An August 2004 trip
to Buenos Aires by Kauai Boy
Quote: I consider myself a part-time resident of Buenos Aires and typically rent an apartment for my stays in the city. However, for those shorter stays, there is an abundance of hotels, independent or brand-name, that offer accommodations for all tastes and budgets.
The ninth largest city in the world, with a population of about 14 million, Buenos Aires appears to be on the path of recovery from the chaotic economic roller coaster ride of the 1990’s and the eventual devaluation of the Argentine peso in 2002. Currently, the dollar is still quite strong here at about 1 to 3, so excellent deals in some very impressive hotels can be found for even the most budget-minded traveler.
Unless you’re a "chain-traveler" with membership in one of those frequent guest programs, I would recommend shopping around for a locally owned and operated hotel with little or no affiliation with any of the huge international brands. The Sheraton, the Hilton, the Marriott – they’re all here. And, relative to their U.S. or European counterparts, are VERY affordable. However, many of the non-chain Buenos Aires hotels are quite comparable in terms of luxury, facilities, dining, etc. – at substantially lower prices.
Another important factor when selecting a hotel in Buenos Aires is, of course, the purpose of your trip. Since the city is divided up into several "barrios" or districts/neighborhoods, it is important that you select the area most suited to your trip. These are my recommendations, based on the surrounding attractions/facilities, safety, availability of public transportation, etc.
HINT: I recommend checking out the hotels websites and emailing them directly for a current quote. Local hotels often offer discounts that depend on the current occupancy rate. These rates can be lower than those published even on their own websites and are certainly lower than any rate that a travel agent will quote you.
In my descriptions of each hotel, I paid close attention to the availability of public transportation. The easiest and most economical mode, albeit most limited, is the subte, short for subterraneo, Buenos Aires’ subway. Buses (referred to locally as colectivos) are numerous, but the routes are quite complicated. And there are the black & yellow taxicabs – reasonably safe as long as you exercise caution and common sense. If you’re the nervous or extremely cautious type, you might want to settle for a "radio taxi" – call them up from virtually anywhere in the city and they will pick you up and bring you wherever you want them to.
As you approach the corner of Suipacha and M.T. de Alvear, you see a sharp contrast between modern and classic architecture, as older buildings seem to merge into this daunting glass box of a building. Unlike many of the other "modern" hotels in the downtown area, the Bisonte Palace didn’t even attempt to blend in with the surrounding architecture – in fact, the name itself is misleading. With the word "palace" in mind, I was expecting some kind of classic luxury. Instead, I was greeted with a cold rigidity that just didn’t fit in.
The front desk staff was OK – not overly enthusiastic, but not rude. A brief (and I mean BRIEF) look at the rooms didn’t impress me although the standard room was quite spacious, though blandly decorated. In fact, it gave me the same sufficient, but undoubtedly budget-feel that the Hampton Inn in Manhattan, Kansas threw at me a few summers ago.
Now for the positive – the rooms do provide many valuable amenities for the business traveler: desk, internet connection, international calling, etc., as well as a complimentary breakfast buffet (Wow! Just like the Hampton Inn!).
A block to the north is the business stretch of Avenida Santa Fe (banks, airline offices, etc.) – the shopping stretch starts on the other side of Avenida 9 de Julio which is just one block to the west of the hotel. There is no on-property restaurant (or at least I didn’t see one) but there are numerous cafes and diners in the surrounding area. Access to public transportation is excellent here – the Subte Linea C, Gnrl. San Martin station, is just a couple of blocks away, and numerous bus lines pass the hotel on M.T. de Alvear or Suipacha. The Manuel Tienda de Leon station is just a block and a half away with shuttles to/from both of Buenos Aires’ airports.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 13, 2004
Bisonte Palace Hotel
MT ALVEAR 902 ESQ SUIPACHA
Buenos Aires, Argentina
A small yet modern mid-range business hotel, the Dolmen on Suipacha is situated between the busy Avenida Santa Fe and M.T. de Alvear in the downtown Microcentro district. Most rates include a complimentary breakfast buffet, which is provided in the Mezzanine Café, though the dining area is rather small. Standard rooms with a queen bed seem comfortable and each has a minibar, storage safe, internet connection, and a desk area. I didn’t have a chance to check out the suites as they were, according to my tour-guide, all occupied. The health club on the 16th floor is also rather small, but does have a weight machine, a couple of Lifecycles, and a small swimming pool (too small for laps, in my opinion).
