Buenos Aires Travel Guide

Buenos Aires Travel Guide

Shrewdly founded by early Spanish settlers at the delta of the Río de la Plata, Buenos Aires, the sprawling capital of Argentina, has long been one of Latin America’s most important trade hubs, now also a thriving centre of culture, politics and technology. A gay mecca consistently at the forefront of progress and acceptance in the region, Buenos Aires is a worthy city to visit, even if only for the empanadas alone. Besides its meaty gastronomy scene, led by prime Argentine beef and twists on European classics, Buenos Aires boasts upscale luxury hotels and countless distinct barrios to explore; such as fancy Puerto Madero and Plaza Serrano. For the whole month of November, visitors can expect Pride festivities like no other, starting in Palermo Soho and radiating out across the entire city. Looking for the ultimate Buenos Aires travel guide? Mr Hudson has got you covered.

The best hotels in Buenos Aires

Let’s start this gay Buenos Aires travel guide with a roundup of the best hotels in Buenos Aires. Choosing where to stay in Buenos Aires will be tough, mostly because there are so many options, especially when it comes to high-end properties. The Alvear Palace is a classic white glove service and will not disappoint. The butler service they provide is one of the best, as most of the butlers have attended the Louis Vuitton course on luggage packing, making them extreme experts. This place is over the top fancy, and if that’s your scene, it’s where you need to be. For a more modern twist, still, with the white glove service sans the gloves, the Alvear Art is the hip younger sister property of the palace and has one of the coolest enclosed rooftop pools in the city. The lobby bar serves some superb craft cocktails, and the rooms are up to date and super tech-friendly There’s also a Four Seasons, which has a mansion in the back of the property for that ultra-exclusive stay that includes speciality suites. The spa and bar at this property are also worth a visit.

Over in a different part of town, which is quickly becoming the place to be, Puerto Madero is home to more artsy lux properties and will soon be adding the trio to the Alvear empire in Buenos Aires. The recently opened Alvear Icon is a beautiful combo of hotel and residences. Nearby to the construction site is Faena, one of the most interesting hotels in the city, and aesthetically brilliant to the eye. If you can snag a suite here, they are incredibly different and special. The hotel also has some exciting public spaces where there is constant live music and shows. It also features Rojo Tango in their in-house theatre, which is known as one of the best tango cabaret shows in the city. And don’t miss the unicorn head decor of Bistro Sur.

Those looking for more of a neighbourhood experience where one can immerse themselves like a local should try Palermo, which is divided up into so many different sub-neighbourhoods (Palermo SoHo, Palermo Hollywood, etc.); you know it’s chic as hell. Hotels worthy of a stay include Fierro Hotel, Legado Mítico and Home Hotel.

Faena Hotel

Faena Hotel

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Recommended hotels in Buenos Aires
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Faena Hotel

Faena Hotel

The island is meant as a getaway, a place to rest for the day and be at one with nature and art. Several high profile celebrities, including Madonna, have frequented it

Things to do in Buenos Aires

Listen, we all have seen those tourist groups in every major city of the world, and although they may be slightly offensive at first sight, some people enjoy acclimating to a place taking these types of tours. The Highlights of Buenos Aires Guided Tour is an option for those who enjoy that sort of thing but in a small group. If you prefer to see the city differently and aren’t afraid to brave the mean streets of the city by bike, Buenos Aires Bike Tour is probably for you. Mind you, the drivers in the city are a bit intense, so use extra caution when biking in Buenos Aires.

Now this last suggestion is for something truly unique and not typical when visiting Buenos Aires. Just a quick drive outside of the city limit is a river delta and an area known as Tigre. The microclimate here is unlike anywhere else in the world, which has resulted in an array of botanical gardens on a private island, Isla El Descanso. Via private bookings, guests can be shuttled by boat to the island where they can spend the day exploring the gardens as well as one of the largest private collections of significant sculptures within the gardens. Guests can also arrange for breakfasts, teas or even a private lunch by the pool. The island is meant as a getaway, a place to rest for the day and be at one with nature and art. Several high profile celebrities, including Madonna, have frequented it. With that being said, the island can also accommodate for private helicopter landings. If you cannot afford to stay at el Descanso, you can opt for a Tigre Island Boat Trip instead.

La Boca | Photo: Tomas Pedroni

La Boca | Photo: Tomas Pedroni

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Recommended experiences in Buenos Aires
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Isla el Descanso Tigre | Photo: Jurriaan Teulings

Isla el Descanso Tigre | Photo: Jurriaan Teulings

What to see in Buenos Aires

Broken up into very distinct neighbourhoods (or barrios), a trip through the streets of Buenos Aires will introduce you to diverse local lifestyles and the unique styles within each. Upscale barrio Belgrano, as well as being a leafy residential area filled with enviable homes, is also a bustling commercial hub. Neighbouring Palermo, a slightly gentrified art district, contains a nice mix of local artists’ studios and upscale boutiques and restaurants. La Boca, meanwhile, is all about the lives of artists and immigrants while Puerto Madero, former entry port to the city, has now become the hot spot to live, work and play. For historical sights, try Montserrat as well as Recoleta, home to aristocrats and most of the well-known lux hotels mentioned above. Then there’s San Nicolas in the heart of the city, where you’ll find the more iconic landmarks and, lastly, San Telmo, with its cobblestone streets, Sunday tourist market and immersive street tango.

