Saint Jerome 243/257, Cordoba, Argentina
The only true boutique hotel in Argentina's second largest city is a centrally located oasis of space, style, and service.
From the bustling street in central Córdoba, the Azur Real Hotel Boutique looks narrow and factory-like. It was built that way more than 100 years ago when the building was created as a school with function over form in mind. Once inside, the hotel reveals itself to be airy and stylish thanks to a five-year renovation by the current owners.
Most of the hotel's 15 rooms exist in what were classrooms (you can see the original classroom numbers above the tall original doors). Duplex suites on the top floor were added in 2015 and they're worth the splurge with a small sitting area, two TVs, a pod coffee machine, a spacious desk, a large dressing area, and a bathroom with a shower and a separate and enormous jetted tub. All rooms have bath amenities made with yerba, plus robes and slippers. Paintings by local artists rotate in and out of the hotel to decorate rooms and common spaces with a bit of local flavor.
Azur Real opened in 2009, but all hotel facilities were refreshed in 2018, including new furnishings. This gives the place an updated look and feel. English-speaking staff members were extremely responsive and helpful and the central location means you're just a few blocks from the museums, parks, architecture, market, and other attractions in the center of the city.
The hotel was the original home of Republica Restaurant, one of the best in the city. In 2017, the restaurant outgrew the space and moved to larger digs in a nearby suburb. A meal at Republica is still recommended as part of your visit to Córdoba. Chef/owner Miguel Escalante was born in Córdoba but worked around the world before returning home. At Republica, Chef Escalante turns out a la carte and tasting menu dishes like cold Patagonian crab in an olive oil emulsion infused with pepperoni to add smokiness to the sweet crab. Handmade tortellini filled with gorgonzola in a lavender cream sauce was rich but not overwhelming. The space is modern, with a jazzy soundtrack and a vertical wine cellar wall which displays some of the 200+ bottles on offer.
Today, the hotel's on-site restaurant is casual and comfortable in a country store way. It's the perfect setting for a homey breakfast buffet including scrambled eggs, fruit, yogurt, homemade bread, and Argentina's ubiquitous croissant-like media lunas, coffee, and fresh juice. The restaurant also handles room service and offers a sit-down dinner menu. I had a tender and rich slow-cooked chicken dish with vegetables which was like a Latin coq au vin.
The hotel's rooftop open-air lounge is comfortable and inviting and the warmer temperatures in Córdoba mean that guests can enjoy the space pretty much year-round. The roof deck also has a small plunge pool and plenty of lounging furniture, including day beds. This is an excellent place to enjoy the hotel's nightly guest happy hour with regional salami, cheese, and wine.
The small gym, with a treadmill, bike, step machine, weights, and kettlebells, is located inside a glassed-in cube on the top level near the plunge pool. When I was at the hotel, management was in the process of turning a sub level of the building into a water circuit spa with saunas, a pool, and massage rooms which will make Azur Real even more of an oasis in the city.
Web Address: www.azurrealhotel.com
Total Number of Rooms: 15
Published rates: $140-$195 double occupancy including breakfast
Review by Karen Catchpole, photos by Eric Mohl