Arroyo 841 Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Regal French opulence mixes with luxurious local touches like Argentine leathers to create a stay worthy of the many ambassadors, politicians, and international businessmen that this palatial hotel attracts.
The Sofitel Buenos Aires, located on one of the most charming and tranquil tree-lined streets in Buenos Aires, is one of the few large hotels in the city that can give the grandeur of the Four Seasons a run for its money. Although the Sofitel is centrally situated very near to Libertador Avenue in Retiro, you feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle with its location on the winding, quiet Arroyo Avenue. This avenue is filled with gorgeous buildings dating back to the 1800s that house world class art galleries and antique shops. The area exudes old world class, and is a great transition to prepare you for the elegance of the Sofitel. The lobby is breathtaking, with black and white marble floors, stunning chandeliers, shrubbery, and a staff that makes you feel like royalty upon check–in.
Decorated by the renowned Pierre–Yves Ronchon, the Sofitel used to be a large apartment building. After the extensive renovation, quirky details still remain in the layout, adding to the charm. It feels like building that you want to explore, as though you could still find secret stairwells and passageways. There is a color palate of soft gold throughout the entire hotel, which is very soothing. The hotel is perfumed throughout by the scent of verbena, which may affect people with allergies or other sensitivities. The staff did say that with notice, they could provide a room that was not perfumed, but the aroma still fills the common areas.
The rooms are very warm, almost feminine. Most rooms have a view of either the river or of the sprawling city. There is a large closet for your belongings, with a full–length, lit mirror, and in addition there is a lot of dresser space. The bathrooms have Bottocinno marble, large tubs with sea salts and L’Occitane products, a phone in the room, and make-up lighting that would satisfy any diva. The bathroom invites you to take hours to pamper yourself getting ready, maybe sipping on an espresso from the in–room Nespresso machine.
No matter how pretty the rooms are, as with any hotel it is the service that differentiates a good hotel from a great one. Details such as returning to your room at night to find your slippers already laid out for you at the foot of the bed, with the sounds of soft classical music to welcome you are just some of the ways that the Sofitel shows that it is a step above the rest.
The standard rooms are quite spacious, but for guests wanting to feel completely like they are at home, or for those planning on hosting either personal or business meetings, the two–storied apartment is the way to go. There is also a huge two-bedroom suite as an option that has two private entrances, hardwood floors, a full kitchen furnished down to the detail of lovely porcelain teacups fit for the Queen of England, and a spacious living area for hosting guests. The apartment and the suite are both decorated lavishly, and not for a second do you feel as though you are in a hotel room. You feel more as though you were borrowing a friend’s posh apartment in the city.
The gym area in the Sofitel is quite large, and is very well–equipped with cardio and weight machines. There is a pool that is much more suited to floating on your back and relaxing than it would be for swimming vigorous laps, as it is warm, lit by candles on the sides and the air is scented heavily with vanilla. The changing area is surprisingly stacked with amenities, such as shaving supplies and extra toothbrushes and toothpaste, and the plush robes from Italy make it so that you are in no rush to get dressed.
There is one restaurant on site, in addition to a lounge and a café. The restaurant, Le Sud, is not to be missed, and may very well be the highlight of your stay. Overly humble for his formidable skills, Chef Olivier Falchi frequently visits with patrons in the dining area, and after talking with him for only a couple of minutes you will get a feel for how much love he pours into his mouth-watering creations. He uses a lot of traditional local ingredients in surprising ways, such as a jelly of Patagonian morel mushrooms over an eggs mollet crocante, or lamb sweetbread dressed in a ginger confit, and the wait staff are prepared to match any of your choices with the perfect wine from their impressive wine list. Top Argentine beef is grilled al quebracho in gaucho tradition and should be paired with a Malbec from Mendoza for very traditional Argentine meal. No matter what you order, save room for his decadent volcan de chocolate, brought out still warm from the oven. Later in the night, enjoy a nightcap in La Bibliotheque lounge, whose drink menu seems to go on for days, with selections ranging from Macallan 18 year Five Oak, to a 2002 Louis Roederer Cristal champagne, to over 22 top–shelf vodkas to choose from. The fireplace adds ambiance, and the library shelves are filled with books on both French and Argentine culture.
Breakfast at Le Sud is just as delightful and satisfying as the dinners are, with the choice of either buffet–style or an extensive a la carte menu. The pastry selection is practically never ending, and homemade breads come with tiny glass jars of dulce de leche, jam from local fruits, and Patagonian honey to choose from. A fluffy Belgian waffle with red fruits, topped with a dollup of dulce de leche is a great way to start the day before walking to some of the nearby attractions, such as Recoleta cemetery or the fashionable shopping at Patio Bullrich.
The Sofitel holds a lot of elegant charm if you are looking to stay in a larger chain hotel that can still manage to maintain a lot of personality. They say that Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America, and a stay at the very French–influenced Sofitel only adds to this feel.
Web Address: www.sofitel.com/es/hotel-3253-sofitel-buenos-aires/
Total Number of Rooms: 140
Published Rates: $275—$3800
Review by Cathy Brown, photos courtesy of Sofitel Buenos Aires