Buenos Aires at a Price That's Right
We've picked reliable, affordable places to stay in a wide variety of neighborhoods in Argentina's capital. Here are eight properties worth considering, from upscale hostels to apartment-style hotels.
Your dollars go far in Argentina for meals and shopping, but not for hotels. As bargain-seekers fly in to sample Buenos Aires's famous steaks, wine, and tango lessons, they may be surprised that hotels, as a general rule, aren't cheap.
Some booking strategies
Watch out for the value-added tax (VAT) of 21 percent. Some hotels leave it off their price sheets, while others include it as part of the published rate.
High season runs November through March, when swimming pools are especially in demand. Book a few months ahead for a choice spot. But that's about as far ahead as you may be able to reserve at many places. Double-digit inflation has kept some hoteliers from setting rates more than a few months in advance. Naturally, you'll want to verify all prices before you book.
For a longer stay, consider renting an apartment by the week. Reputable agencies, such as B y T Argentina, list hundreds of digs by price range and neighborhood.
Be aware of bargain-looking city hotels—albergues transitorios (or telos in local slang)—these charge by the hour and block all windows so straying spouses can keep a low profile. Look elsewhere for a traditional hotel experience.
Light sleepers should ask for a room away from the street, especially on bus routes. Buenos Aires may be the noisiest city in South America. Public buses with screechy brakes run 24 hours a day.
Buenos Aires's independent boutique hotels hit a sweet spot. They tend to be run out of renovated mansions and town houses bought at bargain prices during or after the financial crisis of 2001. The best ones offer a level of luxury and personalized service that's usually out of reach for bargain-minded travelers. You might pay as little as $120 to stay in an impeccably renovated 18th-century house. And you'll typically receive service that large, corporate-owned hotels can't provide.
Below is our boutique hotel–heavy list of places to stay in Buenos Aires from about $85 to $175 a night—along with a classy hostel for good measure. Cheaper lodgings can be found, but these properties are among the city's best values.
'Hood Recoleta/Barrio Norte, on a residential block with doctors' offices and sought-after apartment towers. Within a short walk of tourist must-sees, such as the Recoleta Cemetery (where Eva Perón is buried) and the fine-arts museum (Museo Nacional de Belles Artes).
First Impression Relaxed civility. The six-story 1929 town house has an art gallery and café on its ground floor and a sundeck on its roof. A whirlpool bath is open in warm weather, typically between December and March.
Rooms Thirty-five rooms are classified from "small & cozy" to "king." Elegant touches include canopied beds, wrought-iron work, French doors, and wood floors. Light sleepers may want to opt for the rooms in back, which are at a quiet remove from the street.
Plus A fine value in a desirable area—plus it packs personality. Nearby competitors tend to be in anonymous towers.
Minus Only the king rooms contain bathtubs, but not even kings have king-size beds: Queen-size beds are the largest ones here.
Free Wi-Fi? Yes, in the lobby.
Credit Cards Accepted AmEx, MC, Visa.
Details Azcuenaga 1268, 011-54/11-4821-4744, arthotel.com.ar, doubles from $95, including VAT.
Hotel Type Hotel.
Relevant Lifestyle Romance, Family-friendly.
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AXEL HOTEL BUENOS AIRES
'Hood San Telmo, a densely packed historic neighborhood. Antique shops, church spires, and tango shows compete for your attention. Sotheby's "For Sale" signs in front of many buildings signal the area's gentrification.
First Impression Architecturally at odds with the well-preserved neighborhood, Axel Hotel is modern and angular. It's a self-proclaimed "heterofriendly" luxury hotel chain for gay travelers. The top-floor swimming pool has a glass bottom that gives an eyeful to people five stories below in the lobby. If you're not a fitness buff, you'll wish you were.
Rooms Most of the 48 rooms fall into two categories: "City" rooms provide views of the skyline (or of a parking lot, if you're unlucky) and "superior" rooms offer a view of Axel's second pool, which is surrounded by terraced sundecks in the style of an amphitheatre. All rooms are nearly soundproof. Clever wood sliding doors alternately conceal and reveal features in the compact rooms, blocking out, by turns, the sun or the closet, the bathtub or the minibar. A hydro-massage bathtub or shower is in each superior room, and a standard shower is in each city room. Interior glass walls leave a bather on display.