A small warning – the sidewalk fronting this hotel is quite narrow and the traffic flows one way to the south (right to left, when facing the street).
After a shopping stroll down Avenida Florida 2 blocks away, stop at the Havana café right around the corner on Santa Fe and pick up a box of their world famous alfajores. Or take a break at Plaza General San Martin. If you want to get away, this hotel is well-situated for public transport – just 1.5 blocks from the Gnrl. San Martin station on the Subte Linea C which is 1 stop away from the Retiro train station.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 13, 2004
Buenos Aires, Argentina
54 114315 7117
This is a nice boutique hotel with an exceptional (!) location – especially for the first-time Buenos Aires visitor. Numerous cultural/historical attractions surround this hotel, as well as a large artisans fair every Saturday just one block away (fronting the cemetery).
I was greeted by a very friendly, bilingual hostess that was very willing to take me on a quick tour of the facilities. Though the standard rooms (especially with two single beds) are a bit cramped, the executive and diplomatic suites are very nice – one bedroom with a double sofa-bed in the living room, mini-bar, jacuzzi , and high-speed internet connection. In my opinion, at just AR$45 more (about US$16), an upgrade to the executive suite is well worth it. There is a nice restaurant downstairs. However, browsing through the menu, prices are even higher than the already pricey restaurants surrounding the hotel. The health club on the 12th floor has a swimming pool and an adjacent Juice Bar, but limited exercise equipment.
Directly across the street is the Recoleta Cemetary. A quick stroll will bring you to the Pilar Church, the Recoleta Cultural Center, and Village Recoleta (shopping/cinema). Restaurants line the walk adjacent to the hotel, though they are a bit pricey. Walk a couple of blocks south to Avenida Las Heras and the prices drop dramatically.
Like most of Recoleta, public transportation is limited to buses (AR$0.85). Currently (August, 2004) the nearest subte line – Linea D, Pueyrredon Station – is about 11 blocks away. However, under construction and just a couple of blocks away is the newest subte line – Linea H – scheduled to be in operation sometime in 2005. Of course, taxis are everywhere.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 13, 2004
Pte. Roberto Ortiz 1835
Buenos Aires, Argentina
54 11 4805 2626
Hotel | "Caesar Park Hotel"
At first, as I took the turn form Montevideo onto Posadas and had my first glimpse of the Caesar Park Hotel, nothing about the plain red-brick building impressed me. However, walking through the pillared hallway into the lobby, I could tell I would be treated to a tour of international luxury with an Argentine flare. The friendly, multi-lingual staff was very accommodating to my request to tour the property. Yes, this is a chain hotel, with member properties in Mexico and Brazil. But the chain is small enough, and, according to my guide, this particular property is not heavily influenced by the franchise headquarters (whatever that meant).
Impressively furnished rooms – even the most basic singles – make this property an excellent high-end business hotel. Though I didn’t see them, my host mentioned that the hotel is equipped with meeting rooms as well as a nice size banquet hall. The on-property restaurant Agras is a bit pricey, especially since there are numerous restaurants nearby with equally luxurious fare with much more reasonable prices.
This five-star hotel is located in the fashionable Recoleta district, near the corner of Libertad and Posadas. By taxi, the property is reasonably close to the business districts of Microcentro and Puerto Madeiro. However, like most of Recoleta, it is nowhere near any subte lines. Many of the major historical/cultural attractions are within walking distance – the Recoleta Cemetary (where Evita is entombed) is about 5 blocks west, while the major shopping street of Santa Fe is about 5 blocks south.
Caesar Park Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina