Buenos Aires, Argentina's stylish and sophisticated capital, is filled with luxury hotels. Like everything else in in this vivacious city, they have their own personalities and styles. You'll find reliably posh international brands, historic hotels, and design-centric boutique hotels. These are the nine best luxury hotels in Buenos Aires. (To find out more about this fantastic city and country, visit Argentina Expert Michael Luongo's goargentina.about.com.)
Since its opening in 1932, Alvear Palace has been Buenos Aires’ grand hotel, with a high-society clientele and legendary aura. Its nostalgic, Persian-carpeted lobby bar is the city's most elegant setting for a glass of Champagne or English-style high tea.
Alvear Palace is owned by a family, not a corporation, and feels intimate. Its buffet breakfast is stupendous, and its in-house French restaurant, La Bourgogne, is often called Argentina's best. Other enticements: a gleaming gym and a branch of La Prairie spa.
Pro: Alvear Palace is the weightiest Buenos Aires luxury hotel name you can drop
Con: Rooms can be small, and their conservative Old World décor — damask and gilt — is not for everyone
Happiest Guest: A connoisseur of "old school" grand hotels
Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt consists of a modern 15-story tower opposite a vintage white palacio, or mansion. Original rooms are usually more appealing in an old wing/new wing hotel, but everyone wins here. Mansion rooms are spacious and gracious, with fireplaces and chandeliers. Tower rooms feel like deluxe, modern lofts, with spa-like bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lovely Recoleta district.
Hotel attractions include an indoor lap pool and Vinoteca, an Argentinean wine bar with 6,500 bottles curated by one of Argentina's top sommeliers.
Pro: Staffers are genuinely helpful, with zero attitude
Con: Tower rooms are so high-tech, even our butler couldn’t work the lighting and music controls
Happiest Guest: A traditionalist for the mansion, a modernist for the tower
Walking around town, you can’t help but notice the 14-story Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires. Imposingly perched on a hill off a main boulevard, this Buenos Aires luxury hotel resembles a high-rise mansion.
Guests enjoy Four Seasons excellence: impeccable service, opulent room furnishings, panoramic views, a landscaped outdoor pool, and the top-rated Pachamama (“earth mother”) spa.
Pro: Located between the pretty Recoleta neighborhood and a good shopping and dining area
Con: The hotel is beautiful, but has no particular Argentinean ambiance or sense of place
Happiest Guest: Doesn’t want to try an unfamiliar name, and knows that Four Seasons delivers
The Faena is Buenos Aires' fashion hotel. Once an early-1900s, red-brick warehouse, it was overhauled by French designer Philippe Starck, known for hard angles and offbeat touches. The Faena provokes love or hate. How would you react to a hotel restaurant that is entirely white, with plaster unicorn heads on the walls? Faena rooms are a bit more sober than the lobby floor, with plush beds but austere couches.
The Faena is in Puerto Madero, a man-made island a footbridge away from downtown and San Telmo's tango halls. This Buenos Aires luxury hotel is indeed its own universe.
Pro: The hotel's bar, restaurants, pool, and in-house tango show host a vibrant social scene
Con: Celebrities stay at the Faena, and sometimes there are fans screaming outside
Happiest Guest: Is involved in design or entertainment, or is tired of conventional hotels
InterContinental Hotel Buenos Aires is set in the Monserrat historic district. Guests are steps from its ornate churches and theaters, majestic state buildings, and La Rosada, the presidential palace where Eva Peron addressed her followers.
That's not all. The InterContinental is also near the Calle Florida shopping strip, the steakhouses of Puerto Madero, and the tango clubs of San Telmo. The 17-story hotel is decorated in black-and-white Art Deco style. Rooms have king beds, marble accents, and vintage photos of glamorous Argentinians at the racetrack and on the tango floor.
Pro: Location, location, location; the hotel's bull's-eye location will save you time and taxi fares
Con: Nevertheless, the hotel's immediate surroundings are barren at night
Happiest Guest: A first-time visitor to Buenos Aires who wants to see everything
Hilton is a top hotel brand in South America, and the Hilton Buenos Aires is first-rate.
It is conveniently located in Puerto Madero, a short walk to shopping and downtown. Its design, by Argentinean modern architect Mario Roberto Alvarez, features an impressive glass-roofed atrium lobby. Simple, tasteful rooms — no tassels or gilt -- have premium beds, city or Plata River views, and windows you can actually open.
Pro: Fitness options include a well-equipped gym, big outdoor pool, and public jogging path
Con: With 418 rooms and a convention center, the Hilton can seem impersonal
Happiest Guest: An active luxury traveler who doesn’t want to miss a workout
The Sofitel Buenos Aires occupies a stately 1928 bank building that was transformed into a luxury hotel in 2008. It is well-situated in a quiet corner of the Microcentro shopping and business district. Guests at any French-owned Sofitel can count on a good restaurant (with a French chef) and fine design throughout.
This Sofitel's marble lobby is fragrant with flowers, and its rooms are sleek and comfortable, with silky Frette linens and spacious bathrooms. And this Buenos Aires luxury hotel also offers a cutting-edge gym, indoor pool, and spa.
Pro: The Sofitel’s library is also a bar and free Wi-fi lounge
Con: Standard rooms, while attractive, are not large
Happiest Guest: A seasoned traveler who likes a Gallic spin on things
Pro: Several indoor and outdoor lounge areas invite hotel guests to mingle and meet
Con: Mine Hotel lacks a gym
Happiest Guest: A visitor intent on a local, rather than touristy, Buenos Aires experience
Palermo Place Hotel is a boutique hotel in the buzzy, residential Palermo Hollywood district. It is set a quick Subte (subway) ride from downtown and a short walk from the famed Palermo Hipodromo racetrack. Palermo Place's 26 spacious rooms (four for smokers) have one cushy king or two twin beds, kitchenette, balcony, well-appointed bathroom, and sleek furniture by local designer Gianni Berelli. The flatscreen TV offers some English-language channels, and wi-fi and DSL are gratis.
Palermo Place features a gym, solarium, and rooftop lounge and grill. Service goes above and beyond, with committed staffers, customized grocery shopping, laundry, good drivers on call, and complimentary fruit, cookies, chocolates, and water in your room.
Pro: Breakfast is not served in the hotel but via vouchers at fun local cafés
Con: Palermo Place has a gym but no pool
Happiest Guest: Is eager to explore the intriguing Palermo neighborhood as well as central Buenos Aires
See the definition of a boutique hotel >>