B&B and Beyond: Querido B&B, Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires
The Villa Crespo district is on the up, with new delis, boutiques and this characterful B&B, says Sorrel Moseley-Williams
Saturday 27 April 2013
Amid a mélange of cobblers, Jewish delis and fashion outlets, the bright and breezy townhouse that harbours Querido B&B is a symbol of leisurely gentrification in Buenos Aires's Villa Crespo neighbourhood. A stone's throw from hip yet over-subscribed Palermo Soho, Villa Crespo retains a quirky personality and for now, it's still largely residential. Recently, it has seen an influx of discount outlets flogging cut-price clothing. Shiny signs now jostle for attention with vegetarian restaurants and corner cafés. The place to rest your head in Villa Crespo is Querido, a new-build on a cobbled street that sports rescued features from the early 20th-century townhouse it replaced, and is one of a handful of B&Bs in the Argentine capital.
Although Querido is purpose-built, there's still a sense of place. Salvaged features include the 1920s cedar front-door, while the living room sports the original floorboards.
Each of the seven double rooms – located on the first and second floors – has been designed by the owners and has a hip-yet-homely personality. Combining bedside tables snapped up at the Mercado de Pulgas (flea market) as well as personal trinkets, the look is eclectic. The bedding is top-of-the-line Egyptian cotton, the mattresses are supremely comfortable and there's free Wi-Fi throughout. Fluffy towels and a walk-in shower are the norm in the en-suite bathrooms.
Any intention of devouring an enormous steak at lunchtime will be vanquished by Querido's substantial Argentine breakfast. It's served in the contemporary kitchen overlooking the patio. Brazilian coffee permeates the air while amiable staff serve up sugary pastries, cold cuts, ham and cheese croissants, granola, fruit salad, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Querido – which means "dear" in Spanish – is the project of Surrey-born Alastair Mason and his Brazilian wife, Mariana Pereira, who met in Buenos Aires several years ago. Respectively taking time off from a career in PR and undertaking a postgraduate course, these two brought Querido to life over a two-year period, opening in May 2010. After several years in the barrio, their local knowledge is impressive and the Anglo-Brazilian couple happily impart their wisdom in three languages.
By day, Villa Crespo fills up with bargain hunters looking for last season's polo shirts at Etiqueta Negra (Gurruchaga 770; 00 54 11 4772 7146; etiquetanegra.us) or leather accessories at Cardón (Loyola 752; 00 54 11 4772 7146; cardon.com.ar). On Calle Murillo, tourists come to track down cowhide in all its forms.
When your credit card begs for a break, refuel at Jewish deli La Crespo (Thames 612; 00 54 11 4856 9770; lacrespo.com) with a New York-style bagel loaded with smoked salmon. Or try homemade pasta at vegetarian haunt Almacén Purista (Juan Ramirez de Velazco 701; 00 54 11 4779 2210; almacenpurista.com).
Night owls flock to watering-holes such as tapas bar La Esperanza de los Ascurra (Aguirre 526; 00 54 11 2058 8313; esperanzaascurra.com.ar), speakeasy 878 (Thames 878; 00 54 11 4773 1098; 878bar.com.ar) or La Cava Jufré (Jufré 201; 00 54 11 4775 7501; lacavajufre.com.ar) to sample a juicy Malbec.
For more action, cross Avenida Córdoba to unearth Palermo Soho, a neighbourhood rammed with boutiques, cafés and bars open beyond the crack of dawn. For the classic steak, Don Julio (Guatemala 4699; 00 54 11 4832 6058) will grill the ojo de bife of your dreams, while drinking spots include Moroccan-style Rey de Copas (Gorriti 5176; 00 54 11 2068 5220; facebook.com/reydecopasbar) and model magnet Isabel (Uriarte 1664; 00 54 11 4834 6969; isabel.bz). Palermo also houses La Rural exhibition centre, host of the arteBA contemporary art exhibition from 24 to 27 May (arteba.org) and Feria del Libro book fair, which runs until 13 May (el-libro.org.ar).
One new restaurant to create a buzz is I Latina (00 54 11 4857 9095; ilatinabuenosaires.com). A puerta cerrada or closed-door eatery owned by brothers Santiago and Camilo Macías. The six-course Colombian-Caribbean fixed menu changes each month, costing 490 pesos (£62) with wine pairings and 360 pesos (£46) without. Chef Santiago's innovations include deconstructed salmon tartare, ocean-fresh ceviche or coffee-infused, slow-braised lamb. Reservations only.
Querido B&B, Juan Ramirez de Velazco 934, Buenos Aires, Argentina (00 54 11 4854 6297; queridobuenosaires.com). Doubles start at US$115 (£77), including breakfast.
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