Buenos Aires Booking Strategies

By , Thursday, Apr 2, 2009, 3:45 PM

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.