Buenos Aires - Read our Stories and Reviews

Buenos Aires

Argentina’s sultry tango culture and turbulent political history give Buenos Aires its serious, intense flavour. It’s a city that reveals itself over time.

Locals seem to linger all afternoon over café con leches; national pride in the country’s sophisticated Spanish roots, superb ranch- raised steak and wine is almost a religion. I’ll always be honest…

Sheira and I related more to the up-front, high-energy beach culture of Rio. But our stay in Faena Hotel + Universe was a reward in itself: an offbeat oasis that combines the cutting edge delights of a rock star design hotel with upmarket service standards.
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We took a 3-hour flight from Rio to Buenos Aires on Argentine Airline, Aerolineas. The Business Class seats gave poor value for money - very thin seat cushioning and we could hardly push our seats back. So I did what I do best... and zoned out for the next 3 hours. Make sure that you arrive in B.A. with cash as many of the ATM’s (at Rio) and Buenos Aires airports only work with local cards. When the Faena Hotel & Universe's driver, Oscar met us, we were blown away by the hotel’s red leather ‘welcome box:’ it contained a personal greeting card, a bottle of water, snacks and towels. It’s a first and we were really impressed; a detail like that really lifts you up. We were a little surprised at how rundown everything was on the journey in from the airport: the road was rough and the mid-rise buildings,looked dingily grey and brown. We arrived amongst the old factory walls of the Puerto Madero district - another example of the global trend for enlivening old industrial inner-city areas, converting them into new neighbourhoods in prime locations. The hotel looked magnificent!

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I can’t tell you how many times we had heard over the decades that Buenos Aires is the European city of South America, with its buildings, great restaurants and arty culture. We finally wanted to see it for ourselves and had all kinds of romantic visions of violins, tango and dark bars; people rave about the food and wine and the polo matches have an international glamour. We have only ever heard how sexy and exciting it is. Because of this I just rolled with it, going without my usual fine tune research. While we had low expectations of Rio on this trip, conversely, I think our expectations of Buenos Aires were set a little too high.

I found about a dozen really good hotels in Buenos Aires but for me the Faena Hotel & Universe was the stand out, exciting choice. We follow witty French design star, Phillip Starck’s work and wanted to experience his latest, lavish project that had the world talking and swept every design award when it opened in 2005 - including a nod for best new hotel from hipster bible, Wallpaper magazine.

Of course a big, established city like Buenos Aires has a Four Seasons and an InterContinental - excellent hotels that are the accommodation equivalent of a classic, preppy brand like Ralph Lauren. They are clustered in the upmarket, posh Recoleta district, a quartier we can relate to. And hip, social hotels don’t always work best. In places like London or Paris we prefer the traditional, old school grand hotels so we don’t lose out on the essence of the city’s culture. But in this case we knew that the Faena’s hot design aesthetic would be part of the travel adventure.

We were warned that the Faena Hotel & Universe was situated a little out of the way in the portside Puerto Madero redevelopment... but we soon discovered that this area is actually quite close to the city ‘centro’, only a short walk across the river.

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