It’s possible to divide the countries of the world into two categories: those that have pay-by-the-hour hotels, and those that don’t. It’s not a big concept in Australia or the United States, for example. But in Japan, they’re ubiquitous. In Mexico and Guatemala, it’s the same. And in Argentina too, they abound: there are 150+ pay-by-the-hour hotels in the Capital Federal district alone.
All about telos
The Argentine variety of pay-by-the-hour hotels are known as telos. The name is lunfardo (that is, Rio Platenese argot) for ‘hotel’: in lunfardo, the order of the syllables in words is often reversed, and of course the ‘h’ is silent in Spanish.
In case you were in any doubt, telos in Buenos Aires are unambiguously places to go for sex. Private, anonymous, discreet and open 24/7, they feature such things as their own branded condoms, porn on the TVs and strategically situated mirrors. Room service is usually very comprehensive, and in most telos there’s a hole in the wall with an airlock system so that you’re not disturbed when the champagne arrives.
Not all telos are so well-appointed though – at the lower end they can be pretty nasty/tacky, but you get what you pay for. Move up the chain and they’re very clean and pleasant, and some even have stuff like Jacuzzis, costumes for role-playing, cameras for recording your exploits, themed rooms and so on.
So why do they exist?
It’s not difficult to work out why there are so many telos in Buenos Aires. Couples need ‘alone time’ now and again (…for sex), and when it’s culturally the norm to live with your parents until you’re 28 and/or married, for young people at least it’s pretty hard to get that alone time where you live.
Of course telos aren’t just for young people though. Do they also fuel a culture of infidelity among the older set? Who knows, but let’s just say they’re probably an enabler! Apparently there’s a big difference between the people who visit telos at night (mostly young couples) and those who visit during the day and particularly at lunchtime (older married people who are having an affair with a workmate).
Be that as it may, telos are a fact of Porteño life, and if you go to one you’ll certainly have an interesting story for the folks back home!
Finding a telo
Telos are often hard to spot, so if you want to visit one (purely for research purposes of course) you should consult the website at www.alberguestransitorios.com first – you’ll find no shortage of options.
Here are three to get you started:
A red sign saying ‘Telo’ at the front of Rampa Car is the only indication that you’re about to enter a den of iniquity. From the outside it looks like a giant parking garage, but there is a good reason for this as you park your car directly outside of your room. How convenient?! Feel free to bang in a space ship, a Roman temple or an Egyptian pyramid as Rampa Car offers many different “themed rooms.” There are jacuzzis as well.
Perhaps best described by the word ‘überkitsch,’ Los Jardines de Babilonia is an upscale/fantasy telo with theme rooms including The Emperor’s Enclave and the Temple of Ishtar. Check out their website for details.
With 25 differently-themed rooms in five price/quality categories, Hotel Pink has something for every discerning horny person. The more expensive rooms have things like Jacuzzis and double-size showers. An hour (really, that should be long enough) in one of their best rooms mid-week is only ARG$75. Bargain!
In Chile they are called motels, and my chilean husband had a hard time convincing the clerk to let us rent a room for what was left of the night – we had taken the wrong turn somewhere along the road, and just needed to crash a few hours before driving on in daylight. Cheaper than a hotel – and we didnt want to drive around in the dark. The motels seem to be everywhere around Valparaiso and Santiago, easier to find than budget hotels
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Elise, that’s not the case with the telos in BA. You can either pay by the hour or stay the night, which usually includes a breakfast in bed.
It’s only polite to stay the night when you go in after four am rather than let your girl go home by herself at those hours.
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