Monday, March 24, 2008

My Top 10 Places to Stay in Argentina

After a rather lengthy tour around Argentina, I thought it would be helpful to share the best hotels, inns and estancias I've come across.

I've taken my lead from fellow Quaffer, BA expat and full-time tour guideAlan, who has compiled a list of his favorite hotels in Buenos Aires over at his blog.

But Argentina has so much more than just Buenos Aires. So here is my list of the best beds Argentina has to offer—assuming price is no object.

1. Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires


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Simply one of my favorite hotels in the whole world.

Even though it is brand new, the Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires has found it's place among the best hotels in Buenos Aires and has found it to the top of my list of best hotels.

To some, the Alvear (see #4 below) is the Grand Damme of Buenos Aires hotels. However, if you are like me, and all the marble, gold and gilded, white-glove service seems a bit dated and stuffy, head over to the Park Hyatt. The service at the Park Hyatt is warm and sleek and every bit as attentive with a very high staff to guest ratio.

The rooms are modern and cozy. This is what luxury in the twenty first century should be like. The tea and brunch at the Park Hyatt are wonderful treats and a favorite choice for my daughter on special occasions.

The Park Hyatt is really two hotels in one. The part facing Ave. Alvear was once a private palace. It has been wonderfully restored and blends the best of old and new. The tower facing Posadas street is sleek and modern.

It is one of the priciest beds in town. But, you will be rubbing shoulders with rock stars and other celebs passing through town.


2. Llao Llao Hotel and Resort Bariloche


Hotel Llao Llao

My second favorite hotel is the Llao Llao Hotel and Golf Resort located 30km west of Bariloche. The views are breathtaking in every direction.

It is a great place to stay if you are on a romantic getaway, have the kids in tow, or if you are a celeb looking to hang with your gal pals. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy. Or if you prefer, there are plenty of great spots to do nothing but soak up the sun and the incredible views.

Golfer? This is the place for you. The views from the golf course are better than Pebble Beach.

You can find more pics in my earlier blog post on my stay.


3. Four Seasons Buenos Aires


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Four Seasons reputation for excellence is not wasted on the Four Seasons Buenos Aires. It is a great place to stay if you are on business or traveling on your own.

To be honest, it was about 10 years or so ago when I stayed there as a young software executive on my first visit to Buenos Aires. It was the nicest hotel I had stayed in at the time, only it wasn't the Four Seasons. It was the Park Hyatt back then.

Fast forward several years later and through a major renovation, it is even nicer than I remembered. The service, like the other two Buenos Aires hotels on the list, is top notch and its location just off 9 de Julio can't be beat.

Brunch here shouldn't be missed. My family took me to Sunday brunch here for my birthday. It was more my style than the brunches at the Park Hyatt or the Alvear—less pretentious and friendlier, but every bit as nice.

Similar to the new Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, the hotel features a wonderful french-style mansion in the back and a new, modern tower in the front. Ask for a room with a view of the pool and the mansion. You may even get a great view of the Obelisk.


4. Alvear Palace Hotel Buenos Aires.


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Ask any porteño what the best hotel in Buenos Aires is, and they will all say the Alvear. For over 75 years this hotel has staged some of the most important events in Buenos Aires. It's white gloved service can't be matched. The english speaking staff from the concierge to the butler are eager to assist with any need.

For those looking for a throwback to a bygone era, this is the place for you. It is a beautiful old hotel filled with more marble and goldleaf than you have ever seen. The Alvear is grand without being gaudy. I prefer my hotels a little less gilded though. That is why it is not my top rated BA hotel.

However, the Sunday brunch and high tea are unmatched for their level of service and a great treat for visitors even if you aren't staying there. Either one is a must do on any tourists checklist.


5. Estancia Dos Lunas


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If you come to Argentina, you have to experience a stay at a working estancia. Dos Lunas outside of Córdoba is one of the best. It is the perfect escape from the modern world and you get to experience what life was like for Argentina's wealthy landowners.

The food at Dos Lunas is exceptional and the hospitality warm and friendly. No TV, phone, or internet for miles.

There may be better estancias in Argentina, I have not found one yet. My family ranks our stay at Dos Lunas as our favorite memory in Argentina so far. I raved about our stay in my Dos Lunas post with plenty of pics.


6. Park Hyatt Mendoza


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There simply isn't any other choice when staying in Mendoza other than the Park Hyatt Mendoza. It is situated in the heart of Mendoza right on the main square.

Like it's sister hotel in Buenos Aires, the Park Hyatt has designed a sleek modern hotel into a beautiful old building from Mendoza's past. The rooms are large, modern and very comfy. The the outstanding service is warm and friendly and can arrange any of your outdoor activities or wine tours.

Food at all of the restaurants are some of the best bites in town. Sushi on the patio on Friday nights shouldn't be missed.

The kids really enjoyed the small, but uniquely designed pool. Can't say much about the attached Casino, but the Spa is highly rated by past visitors over at TripAdvisor


7. Eolo - Patagonia's Spirit


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El Calafate took my breath away and nudged out Bariloche as my favorite place in Patagonia. The best place to stay in Calafate has to be Eolo.

Well, you could spend $1000 (yes, that is one thousand US dollars) more a night to stay at Los Notros and be closer to the glacier. But, is it not worth it? The staff, service and food at Eolo are all exceptional.

Above all, it is the beautiful setting that sets Eolo apart. It is the ultimate room with a view as visitors are enveloped in the beauty and remoteness of southern Patagonia. It is one of those special places that shouldn't be missed.


8. Las Balsas


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I wrote in my blog post about Bariloche that Villa La Angostura is the place
to stay for smart Argentine traveler in the know. The quaint
village is a lot more welcoming than run-down Bariloche across the lake.

