From left: San Telmo Antiques Market; Olsen restaurant; Algodon Mansion.
Today Buenos Aires is much more than the tango, wine and world-class steak—though you certainly can't go wrong with all three.
WHERE TO STAY
Situated in a 1912 French classical building in the chic Recoleta neighborhood, this 10-suite hotel is the accommodation of choice for discerning travelers. A team of round-the-clock butlers attend to any guest needs, while the open-air Davidoff lounge—a partnership with the cigar company—and the rooftop pool are prime spots for unwinding, day or night. A meal at the property’s fine French-Argentine restaurant Chez Nous shouldn’t be missed.
A brand-new addition to the city’s boutique hotel scene, this trendy property tucked away on a quiet, leafy Recoleta street is a design gem, incorporating touches from local designers and artists. The 11 spacious rooms are decorated with raw materials found in Argentina, such as leather, Lapacho hardwoods, textiles of the Andes such as woven llama and sheep wool, raw cow hides and carved mirrors. Renowned artist Fernando Moy carved the sculpture at the imposing entrance from a 400-year-old Timbo tree.
When local businessman Alan Faena partnered with designer Philippe Starck to open this sexy hotel, its Puerto Madero waterfront location became one of the city’s hottest stomping grounds. The six restaurants and bars each have a special draw: El Mercado for regular Argentine barbecues and El Cabaret for one of the most entertaining tango shows around. The service is exceptional without being stuffy, and the spa is one of the largest in town.
Located in the bohemian Palermo Hollywood district, this hotel with 27 contemporary rooms is a staple for the hip set. They come for perks such as the regular happy hour with Argentine-inspired drinks and tapas, the oasis of a pool area and immediate access to the thriving Buenos Aires homegrown boutique scene, which starts right outside the property’s front door.
WHERE TO SHOP
San Telmo Antiques Market
This more-than-four-decades-old Sunday market in colorful San Telmo has nearly 300 stands hawking everything from early 20th-century furniture and trinkets to murals by up-and-coming artists.
Argentina is known for its leather goods, and this shop, with three Buenos Aires branches, is the place to pick up some of the highest quality leather you can find. The selection includes handbags, jackets for men and women, belts, passport holders and more.
WHAT TO SEE
Faena Arts Center
A former grain mill is now a mainstay in the city’s arts scene, with two massive exhibition rooms featuring works by contemporary artists from around the world. Most of the displays, which rotate every three to six months, have been created specifically for the space.
The Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat Art Collection
The museum’s eponymous founder spent a lifetime collecting a diverse range of art before opening this airy space, which displays about 230 works ranging from pieces by lesser-known 19th-century Argentine painters to those of notable artists such as Rodin and Turner.
El Cabaret Tango Show
In a city where the tango is a longtime passion, shows featuring the sultry dance are a dime a dozen. Skip the touristy and mostly mediocre, and head to this engaging and authentic 90-minute performance held nightly in the intimate theater at the Faena Hotel.
WHERE TO DINE
Molecular gastronomy comes to Buenos Aires courtesy of Dante Liporace, who honed his techniques under the tutelage of Ferran Adría at the now-shuttered elBulli in Spain. His inventive creations such as warm bread with a bone marrow dip continually surprise the palate.
Proof that excellent seafood can be had in a meat-lover’s city, this is one of the dining spots of choice for in-the-know porteños who come for the fish cooked over hot coals and the mixed grilled crustaceans. Steak and lamb might be overshadowed by the jewels from the sea, but they are also top notch.
Simple but beautifully executed dishes such as various cuts of the most tender steak, cheese soufflés and fresh salads is only one reason to dine at this San Telmo restaurant and wine bar—the more than 800 choices of local Argentine wine is the other. 54-11-5291-2380
A highlight at this fantastic, laid-back Scandinavian restaurant is the weekend brunch in the outdoor garden, with picks such as herring, gravadlax (a smoked-salmon dish) and, of course, a lengthy vodka menu. 54-11-4776-7677
This authentic Argentine steak house is perpetually packed for good reason: The service is impeccable, the vibe is buzzing and the steak—such as an exceptional rib eye and bife de chorizo—is a cut above the rest in town.
This article has been adapted from the original, which first appeared in the November 2012 issue of Delta Sky.