Holiday Inspiration

Buenos Aires Guide

By Susan Ward Davies

From the dog walkers with dozens of beagles on the widest avenues in the world, to the designer boutiques in tiny cobbled enclaves, Argentina’s capital city crackles with a feel-good, dress-well, tastes-great sun-drenched buzz. Its residents – the Porteños – eat late, go dancing much later and don’t get in until the early hours. Even on a school night. When its economy crashed, the city dusted itself off with a bold DIY spirit and gave birth to some great home-grown talent in fashion, music and the arts. Buenos Aires has a unique, totally seductive style, right down to Eva Peron’s final resting place in palatial Recoleta Cemetery.

Where to Stay in Buenos Aires

The Oasis Clubhouse is a modern, stay-over update on the speakeasy, with three luxe bedrooms and a non-stop pool party. The outside of the building, on the coolest street in Palermo Soho, is entirely unmarked and they won’t give you the address until you’re on the list or booked in. Over in the docklands, fashion designer turned hotelier Alan Faena has given his name to the wild, Starck-designed Faena Hotel + Universe, the hotel of choice for visiting rock royalty, including Madonna and Lenny Kravitz.

Where to Eat in Buenos Aires

The crowd at Osaka (Soler 5608; +54 11 4775 6964), the Peruvian/Japanese fusion restaurant, look as good as the artfully presented dishes. The Carpassion plate – salmon carpaccio with passion fruit – will change your life. Head downtown to the no-nonsense, wood-panelled, white-tableclothed Miramar cafe (Sarandi 1190) for lunch, old-school atmosphere, a great wine list and some of the best tapas you’ll ever taste.

Where to Go Out in Buenos Aires

You might not be able to dance a single step, but you can still drink Fernet Branca while enjoying some very elegant electronic tango moves at the fabulous, ramshackle, vaudevillian warehouse, La Catedral (Sarmiento 4006). On Fridays, bohemian vagabond artist Carlos Regazzoni hosts a salon and party at his railway shed studios (Avenida del Libertador 405). Take a sunset tour of some of the most beautiful graffiti in the world with the Graffitimundo crew (info@graffitimundo.com; +54 9113 683 3219) and then go for drinks at the Post Street Bar (Thames 1885), a stencil-art covered dive bar with awesome Krylon-decorated toilets and a graffiti gallery upstairs.

Where to Shop in Buenos Aires

The seven square blocks of Palermo Soho are indie boutique central: Check out the knitted jewellery and fairytale dresses at Nadine Zlotogora (El Salvador 4638; +54 11 4831 4203) and the uniquely sculptural trainers and boots at Rodrigo Reyes (various; Malabia 1682). Argentina is about nothing if not beef and leather. For the latter, shop around the Murillo Street stores for bargains and head to one of the branches of Prüne (various; Gurruchaga 861) or Casa Lopez (various; Marcelo T. de Alvear 640) for more refined, design-conscious bags and jackets. Don’t skip a trip to the Recoleta flagship of Rossi & Caruso (Posadas 1387), the Argentine equivalent of Hermès.

What to Wear in Buenos Aires

Blow-dryed hair and flawless make-up with lush black lashes. Knee high high-heeled boots in winter and lots of local indie labels, like Martin Churba’s Tramando (Tilcara 3455).

Don’t Leave Without...

…a box of Alfajores from a branch of Havanna (havanna.com.ar). If it’s possible for a country to have a national biscuit, this is Argentina’s, and then some. The secret is the dulce de leche filling, which is a caramel made by boiling down condensed milk. You’ll find it on every breakfast buffet and mixed with ice cream for your after-dinner postres.

Beauty SOS – Where to Go for Pampering in Buenos Aires

Go to the Ahin Wellness & Spa at the Palacio Duhau, aka the Park Hyatt (Avenida Alvear 1661; +54 11 5171-1234). What was once one of the grandest palaces in the swishest part of town is now home to an 8,000 square foot spa, renowned for its Skin Resonance facials.

Looking for more travel tips? Check out all ELLEuk’s travel guides.

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