Av Alvear 1891,
Alvear Palace Hotel is all about grandeur the way it was in the heyday of when it opened in 1932: Oriental rugs on acres of marble, crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors, fine china, and impeccable service from people in formal attire. It would all be more than a bit pretentious if they didn't come so close to perfection on such a regular basis.
Most descriptions of Alvear Palace follow the same route: "grand dame" "gilded age of Buenos Aires," "high society's meeting place" and the like. Some of this applies to nearby Caesar Park Hotel as well, but Alvear is not just coasting on its golden past. It remains the prestige address in town (yes, still a good notch above the Four Seasons in terms of striking an impression with the locals) because it is impeccably rich and refined, yet updated in all the right ways.
Stepping into the lobby here is like stepping into a historic movie where everything for the rich was built sparing no expense. The décor is described as "Empire and Luis XV style" and the French were certainly the inspiration. Classical music and jazz waft through the public areas, which are filled with gold leaf, marble columns, gold–trimmed velvet drapes, fine art, and antiques. The full–page celebrity guest list would be the envy of nearly any hotel in the world. Who else has hosted the King of Spain, the Emperor of Japan, Walt Disney, George Soros, Francis Ford Coppola, and…Pamela Anderson?
La Bourgogne restaurant and the La Orangerie bar are the spots for power brokering and being seen, with high tea being a high drama affair at the latter and dinner taking it up a notch at the former. Even if you don't stay here, it's worth coming by for a drink or a meal. La Bourgogne is the only Relais Gormand restaurant in Latin America, in a city known for fine food all around. The wine list boasts 650 labels and the wine cellar itself holds 40 for parties. The comfortable lobby bar offers a more casual space to take it all in, with a view of everyone coming in and out.
When it comes to accommodations, this is no fading relic clinging to the past. Some find the contrast of floral antique reproduction furniture and hi–tech phones that control the lighting and music a bit disconcerting, but where else can you stretch out in a marble whirlpool tub and watch a flat–screen TV? You can only do that in a suite, actually, but 100 of the 210 rooms here are suites, giving the Alvear Palace the highest proportion in town by far. Standard rooms are still luxurious, all stocked with the same quality furniture and drapes, complimentary pressings, flowers and a fruit basket, and plenty of the latest gadgetry. Wi–fi mixed with 500 thread–count sheets, a cordless phone combined with Hermes toiletries. If you want, a personal butler will unpack your clothes and get your shoes shined. State your needs ahead of time and you can get a personal shopper, cell–phone rental, or an in–room PC set–up.
The pocket indoor swimming pool here is nothing to get excited about and both it and the spa have been eclipsed by the newer and larger one at the Park Hyatt. The availability of a quick 20–minute "jet lag recovery massage" is a nice touch though.
Alvear Palace Hotel is at the literal and figurative heart of Avenida Alvear and is convenient to most area attractions. It is the old money antithesis of Faena Hotel and Universe and still holds its own against the challenges from the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt and Four Seasons. If your idea of luxury is impeccable service, antiques, and fine fabrics in traditional style, this is the place to be in B.A.
Review by Tim Leffel, photos courtesy of Alvear Palace.
Web Site: www.alvearpalace.com
Total Number of Rooms: 210
Published rates: $385 to $3,800
Return to Argentina Luxury Hotels
Return to Luxury Travel in Argentina