Buenos Aires Travel Guide

Buenos Aires Travel Guide

David Durán

Amor. Plain and simple, that’s Argentina’s new marketing initiative towards LGBTQ travellers and tourism. In short, it easily sums up what the country is all about, especially the city of Buenos Aires, which has consistently been referred to as the most welcoming city to gay travellers in South America. Buenos Aires has always been at the forefront of change and acceptance; a quick Google search of their yearly pride celebrations will quickly prove that, as it is one of the largest and most festive celebrations in the region, if not the world. There’s a lot to see and do in the city, and if you only go for the empanadas alone, you will have already won at life, as they are irresistibly good, and determining your favourite empanada spot will be a challenge worth accepting. The city has other delicious food, upscale luxury hotels and an abundance of things to do. Plus, there’s tango!

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 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.

Faena Hotel

Faena Hotel

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 Alvear Icon will open in 2017 and will be a combo of hotel and residences, and from the renderings, will be incredible. 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.

Fierro Hotel

Fierro Hotel

Where to eat in Buenos Aires

La Bourgogne 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 an 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

Buenos Aires doesn’t mess around when it comes to going out and don’t expect anyone at the clubs before midnight, and really, the crowd only picks up closer to 2 am. There are a lot of gay bars one can go to, and the best way to find the one to be at is simply by asking locals or jumping online, as the crowds are typically flocking from one to the other. Some of these clubs offer all you can drink shit show experiences where you will find bars full of cheap vodka and mixers already poured, ready for anyone to grab. By the end of the night, your clothes will be ruined and mud-stained, but to each their own. For something a bit less adolescent, the city’s best clubs have gay parties and gay nights where the entertainment is usually pretty impressive, and the crowds are a better representation of diversity. NicetoClub in Palermo hosts Club 69 and this theatrical night is unreal and a must for anyone visiting the city. Buenos Aires has gay parties for most everyone, from the non-invasive to the very specific.

Buenos Aires neighbourhoods

The city is broken up into very distinct neighbourhoods, and all are worth at least a walk though. Belgrano is more of a commercial hub, home to spectacular dwellings. La Boca is all about artists and immigrants while Palermo is also artsy but has been gentrified, giving it a good mix of local artists with upscale boutiques and restaurants. Puerto Madero is a former port of entry to the city, which is now the hot spot to live, work and play. For some history, explore Montserrat as well as Recoleta, which is also home to aristocrats and most of the well-known lux hotels mentioned above. San Nicolas is more in the heart of the city and here is where you will find the more iconic landmarks and lastly, San Telmo, another historic district with cobblestone streets, a Sunday market made for tourists but still worth visiting, and well, tango being danced on the streets.

Isla el Descanso Tigre | Photo: Jurriaan Teulings

Isla el Descanso Tigre | Photo: Jurriaan Teulings

Things to do in Buenos Aires

Listen, we all have seen those tourist buses in every major city of the world, and although they may be slightly offensive at first sight, some people enjoy acclimating to a place by hopping on and off of these types of tours. The Buenos Aires Bus is an option for those who enjoy that sort of thing. If you prefer to see the city differently and aren’t afraid to brave the mean streets of the city by bike, Biking Buenos Aires 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.

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