviting and entirely acceptable for the money. Their beds are comfortable. Only some rooms have air conditioning, so check this when you book if you’ll be in Buenos Aires during summer – you’ll need it.
Don Telmo is located in an old 3-story house which has been converted into a hotel, giving it a medley of different rooms. All of them are comfortable however, with extremely high ceilings, a free Wi-Fi signal and clean (if small) bathrooms. It also boasts more than one common area – there’s a lounge as well as a roof terrace. Staff are extremely friendly and all in all it’s very good value, if maybe a little lacking in extras and amenities.
The only real ‘con’ with Don Telmo is the location. As the name suggests this hotel is located in San Telmo, which is also fine unless you were perhaps looking for a more glamorous spot. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the hotel to the area of San Telmo with the bulk of cafes, bars and restaurants.
The mid-range hotel sweet spot
A lovely boutique hotel with excellent staff located in the barrio of Almago. It’s very clean and comfortable and tastefully decorated inside with artwork and sculptures. Great breakfasts are provided, and the staff are warm, super friendly, and can make a lot of helpful recommendations about places to eat and things to do.
There aren’t many places to go out in Almagro, but a short subte or taxi ride solves that problem. The nearest subte station is only three blocks away.
The oddly-named Glu Hotel has a great location in Palermo Soho. It’s a beautiful, modern, spacious kind of place with nice hardwood floors. It’s clean and friendly, the staff speak perfect English, and, as you normally find when you start to move up the hotel food chain, everything ‘just works’. Basic breakfast with good coffee is included. This is perhaps the ultimate mid-range Buenos Aires boutique hotel.
Located a block from Calle Florida and within walking distance to Puerto Madero and the upmarket and impressive Galerias Pacifico Mall, TRYP is a modern, quiet and well-appointed place to stay. The rooms are spacious and the showers are good. The service is outstanding and supremely accommodating English-speaking staff (try them!). There’s a great breakfast buffet with lots of food choices and free internet on two computers downstairs.
Again located close to Calle Florida, Claridge has smaller rooms which could perhaps use a makeover, but are comfortable and clean. Claridge stands out for its features and amenities, which include: a pool (fantastic in Buenos Aires summer heat); an excellent English-style breakfast with free champagne (!); a bar, and a restaurant. The staff are very helpful and speak English, as you would expect at this price point.
Exactly who is Howard Johnson? No idea, but he could only be pleased with this hotel, as it fights for the title of ‘best boutique hotel in Buenos Aires.’ There are only 12 rooms, all of which are quiet and spacious, with big beds, excellent showers, flat screen TVs and free super fast Wi-Fi. Some bathrooms have Jacuzzi baths. There’s a free (Argentine-style) breakfast provided every morning until 10:30am. The solarium is a nice place for cocktails in the evening.
If you hadn’t already noticed, plush Recoleta is one of the best places to stay in Buenos Aires. The Howard Johnson is within walking distance of the Recoleta cemetery and lots of nice restaurants. Trips to San Telmo, the Microcentro and Palermo will each require a short cab ride, but taxis are so cheap and plentiful in Buenos Aires that it hardly matters.
Dear-but-delightful deluxe hotels
Have more money than sense? Well then why not stay at a really expensive hotel. Positioned at the upper end of the upper end, the Four Seasons Buenos Aires is undeniably beautiful, charming and awesome. Food in the restaurant is delicious, the pool and spa relaxing, and there are a host of features such as gym, great beds, a pillow menu and a generally unrivalled, highly personalized level of service. It’s also sparkling clean, of course. Rooms are a little characterless, and not all of them have a great view, but they’re still elegant and refined.
While Palermo is long on places to eat, bars and boutiques, it’s not a place to sightsee, so taxis will be necessary to ferry you from Mine Hotel Boutique to places such as San Telmo and the Microcentro if you’re into that sort of thing. With that small issue out of the way, what about the hotel? Yes, it’s lovely. There’s a dipping pool (an oasis during summer), a garden area, excellent service with top-notch maids, and tasty and varied breakfast.
Ambience-wise, Mine Hotel Boutique is comfortable, stylish, sleek, compact and intimate rather than spacious. It has been cleverly designed to make the best use of space. The outdoor garden and pool area can be seen from many internal areas through glass walls, which is a nice touch. The rooms, of which there are only 20, are small but very cozy.
It’s unusual to find luxury hotels in Buenos Aires’ oldest barrio of San Telmo, but Mansion Vitraux is undeniably that. It has an avant-garde kind of ambience with sophistication, charm, and some unique décor including red walls. Sometimes there’s an emphasis on form over function, but that can almost always be forgiven. The beds are so comfortable you really don’t want to stop sleeping, and the breakfast buffet is generous and delicious. The kitchen staff will cook you something to order in addition to the buffet if that’s what you want. There’s a wine cellar complete with a sommelier.
The Buenos Aires Hilton is located in the very new, very clean area of Puerto Madero. Like the area, the Hilton is stylish, new and modern rather than atmospheric, but that’s the nature of the beast when it comes to chain hotels. Rooms are big and comfortable, with an air of quiet elegance. The lobby is huge and has glass elevators. The service is, of course, top notch. There’s a very helpful concierge who’s not stingy with his time and provides a personalized service.
PuroBaires is in the trendy barrio of Palermo Soho. The hotel is pretty trendy to, with a chic, tastefully-decorated lobby and bar. The common areas also include a small rooftop terrace with a pool; just the thing for cooling off at the end of a hot summer’s day in Buenos Aires.
Rooms are immaculate, spacious and quiet at PuroBaires and the beds are comfortable. The breakfasts are excellent, with cappuccino, fruit salads, freshly made omelets and freshly baked bread. Staff are amazingly friendly and will be calling you by name in no time.
…Does that make things clearer? You should be able to see now that Buenos Aires boasts some absolutely fabulous places to stay, particularly in the boutique category (which crosses all price levels). And as long as Argentina’s economy continues to lurch from crisis to crisis, they’re eminently affordable for foreigners as well. So book one already!