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  • YC 221 posts

    I am currently tempted to book the Alvear Icon or the new SLS hotel in Puerto Madero mainly due to the price being much more reasonable than the FS or PH (blue rate helps). Second advantage – I should be able to catch the fireworks quite easily without fighting the crowds.

    However, as a first time visitor to BA, should I avoid staying in this area? Appreciate thoughts and also for any restaurant recommendations.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    I wouldn’t stay in Puerto Madero. It’s quite isolated and has become quite grubby and remains very touristy. There are some good restaurants there, but you don’t need to stay there. Nicest places to stay are really Recoleta (where I think your Alvear Icon must be and the PH & FS) which is a very traditional smart area or in Palermo which is a much younger/livelier area. Both areas are, in our regular and also very recent experience safe to walk around even at night. The FS has good public areas but the rooms are rubbish unless you are in the mansion. The PH has better rooms and a lovely garden – great terrace for breakfast. There are two NH Hotels, one next door to PH (on the Posadas street side) and another in the same street that friends rate highly. The Alvear Palace is good, but probably pricey; good roof bar. If you are doing BA at the beginning and end of a trip, I would try both areas.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    Further re Buenos Aires hotels, you do want to pay in cash if you can, at the ‘blue’ rate!

    YC 221 posts

    Thanks JDB – the Alvear palace is actually cheaper than PH and FS for my dates but its rooms looks more old world luxury. NH is always a good cheaper option and have rarely had issues given the price point. However, this is a special trip and not sure if NH will cut it for the OH… Does seem like a really steep jump between FS/PH/Alvear vs all other 5* (1/3 the price) and if this is worth it (?)

    GillyDee 91 posts

    We’re spending our 40th wedding anniversary in BA; hopefully in the PH. Without going full tonto, any room recommendations, please?

    • This reply was modified 54 years, 4 months ago by .
    JDB 4,339 posts

    We’re spending our 40th wedding anniversary in BA; hopefully in the PH. Without going full tonto, any room recommendations, please?

    Most of the rooms are in the modern building on the Posadas side which either look out on the fairly narrow street or the hotel garden. There are also a few rooms in the mansion building where the main entrance/reception are located as well as the restaurants. The main building is beautiful, save the small rather dark reception area, but unlike the mansion rooms at the FS in Buenos Aires, the rooms in the Palace at the PH don’t have the character of the public areas, so we prefer the modern building, although many of the rooms don’t have openable windows which we hate. You can get from one building to the other either walking through the gardens or an underground walkway.

    The one bed suites are very spacious but a bit variable – 1307 is very good and has a big terrace, so you can open the doors, whereas 1407 has no terrace and a poor bathroom and other room types seem also to have a lot of variation. Breakfast on the Palace building terrace overlooking the gardens is great.

    Scott 240 posts

    What are all the abbreviations?

    dougzz99 626 posts

    Four Seasons, Park Hyatt I assume.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    Four Seasons, Park Hyatt I assume.

    Correct; I wasn’t trying to be cryptic, I was simply using the shorthand used in the post to which I responded.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    Thanks JDB – the Alvear palace is actually cheaper than PH and FS for my dates but its rooms looks more old world luxury. NH is always a good cheaper option and have rarely had issues given the price point. However, this is a special trip and not sure if NH will cut it for the OH… Does seem like a really steep jump between FS/PH/Alvear vs all other 5* (1/3 the price) and if this is worth it (?)

    I’m really sorry, I never saw your reply and it’s probably a bit late now. The Park Hyatt and Alvear Palace are in a different league to most other Buenos Aires hotels, both well located in Recoleta; Alvear a magnificent building, good rooms and service. PH additionally has a lovely garden which is exceptional in a big city in addition to superb service. The FS is good and I have stayed there 10+ times but in my view has really lost its lustre – good public areas but poor dreary and dated rooms unless you are in the mansion which is unlikely and a different price league again.

    • This reply was modified 54 years, 4 months ago by .
    GillyDee 91 posts

    Any observations on Park Tower? MickyDee seems taken but the location looks a bit off to me…

    JDB 4,339 posts

    Any observations on Park Tower? MickyDee seems taken but the location looks a bit off to me…

    Park Tower is in the middle of nowhere and a very ugly building. One of the many pleasures of Buenos Aires is walking around as it has so many wonderful buildings, little streets, interesting boutiques and big squares/open spaces but the Park Tower is essentially on a traffic island between the nicer areas which aren’t that close. I have seen it many times, but looked at the website after your mention; their photographer should get a prize and as for the ‘luxury’ moniker…