An old coastal promenade within Puerto Madero, known as La Costanera Sur is a formidable choice among what to see in Buenos Aires. Functioning as a public spa until the 80s, this riverside pit has since been refilled to create the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, where all manner of flora and fauna come to thrive. At certain times of year, the 865-acre reserve fills with butterflies to compliment the river’s tranquil shores and the distant city skyline. Make sure to bring some change for a taste of chorizo-filled choripán served up by lovely local vendors who dot the area. If the sun’s rays are burning after a full morning of Buenos Aires sightseeing, take refuge from the midday heat with a guided tour around Manzana de las Luces, a network of tunnels beneath the city, mysteriously constructed by the Jesuits. Anglicised as ‘block of enlightenment’, the site is the former home of the city’s first university and currently the Buenos Aires National College.

Recoleta Cemetary | Photo: Miguel Bruna

Recoleta Cemetary | Photo: Miguel Bruna

Culture floods the streets of Buenos Aires like no other city. In the historic Italian enclave of La Boca, El Caminito is a sight to behold

Culture floods the streets of Buenos Aires like no other city. In the historic Italian enclave of La Boca, El Caminito is a sight to behold, a colourful street museum featuring brightly painted walkways that outline the history of Argentina’s early Italian immigrants. What started in the 1950s as a collaboration between the local community and artist Benito Quinquela has now become one of the must-see Buenos Aires points of interest, showcasing the wonderful works of various local artists. Where colour seeps out, culture remains, particularly in the city’s Recoleta Cemetery with its maze of unique 20th-century tombs and a collection of over 6,400 hand-carved statues. The miniature stylings of each raised tomb in its tiny stone house or church replica is definitely a wonder, so too is the rumour that the site is haunted.

Our Buenos Aires travel guide would not be complete without a nod of respect to its architecture. The Palacio Barolo is one of our favourite examples, a mammoth-sized structure located in the city centre, built in 1923 by an Italian immigrant as a homage to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Accessible by guided tour only, visitors can explore the 100-meter heights of this classy establishment before reaching the rooftop and enjoying panoramic views that stretch all the way to Uruguay.

Photo: Lautaro Andreani

Photo: Lautaro Andreani

Caminito | Photo: Brigitte Werner

Caminito | Photo: Brigitte Werner

For a modern take on classic Argentine cuisine, visit Chila, as it has been named one of the best restaurants in Latin America

Where to eat in Buenos Aires

L’Orangerie at the Alvear Palace is hands down the best French cuisine in the city, and if you don’t get the tasting menu with expert wine pairings, you are doing yourself a disservice. The restaurant has been modernised with a more approachable atmosphere but still has that classic fine dining service at a fraction of the price. While we are on the topic of hotel restaurants, for the best cut of beef in the city, try Elena at the Four Seasons and afterwards cap it off with cocktails at their lounge, Pony Line. Buenos Aires is known for its meats and experience at Le Grill is one that should not be missed. From the moment you walk in and see the sizzling grill, you know you are in the right place.

When you need a break from meat, try La Locanda for an authentic Italian meal. For a modern take on classic Argentine cuisine, visit Chila, as it has been named one of the best restaurants in Latin America. For a quirky night out with friends, try Peugeot Lounge, a bar and bistro with a casual and fun atmosphere – there’s also a private dining room upstairs for a more intimate gathering. And before you leave the city, the Argentine Experience is something that can’t be overlooked. Here you will get to interact a bit with other diners and learn about Argentine culture, food and drinks, all while eating and drinking. It’s hands-on and requires a bit of participation so if you are shy at all, drink an extra few glasses of Malbec.

Las Cabras | Photo: Jurriaan Teulings

Las Cabras | Photo: Jurriaan Teulings

Shopping in Buenos Aires

Flaunting style and effortless flair on every corner, Buenos Aires is an understandably great place to shop. For menswear options, El Burgués is a classic choice, with its modern collection of timeless tailoring, including slim shirts, unstructured jackets and weekender holdalls, made from rich textures and fine fabrics. To ensure your new purchases match your kicks, a trip to shoemaker Calzados Correa is a must. This infamous, Almagro-based shop has been meticulously crafting leather shoes since 1955 when Felix A. Correa began trading from his house. Maintaining an excellent reputation throughout the years, this family-run cobbler, with its own pet capybara, can create any custom style, just for you, in whatever colour and material that suits. Add the final olfactory touches to your new outfit at Fueguia 1833, a boutique perfumery whose upscale influence has spread globally, across New York, Milan, Moscow and Tokyo. Despite its hefty price-tags starting upwards of $700, this Recoleta-based flagship store is any window-shopper’s heaven, featuring luxury scents inspired by the Argentine countryside.

