Rodríguez Peña 1967, Buenos Aires, Argentina
It would be easy to think you're in the wrong place when you first arrive at Hub Porteño: there's no sign announcing the hotel's presence, just an elegant doorman who nods reassuringly as you step into the striking white marble entryway illuminated by stained–glass lanterns. (As the hotel's owner, Gonzalo Robredo, says later of the gleaming marble, brought in from Argentina's north, "You never have a second chance to make a first impression.")
The first impression at Hub Porteño is unique, indeed — it's not like arriving at a hotel, more like you're coming back home to your fantasy version of a luxurious urban townhouse. There's no reception desk on the ground floor, just a sophisticated living room where a pasta frola cake and a glass pitcher of strawberry lemonade, laid out beautifully beside a spray of roses on a low coffee table, beckon you to sit down for merienda on the ivory leather sofa. Momentarily, a staff member appears, offering to escort you to your suite — at your leisure, of course. This is "check–in."
Upstairs in the hushed hallways, notable artworks, many borrowed from the prestigious Fortabat collection, line the walls. Important Argentinian pieces are also on display inside the suites themselves: huge, gorgeously appointed rooms featuring a smart mix of antique furniture and contemporary décor. Beside the sleek king–sized bed, for instance, note the hand–carved wooden writing desk and romantic silver–plated mirror; in front of a large flat–screen television, find an antique rocking chair.
Adjacent marble bathrooms are downright palatial, with inviting Jacuzzi tubs and massive walk–in showers. The proportions are impressive, but in the end, the pleasure of these suites is often found in the thoughtful details: a loveseat beside the bath, a Nespresso machine, a wine cooler and accompanying stemware, the iPod dock and stereo system. In a refreshing digression from the norm, each suite has complimentary snacks on offer, too, from alfajores (Argentinian sandwich cookies) to soft drinks and sparkling water.
None of the eleven suites are numbered, adding to the feeling that you're not at a hotel at all, but staying in a wealthy friend's fabulous city home. Such a concept is a major departure from the neighborhood standard. Hub Porteño is, after all, located just around the corner from two of Buenos Aires' most famous (and much larger) luxury hotels, the Alvear Palace and the Park Hyatt — Palacio Duhau. Hub Porteño evokes all the old–world glamour of the posh barrio of Recoleta, but on a much smaller, more personal scale.
Which isn't to say that the hotel is overly private: there's a steady stream of porteño foodies passing through on their way to the hotel's onsite restaurant, Tarquino. Chef Dante Liporace, who worked with the legendary Ferrán Adriá at El Bulli, is locally famous for his "head–to–toe" cow menu and his contributions to the developing modern Argentinian cuisine referred to as la nueva cocina argentina. The cozy dining space, complete with a glass roof and striking overhead art installations, is also the site of Hub Porteño's elegant a la carte breakfast.
Amenities available to guests include the lovely, leafy rooftop terrace, with its open–air cocktail bar and plush lounge space, conveniently shaded from the sun, plus a small fitness center, sauna, and spa room where a variety of treatments are easily arranged.
Perhaps most noteworthy, however, is Hub Porteño's first–class concierge service. The well–connected staff proudly sets up "local experiences." The four signature experiences are Tango, Evita, The Gauchos, and Belle Epoque, but the hotel also offers tailor–made itineraries built around guests' interests in history, art, music, literature, fashion, and polo, complete with English–speaking guides and drivers. In a city that overwhelms with its cultural offerings, it's an indispensable service. You're already staying in a private townhouse, after all, and enjoying free drinks in your suite; you might as well revel in the local experience and let some in–the–know Argentinians show you around Buenos Aires.
Web Address: www.hubporteno.com
Total Number of Rooms: 11
Published Rates: $403-$989 BB
Review and photos by Bridget Gleeson.