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Saturday, 15 December 2007

Art Hotel, Buenos Aires

Written by Eric Rosen
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art hotel patioWhether you come to Buenos Aires for the history, shopping, food, nightlife, or because you have an abiding fascination with Evita, the Art Hotel in the bustling Barrio Norte neighborhood is a great place to call home during your stay.

Part of a family of inns and boutique hotels called “Rusticae,” Art Hotel is a little gem tucked away on a quiet street between three of Buenos Aires’ biggest avenues—Santa Fe, Callao and Pueyrredon—right in the heart of the upscale Recoleta district.

The hotel, with only 36 rooms, is housed in a former private residence dating back over a century. The original architecture is still intact, with the six floors of the hotel surrounding a central atrium that opens up to a skylight in the ceiling. While this means that some of the rooms do not have windows opening to the outside, there is still plenty of natural light. The rooms are also well ventilated by individual air conditioning and heating systems.

The guest rooms range from cozy singles with twin beds tucked into nooks and crannies, to spacious king-sized rooms with balconies. The rates accommodate most budgets at $65-$190. Plus, some of the rooms have connecting doors, meaning families traveling together can share a suite of adjoining rooms.

art hotel roomThough the building is old, the guest rooms are all new, with simple wrought-iron canopy beds and beautiful wooden desks. The linens and color schemes are neutral whites, taupes and beiges, providing an oasis of calm to help guests relax after a day of braving the hectic streets of the capital. The full bathrooms are large and enameled in concrete, glass and tile. Each room has a safe deposit box, mini bar, and cable television, providing all the amenities of a modern hotel.

There is much more to the Art Hotel than the lavish rooms. Next to the lobby on the ground floor is a cute, narrow café that serves both coffee drinks and bar potables. This is also where the hotel’s daily breakfast (included in the room rates) is served every morning. Unlike the continental breakfast at most hotels, the meal you will get here is by no means meager, and there are choices of cereals, cold cuts, fruits, yogurt and pastries. With such a hearty start to the day, you’ll be set to trek outside and explore the city. There is also a computer station located at the entrance, where guests have access to the internet at all times of day or night.

art hotel galleryTaking up the other half of the ground floor is a small art gallery where the works of local artists are exhibited. For other cultural experiences, the front desk is happy to book you reservations for tango shows, a day out in the countryside at an estancia, as well as providing any maps or tourist information you might need to visit any of the city’s vibrant neighborhoods or myriad museums.

Casa Rosado Part of what makes this hotel such a great find is what is outside its doors. The allure of the Art Hotel lies in its walking-distance proximity to some of Buenos Aires’ most visited sites.


Just a ten-minute stroll down Azcuenaga brings you right to the gates of Recoleta Cemetery, BA’s version of Paris’ famous Père Lachaise. Take a free guided tour and learn all about Argentina’s quirky past while dodging the tourists crowding around Evita Peron’s modest mausoleum. Among Recoleta Cemetery’s eternal residents you will recognize many names and faces from the money and postage stamps of the country, including past presidents: Bartolome Mitre and Domingo Sarmiento, as well as William Brown, an Irish pirate who became the first admiral in the Argentine navy and helped win the struggle for independence in the 19th century. Just try not to pet the Cemetery’s many resident cats, because no one knows where they go at night!

Right on Vicente Lopez Street, which runs along the Cemetery’s northern edge, you can find one of BA’s most well-known leather stores, Uru Cuero Recoleta. Here you can get a jacket made to order just for you as you pore over their selection of leathers, colors, styles and sizes—all at about a third of the cost of a similar item in the United States. Continue on Vicente Lopez to the start of Avenida Pueyrredon, and you will come to Design Buenos Aires, a shopping center with some of the best furniture, housewares, and design stores in South America.

On the other side of the Cemetery, just across Avenida Del Libertador, you can visit the Museo de Bellas Artes, which houses Argentina’s fine arts collection. Further along, towards the expansive parks of the Palermo neighborhood, you will find the crown jewel of Buenos Aires museums, the Museo Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), which houses an impressive collection of Latin American Art from the 20th century including works by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Jorge de la Vega, and perhaps Argentina’s most eccentric artist, the late Xul Solar, who lived in his own time zone. There is also a great café where you can grab a post-exhibit snack.

Then take a few hours to meander through the parks of Palermo, where you can visit the Planetarium, the Japanese Garden and the Zoo. On your way back to the hotel, you might stop by the new Evita Museum on Calle Gutierrez, just a block from the park. Here you will see exhibits about Evita’s early life, her political career and ideologies, as well as some of her clothes and jewelry. Though it presents a generally rosy picture of Argentina’s iconic former first lady, the museum does make an effort to be evenhanded in its treatment of her shortcomings, and the curios alone are worth the visit.

Cafe TortoniIf you’ve had enough walking and want to venture farther a field, it might be time to hop in a taxi, especially since a cross-town taxi ride still goes for under $10. Just ten minutes away from the Art Hotel are the sites of the city center, like the Casa Rosada (the presidential palace); the Congress; the Plaza del Mayo; and Jorge Luis Borges’ old haunt, the venerable Café Tortoni. You might also take in a concert at the famous Luna Park Stadium nearby, or wander the renovated docks of the old port in Puerto Madero,BA where apartments and restaurants are taking over abandoned warehouses. Walking across Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest street in the world, is also a must.



La BocaAnother ten-minute taxi ride will take you to the colorful if over-touristed alleys of La Boca, with its street tango dancers and sketch artists. On the way back, stop in picturesque San Telmo and wander along its cobblestone streets as you peruse the innumerable antiques stores that fill the area.

By now it’s time to explore the city’s dining scene, and there are plenty of Argentine hot spots quite near the hotel, like über-chic Gran Bar Danzon, with it’s black-and-white dining room, where you can try nouvelle Argentine cuisine in the company of some of the city’s young up-and-comers.

Another great option is to head to Palermo Viejo (separated into its newly named components of Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood) and you can take the Green Line of the BA Metro, which is located just a few blocks from the Art Hotel. Palermo Viejo is the rejuvenated bohemian heart of the city, and there you will find some of the city’s most innovative cuisine, ranging from the hip Bar Uriarte (owned by the same team that operates Gran Bar Danzon), to the more traditional and always popular La Cabrera, to the nouvelle Vietnamese Green Bamboo with its extensive menu of savory delights. If you are not yet sick of steak and are more in the mood for a traditional Argentine parrilla, or grill, you can find plenty of options in this area as well, like the adorable La Dorita (a favorite among locals), or the sleek Soberbia 22, which has a lively open kitchen and whose owner, Aldo, personally makes sure that each diner has the best experience possible.

After dinner, stroll through the quaint, leafy streets and window-shop at the area’s one-of-a-kind boutiques and art galleries. Once you’ve digested your dinner, follow some of the city’s youth who are sure to be roving Palermo Viejo’s nighttime streets as they hop from bar to trendy bar around the Plaza Serrano before hitting the clubs. And don’t hurry through any part of the evening, since you won’t find anyone at the discos before two or even three in the morning.

It’s a relief to know that after your night out you can sink into the plush, overstuffed beds at the Art Hotel for a peaceful night’s sleep before another big day in the big city. With its central location, beautiful rooms, accommodating staff and delightful amenities, the Art Hotel is a great option for travelers to Buenos Aires.

Art Hotel

Azcuenaga 1268

Barrio Norte, Recoleta

Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA
+54 11 4821 4744

© Eric Rosen

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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