    I don’t really like making recommendations because different people like very different places, but we have been going to BA for the last 20 years and Recoleta and Palermo, for us, are the nicest areas to stay and both areas have great hotels at different price points. They couldn’t be more different in vibe – Recoleta is like Kensington/Knightsbridge full of smart restaurants and great old world cafés, traditional up market boutiques (more local than global brands), traditional old Paris style buildings, quite sedate but far from boring. It’s near the cemetery and Bellas Artes. Palermo is much younger, trendier, bohemian with smaller older buildings, latest fashions, amazing restaurants, fun bars and generally quite quirky. We are now just 60 and booked to go yet again in Feb and will stay in both areas at the beginning/end of our trip. What both areas have in common is that you can walk to so many places. The Florida area, near Galerias Pacificos is quite grotty and very touristy; we wouldn’t stay there. Puerto Madero is interesting to visit and has great restaurants, but we also wouldn’t stay there and likewise San Telmo.

    YC 221 posts

    Thanks JDB – not too late! On PH, interesting to note that you prefer the standard room on the Posadas side vs mansion. Mansion is selling for a decent premium to Posadas. In fact, you can get a suite on the Posadas less than a standard in the mansion.

    Lady London 2,030 posts

    Any recommendations for food and entertainment in BA?

    Scott 240 posts

    Four Seasons, Park Hyatt I assume.

    Correct; I wasn’t trying to be cryptic, I was simply using the shorthand used in the post to which I responded.

    Thanks for clarifying. Interested as planning to spend a few days there next year,

    You’ve clearly spent a lot of time in BA, would you be able to write a few lines about the blue dollar, e.g. finding out where to buy, ease of transaction, not getting ripped off(!), likelihood of large hotels accepting, etc.? I’ve read a few online resources, but interested in a personal experience.

    On holiday, as at home, I’m pretty much all card spend these days, so will be strange to revert to cash.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @Scott hotels will only take US$ at official rate. In Buenos Aires, it’s incredibly easy to exchange at the blue rate; there are ‘cambio’ places everywhere as people are desperate for foreign currencies. It is very competitive, so you shouldn’t get ripped off and the difference when you are effectively doubling your money doesn’t matter much. You can check the rate on lots of websites, including bluedollar.net and you will get that rate for $100 bills, and maybe 5-10 pesos less for other notes. Outside BA, in smaller towns, there are far fewer cambios, so you have to sniff them out! The other thing you can do is to send yourself money via WU and you will see the rate they offer is at or close to the blue rate. If you are paying big hotel bills, you need to go to a big branch to ensure they have sufficient cash and you will need your actual passport (not just a copy) in those offices as they have PP readers.

    Don’t change money in places around Florida street. It’s where a lot of tourists go, although I have no idea why and if you are going to get ripped off it will be there.

    Quite a few restaurants will give you a discount for cash, so you can get a further reduction there as well.

    One wrinkle with the hotel is that as a foreigner, if you pay with a foreign credit card you don’t pay the 21% VAT, but if you pay cash you will have to pay the VAT, but obviously it’s still a huge saving.

    • This reply was modified 54 years, 4 months ago by .
    GillyDee 91 posts

    Thank you, JDB. That’s all amazingly helpful. Do you have family in Argentina? Apart from India, I’ve never been back anywhere more than 3 times. Is there a risk I’ll fall in love with Argentina? Already pretty keen on Chile 🙂

    Scott 240 posts

    @JDB muchas gracias por el consejo.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    Any recommendations for food and entertainment in BA?

    Too many to mention, and while I don’t do recommendations, I can share places that we like and would go back to. You need to book well in advance for most good restaurants – many use the Meitre booking system. More Argentines have Italian heritage rather than any other, so everywhere has great pasta and gelato.

    We go to Sottovoce in Recoleta (they have one in Puerto Madero as well) every time for lunch – they have a lunch menu that is incredible value – cash only and you may have to ask to see it. Always packed,older local crowd, somewhere between traditional and modern Italian, excellent food and service and you get lots of extras with aperitif and coffee, including grappa or limoncello.

    We really like nikkei food – Osaka in Palermo and Lima in Recoleta – 2 mins walk from PH (both also have Puerto Madero branches that we haven’t tried). Both have good decor/ambience and we think exceptional food.

    Casa Cavia is really good and has a lovely courtyard, particularly for lunch, but the inside is nice as well. Julia, in Villa Crespi (next to Palermo) is superb, evenings only and very small so must book. Exceptional original and modern Argentinian food, short but brilliant wine list about which the staff are very knowledgeable.

    Roux in Recoleta is a long standing favourite. We prefer the indoors rather than pavement tables. Really good Argentinian food based on the best ingredients, really well executed and presented. Huge, good value wine list.

    Alo’s in San Isidro is incredible, but a bit of a schlep unless you are heading in that direction anyway, eg to go racing. Not many restaurants have a view, but El Muelle (the pier) near the downtown airport is on the sea and has good food in a great setting.

    For steak, many say Don Julio in Palermo is the best, but I’m not so sure. It’s not bad, but a bit too popular so they take advantage and it’s not as good as it should be. The same could perhaps be said of Cabaña las Lilas in Puerto Madero which is our preference, perhaps better at lunchtime than the evening. You will get great meat wherever you go, so not strictly necessary to go to a steak restaurant.

    We have been to Chila a couple of times, but it has got a bit big for its boots and correspondingly (over) expensive.

    In terms of entertainment, tango is probably the number one. We have never tried it, but many people have a tango lesson while in BA and I hear great reports from young and old. Esquina Carlos Gardel is a traditional, quite technical show in a biggish restaurant/theatre type place – good, but go after dinner as I don’t think their food is much good. The Rojo Tango show at the Faena hotel (don’t stay there, but worth a gawp) is very good, a bit raunchy as tango is supposed (and the hotel looks like a brothel) to be but the dancers are night next to yet as it’s in a much smaller setting. We did once go to a really glitzy tango show ?? Señor Tango; I think totally inauthentic, but fairly spectacular.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    Thank you, JDB. That’s all amazingly helpful. Do you have family in Argentina? Apart from India, I’ve never been back anywhere more than 3 times. Is there a risk I’ll fall in love with Argentina? Already pretty keen on Chile 🙂

    We don’t have family there! Sort of went by chance as my wife picked up a FS directory that had an amazing looking place on the cover which was Carmelo, Uruguay, just over the river from Buenos Aires and we got hooked. It’s a dilemma for us whether to try new places, but some places just work so well for us and get even better as you get to know them more, so we do a bit of both. We are going back to Zihuatanejo, Mexico in November; after our fourth trip, we said enough, but couldn’t find anything to compare so now going back for the seventh time… We did try lots of new places in South Africa in April though!

    Argentina is just a wonderful place – lovely people, natural beauty with such a variety from sub tropical at Iguassu/Corrientes, to the Andes, wild Atlantic at Valdes Peninsula and the glaciers, food and wine superb and so much of it still so unspoilt and with few tourists. It has also just been incredible value compared to holidays I read about here and the new blue dollar makes it even better value.

    We have travelled extensively and I don’t know anywhere more naturally beautiful than Bariloche/Llao Llao or the Calchaquí valley which I thought of when people were talking about the Grand Canyon on here last week that we don’t find as impressive as many.

    Lady London 2,030 posts

    @JDB thanks very much for your recommendations.

    qc 203 posts

    I wouldn’t stay in Puerto Madero. It’s quite isolated and has become quite grubby and remains very touristy. There are some good restaurants there, but you don’t need to stay there. Nicest places to stay are really Recoleta (where I think your Alvear Icon must be and the PH & FS) which is a very traditional smart area or in Palermo which is a much younger/livelier area. Both areas are, in our regular and also very recent experience safe to walk around even at night. The FS has good public areas but the rooms are rubbish unless you are in the mansion. The PH has better rooms and a lovely garden – great terrace for breakfast. There are two NH Hotels, one next door to PH (on the Posadas street side) and another in the same street that friends rate highly. The Alvear Palace is good, but probably pricey; good roof bar. If you are doing BA at the beginning and end of a trip, I would try both areas.

    Just resurrecting this thread as I see you mention 2 NH Hotels near the PH. I can’t see which ones you are referring to. I have Titanium status with GHA so might get a good upgrade if we book there.

    Alternatively what are everyone’s thoughts on staying in an apartment rather than a hotel.

    Scott 240 posts

    Alternatively what are everyone’s thoughts on staying in an apartment rather than a hotel.

    It probably depends on the area where you want to base yourself and what the accommodation is like there.

    I have a hotel in Recoleta but an Airbnb in Palermo on an upcoming trip.

    With Airbnb you pay in your own currency (converted from USD) so you can’t arbitrage the gap between official and MEP exchange rates, although that has shrunk dramatically anyway since the devaluation. Also I found Airbnb prices quite reasonable so didn’t feel I was overpaying compared to hotels (I booked mine pre-devaluation.)

    qc 203 posts

    I was looking at apartments on Booking.com – I thought some of them you could pay at the property so hopefully will avoid the tax.

    We are spending the first couple of nights at the IC as our flight arrives late and we know the hotel having stayed there a couple of times before. We also stayed in a lovely boutique hotel in Palermo but it has now doubled in price since the exchange rate change.

    JDB 4,339 posts

    @qc – yes, it looks like neither of the NHs in Recoleta are still there. Not sure if they have closed or been rebadged. The other NH hotels aren’t in great locations. If you are planning to stay in Palermo, you want to look carefully at the location unless you plan to be partying all night as many bars stay open until 4 or 5am and will be very noisy. It’s an interesting area but it’s becoming a bit tawdry.

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