Avenida Alvear 1661, Buenos Aires
The Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt opened in 2006 and immediately became a contender for the title of best hotel in Buenos Aires—a city already blessed with gems. This is the best choice for those who like to combine cutting edge design and great service with all the expected amenities in a new hotel.
A short walk from Alvear Palace and the Four Seasons in Recoleta, this Park Hyatt poached staff from both of those spots and one–ups them on a lot of counts. A staggering amount of money went into making the most of this historic palace (next to the Vatican embassy) and blending it in with a newer building on the other side of the gardens. An interesting engineering feat, but a consternation to those with limited mobility, is that guests actually move from one building to the other via a series of marble–clad art and sculpture galleries underneath the gardens.
The check–in, small lobby, bar, and formal restaurant are in the original palace building, but most of the inside has been super–modernized, creating a juxtaposition of the historic and the cutting edge. The entrance is on Avenida Alvear––the most chic street in town—where guests are greeted with all the marble and chandeliers fitting the original palace building. After that, however, the place is as modern as an exhibit at the MALBA museum a few miles away. The lounge is refreshingly odd, with its communal drinking table and two glass–encased enclosures that function as a see–through "wine cellar."
Down one level are the indoor pool and spa, both setting a new standard for the city. The pool is the largest indoor one in town at 25 meters and five marble and oak treatment rooms in the spa have gardens outside the windows. The fitness center is currently the best–equipped in town, including a buff personal trainer on hand to offer advice. A full range of spa treatments are on offer, including a few that have worked well at the sister property in Mendoza. The other restaurant, a business center, and a few upscale shops are in the other newer building reached by the gardens or the corridors. Both restaurants spill out onto terraces in the gardens when weather permits.
Up in the soothing rooms with lots of wood, the newest technology really serves the guest, rather than just sounding impressive to geeks. A wave of the key card opens the room door—nothing to insert. Room lights brighten and dim gradually. Controls by the bed really work, adjusting curtains and lights, including "night mode" bathroom lights that won't blind you when nature calls at 3 a.m.
The safe is big enough for a laptop and has both 110 and 220 plugs. Big HDTV flat screens and DVD players are standard (with Bang and Olufson equipment in the suites). And two cordless phones are not just for the room: you can carry them around the whole hotel and if someone calls your extension, it rings wherever you are.
The custom semi–circular desks allow room service to just bring up an extension, but the chairs are not ergonomic. Well–designed baths have two entrances, with a dressing room, large tub, separate shower stall with rain shower, separate WC, and an excellent array of toiletries. Over half the accommodations are classified as suites, though the numerous Park Suites are really larger one–room junior suites with an additional sitting area, Bang and Olufson stereos, and double vanities in the larger bath. All of them also feature a glass wall with a curtain between the bath and bedroom. Rooms that face the interior gardens have a better view than those facing out. The suites in the original palace building feel larger and have retained some of the original period details. Housekeeping checks in three times daily.
The Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt may not have the historical gravitas of the Alvear Palace or the too–hip trendiness of Faena Hotel & Universe, but it has quickly become the top choice for many visitors to Buenos Aires who can afford to stay anywhere, including those who have been underwhelmed by the Four Seasons.
Review and photos by Tim Leffel.
Web Site: buenosaires.park.hyatt.com
Total Number of Rooms: 204
Published rates: $310 to $1,650