Av Alvear 1891, Recoleta, Buenos Aires
Unapologetically opulent, the dignified Alvear Palace, steeped in history and tradition, is fit for the royalty that it has hosted over the years.
© Alvear Palace Hotel
Situated as the focal point of what is arguably the most prestigious street in the city and only three blocks from the swanky shopping at Patio Bullrich, the Alvear Palace in Recoleta was finished in 1932 after 10 years of construction. Currently owned by David Sutton Dabbah, who is also half owner of Barlioche's exclusive Llao Llao hotel, money is not spared in an attempt to keep every detail in line at this Leading Hotel of the World. More conservative than the Four Seasons in Buenos Aires and even more ornate than the Sofitel, guests who would choose to stay at the Waldorf Astoria in New York or the Langham in London will feel right at home at the Alvear.
Walking the lush carpets past many impeccably–suited bellboys to enter the Louis XVI marble foyer, guests will soon realize what sets the Alvear apart from other Buenos Aires hotels: its over the top Belle Epoque elegance. While the antique wood reception area and concierge area are both small, they are followed by the entryway to numerous massive ballrooms (with capacity for 800 guests), where one can only imagine the fairy tale weddings that have taken place there over the years.
Accustomed to discerning (and some inevitably high–maintenance) clientele, the sharp staff are trained and ready to go above and beyond. All employees are bilingual, and there is an impressive ratio of two staff members per guest. Ensuring that all needs are met, guests will be introduced to their floor butler and can feel free to call upon the butler to unpack their luggage, draw them a bath, iron clothing, or turn the bed down exactly as they wish.
There are quite a few room choices at the Alvear, but reserving one of the suites is definitely in order. The Royal Suite, deemed by some as Buenos Aires' most decadent hotel room available, boasts 2700 square feet. All suites feature high ceilings, ornate chandeliers, large bouquets of fresh flowers, daily fruit service, Egyptian cotton bedding, extravagantly thick draperies, and large marble bathrooms filled with Hermes products. With a color scheme fittingly in gold, guests will feel like the VIP's who may have very well stayed in the room before them, including Ted Turner, Donatella Versace, Nelson Mandela, Sofia Loren, Jacques Chirac or the Emperor of Japan. For light sleepers it is recommended to reserve a room on one of the upper floors, as some past guests have complained that noise from the lobby, bar, or ballrooms can travel to the lower level rooms.
Breakfast is about as lavish as one could imagine, and the gastronomic experiences available at the Alvear continue to delight throughout the day. A long–held Buenos Aires tradition among the city's elite is the formal tea in the glassed–in gardens of L'Orangerie, where no detail is spared on either quality or service. There is a dress code, and guests who show up in flip–flops or shorts will politely be offered a change of clothing. No stay at the Alvear is complete without experiencing this afternoon treat (the selection of exquisite Tealosophy teas is impressively lengthy), but it is not for tight schedules. Plan for this high tea to last couple of hours, and expect to want a siesta after so much indulgence. A world–renowned Sunday brunch also takes place at L'Orangerie, and is one of the places to see–and–be–seen in Buenos Aires on the weekend. The Alvear Palace is also home to one of South America's best French restaurants, the super chic La Bourgogne, whose wine list rivals that of any other top restaurant in Latin America.
While the spa services are notable (after check–in, try the jet lag recovery massage), the pool situation could be improved. Plans are in the works to build a second pool, but that may be a few years out. The indoor pool is quite humble and can be on the chillier side, and is in an entirely different part of the building as the small health club, hot tub and other spa area, which includes Scottish showers and a sauna. To note, even older children are not allowed in the hot tub. While this may be a plus for some guests, it may complicate things for families.
All in all, there is a reason why the internationally recognized Alvear is consistently on so many lists of top hotels of the world. If price is not an issue and you want to feel like royalty, consider a stay at the Alvear Palace. While Buenos Aires may be home to many notable luxury hotels, for those with an appreciation for tradition and lavishness, the Alvear Palace easily stands out as one of the city's finest
Review and photos by Cathy Brown except where indicated.
Web Site: www.alvearpalace.com
Total Number of Rooms: 197 Published rates: $570 - $3700