Where to stay in Buenos Aires
Microcentro and the city centre
The political and historical heart of Buenos Aires, Microcentro comes alive during the week thanks to thousands of office workers on the nine-to-five beat; come evenings and weekends, the buzz dies down. Plaza de Mayo square is the ideal starting point, its four streets lined with key sights such as Casa Rosada (home to Argentina’s president), the Metropolitan Cathedral – Pope Francis’s former parish and the Cabildo (Town Hall).
It’s also home to cheesy Calle Florida, packed with hawkers and informal money exchange touts. There are still a couple of gems to be found here – the time warp bar notable Florida Garden, the Galerías Pacifico shopping mall with its ceiling frescoes and the Centro Cultural Borges are all worth a look.
Where to stay
For luxury living: NH Collection Buenos Aires Centro Histórico. A stone’s throw from Plaza de Mayo, rooms are well-appointed; splash out on a presidential suite for ceiling-to-floor Microcentro views or make a splash in the rooftop swimming pool.
For budget stays: Milhouse. This three-storey townhouse with a homely vibe ticks all the boxes for backpackers. Friendly staff keep guests entertained with an array of activities, from tango classes to football matches.
Plaza Mayo in Buenos Aires © scrollah/Shutterstock
The barrio of choice for Argentina’s wealthy upper class (both living and resting in peace), Recoleta is best known for its architecturally magnificent cemetery crammed with lavish mausoleums (including Eva Perón’s relatively modest final quarters), posh Avenida Alvear lined with swanky boutiques and the city’s most expensive properties and the colonial-style Basílica Nuestra Señora del Pilar church.
It’s not all about splashing the cash, however. Stop by the recently renovated Centro Cultural de Recoleta for a culture fix or the Bellas Artes Museum for Argentina’s best fine arts collection.
Where to stay
For luxury living: Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. Big budgets should book a suite in the stunning early 20th-century palace but you can still enjoy VIP treatment staying at the extremely comfortable new-build block on the the other side of the lush garden.
For budget stays: Voyage. Enjoy old-world vibes at this small hostel that houses five private rooms and eight dorms across an century-old mansion.
The famous Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires © Peter Zaharov/Shutterstock
Leading from Plaza de Mayo is Avenida de Mayo a tree-lined boulevard packed with architectural gems that leads you to Argentina’s political heart, Congreso. As you wander north, landmarks include the Casa de la Cultura, which offers free tours, Café Tortoni (prepare to queue for coffee and churros) as well as the Museo Mundial de Tango and the marvellous, eclectic, Palacio Barolo (book a private tour to see inside). The avenue ends at Plaza del Congreso, dominated by the Greco-Roman style Congreso Nacional (and possibly get caught up in a demonstration, a feature of life in BA).
Where to stay
For faded grandeur: Castelar. Spanish poet Federico García Lorca stayed at this pleasant, old-fashioned hotel located on a prime piece of Avenida de Mayo real estate. Rooms sport large and comfy beds, and there’s also a sauna and spa.
For budget stays: Bauen. This time-warp hotel was the bee’s knees in its heyday, until management closed it down in 2002. Employees, however, were having none of it and took it back over as a worker-led co-operative. Rooms are a misfitting array of styles, but the location and the price are top-notch.
The Congreso Nacional in Buenos Aires © sharptoyou/Shutterstock
Buenos Aires’ bohemian heart is firmly ensconced in San Telmo where faded grandeur and crumbling façades meet cobbled lanes and street art; it’s a joy for art lovers and architecture fans hunting down Instagrammable images such as Casa Mínima, the narrowest house in the city, former tobacco factory turned modern art museum (MAMBA) and spontaneous tango dancers hot footing it around Plaza Dorrego.
Stop by indoor market Mercado de San Telmo for a weird and wonderful mix of hip dining spots, butchers and antiques sellers during the week; on Sundays, Plaza Dorrego makes way for dozens of antiques stands, Calle Defensa fanning out from this focal point to be taken over by artisans in both directions. If you’re wondering where to stay in Buenos Aires and you have a creative bent, San Telmo is your place.
Where to stay
For tango aficionados: Mansión Dandi. To live, eat, breathe, learn and sleep Argentina’s most renowned musical genre, book into this rambling mansion and prepare for late-night milongas.
For hotel-meets-hostel: Circus Hostel. With the friendliness and ambience of the former but the comforts of the latter (including en-suite bathrooms and a decked swimming-pool), Circus is in the thick of the barrio.
Lezama park in the San Telmo district, Buenos Aires © Nessa Gnatoush/Shutterstock
Buenos Aires’ dining and nightlife hub, Palermo is also its largest barrio, divided up into unofficial areas such as Hollywood, Soho and Botánico. It’s also the greenest, home to Parque Tres de Febrero, Japanese Gardens, Carlos Thays Botanical Gardens and Plaza Alemania.
Shopaholics adores Soho’s cute boutiques and weekend street markets at Plazoleta Cortazar and Plaza Armenia, while those after a bite to eat – followed up by bar or pub crawling then sweating it all off in a nightclub – go out in Hollywood.
Where to stay
For a stylish stay: Home. This masterpiece of modern architecture and hotel design is so carefully thought out, from the outdoor pool area to the breakfast room, there really is no place like it.
For a B&B-style hotel: Posada Palermo. Away, but not far, from the bustle of Soho, this townhouse offers smart rooms around a courtyard and a delicious breakfast.
Home hotel Buenos Aires Room Suite living room © Home Hotel
Abandoned for decades, Buenos Aires’s docklands – where converted red-brick warehouses and high rise apartment blocks converge – were regenerated in the 1990s, offering up an unexpectedly shiny side to the city. Traverse the trails and grasslands at the Reserva Ecológica nature reserve, step aboard the two museum ships ARA Presidente Sarmiento and ARA Uruguay, or check out exhibits at the Faena Arts Center and Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat.
For contemporary luxury: Faena. Top designer Philippe Starck overhauled this former grain warehouse to create a hospitality wonderland favoured by rocks stars: it features a hammam, a restaurant decorated with unicorn heads and, of course, extremely plush rooms.
For better-than-budget: Hotel Madero. Cool design and light spacious rooms, some with outdoor hot tubs, make this a fantastic – and well-priced – option in the barrio.
A room with a view at Faena hotel, Buenos Aires © Faena Hotel