Photo: Sasha Stories

Photo: Sasha Stories

Not your average book store, El Ateneo Grand Splendid remains an institution in Buenos Aires, unafraid of the tech revolution. Whereas elsewhere bookstores are disappearing, in Buenos Aires they continue to proliferate. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, in particular, is unique for its early 20th-century theatre setting, where Argentina’s tango legends once performed. With the original architecture, grand frescoed ceilings and ornate edgings, it’s the mezzanine that differs; featuring bookcases in place of seat rows. In the balconies and boxes meanwhile, comfy reading chairs and warm lighting allow you to skim-read in style. If you get thirsty, push aside the velvet curtains and head to the stage where the café now lies. Unique to Argentina, and reeking with artisan panache is concept store Facon Casa + Vino, selling everything from pottery to rugs to leather accessories, all made by local artists and independent industrial designers. If the sustainable ethos and promotion of rural communities weren’t charitable enough, there is also a small wine shop in the back for tastings of the country’s best labels!

Scaling up a little is the Galería Patio del Liceo, a shopping courtyard hosting dozens of fancy boutiques, galleries and workshops for designers, artists and musicians. Located on the bustling Santa Fe Avenue, this multi-level bohemian oasis remains hidden from the streets inside a quiet courtyard. As well as peering into the working studios of various up-and-coming designers, our favourite indie offerings to drop by including Tienda Raíz for sustainable jewellery and accessories and Monoblock for fun lifestyle products you never knew you needed. For the best of the old world, on Sunday make your way to Feria de San Telmo in Plaza Dorrego, where you’ll find a flea market heralded as one of the best antique markets in the world. Hosting 250 booths and pop-up stands, visitors can pick up literally anything here for a song; from mid-century furniture and vintage Louis Vuitton to first edition books and limited edition records.

Photo: Lautaro Andreani

Photo: Lautaro Andreani

To find a happening gay bar in Buenos Aires all you need to do is ask a local early in the evening or simply follow the crowds

Nightlife in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires doesn’t mess around when it comes to going out, but, in cool Latino style, don’t expect anyone at the clubs before midnight, and even then, you’ll find that the crowds peak closer to 2am. While there are a number of clubs offering dubious all-you-can-drink experiences offering ready poured cheap vodka and mixers, if your student days are far behind you, rest assured that Buenos Aires can also keep you amused in sophisticated surroundings. To find a happening gay bar in Buenos Aires all you need to do is ask a local early in the evening or simply follow the crowds as they hop between the best ones. For a more dependable Buenos Aires gay nightlife guide, ask the community at Casa Brandon, a collective of people who organize cultural activities across the city such as art exhibitions, park gatherings, concerts and more. Their gay parties and events, in particular, are ones not be missed!

For your fill of expertly mixed, literary cocktails and vintage décor, the Verne Club can help you out. Walk through its doors to be transported to a 1920s prohibition-era jazz club, complete with Chesterfield leather sofas, exposed brick walls adorned with Victorian paraphernalia and a huge bar area serving up drinks named after the adventure classics of Jules Verne. Despite also providing your favourite cocktails, the Parque Bar Botánico couldn’t be more different. A breath of fresh air, the décor here is light and open, mixing natural wood furnishings with a whole heap of greenery. From its vertical garden walls and live trees to its exotic foliage winding its way behind the bar, a visit here will get you tipsy as well as at one with nature.

Verne Club

Verne Club

With wine production in the nation a flourishing business, it’s not hard to find a decent wine bar. Regardless, the Vino Wine Bar is worthy of a mention for its self-service system, allowing you to walk the menu and quiz the talented sommelier before inserting your card into a machine and pouring yourself a degustación (35ml), media copa (75ml), or copa (150ml) sized beverage.

After swilling one too many wines on your palate, you’ll allow our Buenos Aires gay nightlife guide to get a bit wilder. The ever friendly Flux Bar is a bright spot in the area, packed with popping colours, lip-smacking cocktails and an open-minded crowd. With a packed daily roster of events, spanning music and art exhibitions, this is a cultural institution with a socialite’s passion for partying. Then there’s Glam, arguably one of the hottest gay nights out in Buenos Aires. Popular among a sexy, young crowd of partygoers, largely in their 20s and 30s, this Recoleta-based club is spread across two rooms – one for electronic music, one for latino pop – featuring go-go dancers and live shows from Thursday to Monday until sunrise.

Verne Club

Verne Club

Verne Club

Verne Club

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