by Carole Edrich
Historic spaces, intimate places, and stylish facilities that defy conventional ratings are characteristics of Argentina's better boutique hotels. A good location, high level of personal service, original architecture and décor, and an experience that's unique is also key. Here are the jewels in the crown of this country's ever-growing boutique hotel industry.
Buenos Aires Region
Paseo Victorica 800, 1648 Tigre, Provincia de Buenos Aires
Located in Tigre, this house, originally constructed in 1913, has been carefully renovated and incorporates both Café Bistro and a terrace overlooking the Luján River. Entirely non-smoking, the hotel is characterized by large light rooms, galleries with white pillars, Belle Epoque staircases, thick walls, and wooden window fittings. There is ample parking, room service between 7am and midnight, and Wi-Fi that's strongest in the public areas on the ground floor. Facilities include comfortable lounge areas, a reading room and library, lavish gardens, and a heated swimming pool. Friendly multilingual staffers are happy to help and the hotel has special arrangements for guests to use local rowing club facilities.
Great for those who love water sports, it takes about 40 minutes to get to central Buenos Aires from this up-market area, still prized by those living in Buenos Aires City for their holiday weekends. Local attractions include exclusive restaurants, a fruit market, casino, Reconquista, plus Naval and Coast Guard Museums. Golf courses and Polo are also easily accessible as is the Tigre delta itself.
Villa Julia Tigre
$103 - 169
Hotel de Casco
Avenida del Libertador 16.170. San Isidro, Buenos Aires
The Hotel De Casco was originally built in 1892 as a rather exclusive summer house. This beautifully restored colonial mansion provides a flavor of what life must have been like in Argentina's boom days. Now San Isidro is a picturesquely historic suburb favored by the smart set and city slickers of Buenos Aires. While the area isn't yet on the tourist radar, it's easy to imagine writers staying here to complete a novel or visiting artists wandering along the suburb's long waterfront and picturesque marina in search of serenity and inspiration. Picture polished wood floors, crystal chandeliers, roll top baths, lovingly maintained classic furniture, fine paintings, and beautiful bed linens.
The relaxed atmosphere provides an ideal retreat from the frantic pace of central Buenos Aires. Staffers speak a wide range of languages including English and the lack of on-site restaurant is not a huge problem as a local restaurant is happy to deliver meals to the rooms. The hotel also boasts a charming interior patio with glass ceiling and thick walls and spacious arched galleries in its communal spaces. It has a bar, reading room and library, and complimentary access to a nearby low-key gym.
Hotel de Casco ideal for a quiet, romantic stay or for those interested in golf, racehorses, or sailing or windsurfing at San Isidro's marina. The hotel also has direct access to some good yacht clubs and is only 20 minutes from Pilar, Argentina's high-goal polo center.
18 rooms and a separate villa that houses 4-7
Cavas Wine Lodge
Costaflores, Alto Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo Mendoza
Each huge and well designed suite here is pleasantly quiet and has ground-level and rooftop terraces, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a private cold pool and stunningly romantic vistas of wine terraces and the Andean range beyond. See our full review of Cavas Wine Lodge.
Luján de Cuyo / Maipú
This fine inn is a beautifully restored 1890s villa with its own spa and one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the area. Once owned by the Governor Francisco Gabrielli, the adjoining renaissance-style residence is now an exclusive private villa in its own grounds. Both buildings are surrounded by 10 hectares of vineyards from which come the grapes for some excellent wines. See our full review of Club Tapiz.
La Posada de Vistalba
Roque Saenz Peña 3531, Vistalba - Mendoza, Luján de Cuyo, Vistalba t 261/498-9400
Providing what must be the most comfortably spectacular means of watching sunrise and sunset over beautiful vineyards and the stunning Andes backdrop in Mendoza, an in-room breakfast enables guests to savour the experience in privacy as this extraordinarily special place offers just two south-facing guest rooms. Situated in a Tuscan style terracotta building within the 53 hectares Carlos Pulenta Winery, each 70 meter-squared room is luxuriously appointed with floor-to-ceiling picture windows, each with ample terraces and comfortable wicker outdoor furniture.
While there is no swimming pool (this is a working winery), compensations include meals from La Borgogne (one of the area's best restaurants) and a modern business center. Guests can really see the business of a winery in action: there are end-to-end tours through the winemaking process, personal tastings of Vistalba's very high quality wines, cookery classes with La Borgogne's chef, and free run of the winery and its environs. Mornings can be quite noisy part of the year so don't plan on sleeping in. Service is pleasant and helpful and a night porter is on hand when daytime staff have gone.
Carlos Pulenta Wines and Lodge
Estancia 25 de Mayo El Calafate, Santa Cruz
One of the larger boutique hotels, Kau-Yatun, which is located on six acres of gorgeous Patagonian parkland, provides a high level of personal service. Staffers are attentive, the excellent in-house restaurant uses local and organic ingredients, and in-room attention to detail includes daily provision of home made chocolates and fresh flower arrangements. Bicycles are provided to guests free of charge and the converted finca also includes a beauty parlour, tearoom, and gardens complete with children's swings. Despite occasional problems with water pressure, Kau-Yatun's general ambience makes the place feel like a home from home.
Kau-Yatun is perfect for those with children wanting to combine glaciers and local nature with a range of adventure. This is a quiet hotel that's conveniently close to Central Calafate and the staff is happy to facilitate tours, treks, horse riding, skiing and summer water sports.
Continued - Salta, Cafayate, and the Best of the Rest
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