There is not better place to stay in Villa La Angostura than Las Balsas. This small quiet inn is right on the lake with a chef that is world renowned. Probably not a place to take the kids. But, this is the place if you want a romantic getaway in the Bailoche area.

Las Balsas makes a great alternative to the Hotel Llao Llao (the other Bariloche area hotel on my list) if you prefer small comfortable inns over big resorts.


9. Hotel de Montaña Río Hermoso


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Río Hermosa Hotel is one of Patagonia's best kept secrets. It is located right on the banks of the Río Hermoso in Lanín National Park. It is south of San Martín de los Andes in the middle of nowhere.

Like Las Balsas (see above), it is a small gem of a hotel. However, it is more secluded and private than Las Balsas and ideal for those wanting an exclusive get away close to nature. My Argentine travel agent once joked, "Las Balsas is where we take our wives, Río Hermoso is where we take our mistresses. And when you are done with her, you have the best fly fishing right at your doorstep."

I guess for certain men, it couldn't get much better than that. Río Hermoso tops my list of places to stay in the San Martín del los Andes area. I will be staying here when I return. With my wife of course.


10. The Cavas Wine Lodge


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Touring Mendoza for the wine? Then you have to stay at The Cavas Wine Lodge. It is located at the base of Andes Mountains surrounded by lush vineyards 20 minutes south of Mendoza.

It was the first hotel in Mendoza dedicated to wine. Cavas Wine Lodge is known for its privacy, tranquility and romance (i.e. no kids allowed). Guests are surrounded by great wine, food and natural beauty.

The rooms are actually small casitas in the middle of the vineyard and feature private pools and rooftop fireplaces. Most guests comment that their fondest memory is drinking a bottle of wine with their spouse rooftop in front of the outdoor fireplace while the sun set over the Andes. The luxurious spa is top rated by former guests as well.

It is the one place we wanted to stay in Mendoza but couldn't because we had the kids in tow. So on this one, I'm going strictly by everyone else's strong praise.



What is your favorite place in Argentina?

What do you think? Did I leave your favorite hotel or estancia off the list? I know I have short changed Salta, Tucuman and other regions to the north. However, I haven't been lucky enough to visit the north of Argentina yet. What are your recommendations?

11 comments:

Alan Patrick said...

Hi Dave,

Long time no see! I guess I should arrange another Quaffers event soon :-)

Two things - firstly, I wish I was a part time tour guide! At the moment I'm so busy I feel like I'm working two full time jobs (I haven't even had time to open my blog admin to approve a comment you wrote a while back, sorry!)

Secondly, my list was not intended to be the best hotels in BA. It was more supposed to be a list of nice, expensive (for me) hotels in BA where it is possible to enjoy them without staying at them (or "on the cheap", as I wrote), such as cocktails at the Faena, brunch at the Four Seasons, etc.

Nice list you've put together here. Hopefully one day I'll stay at some of them :-)

Quickroute said...

Nice list! I'm more of a budget traveler but did stay at Termas Cacheuta outside Mendoza which was great. The rooms are not plush by any standards but the location is great for some R n' R and the spa services are excellent!

Longhorn Dave said...

Alan:

Yes. I'm looking forward to my first Quaffers since I've been back.

Maybe the two of us can recruit the Yankster for an exploratory mission to find the next venue. Of course we'll have to sample more than a few pints at each place to get a good feel.

Sorry, I was mistaken you about your full-time job. I guess word has spread about how great your tour is.

Your post was a great one. Hopefully, you are flattered that it was my inspiration.

Frank.Sugar&Spice said...

Hi Dave,

Great list. I have stayed at two of the hotels mentioned on your list (Alvear, Los Notros).

The first one becuase that is where I got married and the second one was, at the time that I went, the only great hotel in the region. It was also one of the best visits I have had to anywhere in Argentina.

The food was great, they took us hicking up to the glacier (part hike, part boat ride) and they packed our lunch for us. They also led us on a hike on top of the glacier where we reached a bench and had chocolates and whisky. All the rooms had views to the glacier and you could hear parts of it breaking off. Not only that, but you even had a view of the glacier from the bathroom, sitting on the porcelain throne.

I know I had a great time so I am sure you guys had one great trip.

Villa La Angostura said...

Hello!!!

I¨m glad you enjoy the Paradise in Villa La Angostura.
Plese take a look at
http://angosturablog.blogspot.com
I´ll wait for your comment...
Best regards.
Alejandro Povolo

Longhorn Dave said...

I'm glad you liked Los Notros Frank. It is as close as you can get to the Porito Moreno Glacier. It must of been pretty cool to sit on the toilette and see and hear the Glacier.

Once you pay the car rental or the remis to get out there a few times you've spent another 300 to 600 pesos. So I guess the extra cost of Los Notros starts look worth it.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dave,
My name is Giselle Kaplan. I am Río Hermoso Hotel Manager. I wrote to you before and I do it again. Thank you for your comments (and those of your travel agent). We will be waiting for you, no matter who your partner is. It will be a pleasure meeting you.
Best wishes.
Giselle

Rajesh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robert said...

A very interesting list! Made for a man with a much thicker wallet than mine, it nevertheless contains good, eye-opening suggestions -- thanks!

You may wish to proof-read the posting -- some grammatical errors (e.g., "the hotel feature's a wonderful french style mansion in the back and a new modern tower" = "the hotel features are . . ."), etc.

Carol said...

woww!!
Beautifull!!!
Hope the Buenos Aires apartments that my friend and I are staying looked like that!!!
amazing places!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at atexaninargentina.blogspot.com could post it.

Thanks,
Peter