The Cool Guide: Buenos Aires, Argentina

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The Independent Travel

WHY BUENOS AIRES?

WHY BUENOS AIRES?

Buenos Aires, like the rest of Argentina, has had its up and downs in recent years. But, the city is slowly emerging from the doldrums. Suffused with a European flavour, but with a distinctly Latin feel, it offers sophistication and grit in equal measure. With a happening fashion and art scene, it has all the ingredients of a happening city. Get there on British Airways from Heathrow via Sao Paulo in Brazil or on Aerolineas Argentinas from Gatwick via Madrid.

EAT

Don't even think of eating out before 10.30pm. Buenos Aires is big on steak - probably the best you will ever taste - but there are other spots that offer alternatives. O Bistro Argentino, which opened earlier this year in Palermo Viejo, is a sleek contemporary space with delicious food. Central, a bar and restaurant with a mainly white interior, draws a cool crowd. La Despensa Bistro, another trendy spot, can be found in the 'chi-chi' Recoleta district.

DRINK

On a summer night the softly-lit garden courtyard of Million is the best place to be. But phone beforehand if you are to be guaranteed a table outside.

Alternatively, head to one of the street-side bars of Las Canistas.

SLEEP

The hotly anticipated Faena Hotel + Universe, is scheduled to open its door in December in the historic El Porteno building downtown. Cheaper but no less fashionable is 1555 Malabia House, the designer B&B housed in one of the 'casa chorizos', or Art Nouveau sausage houses.

SEE

The city's most iconic structure is the 221ft Obelisk that stands in the middle of the, multi-lane Avenida de Mayo - reputed to be the widest in the world. The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires houses contemporary art from all over Latin America.

BUY

Palermo Viejo is Buenos Aires's answer to New York's Soho - its cobbled streets are lined with oneoff boutiques and interior design shops. Arte Etnico Argentino sells textiles made in tribal villages, while Rhapsodia is the young thing's clothing label of choice. San Telmo's Sunday antique market may draw crowds but don't be put off.

PLAY

Going out can turn into an all-night marathon - most clubs don't get going until 2am. KIKA in Palermo Viejo is one of the noctural hot-spots. The international polo glitterati, much younger and better looking in Argentina, descend on Tequila every Wednesday in November and December, but not until after 1am.

Travel facts

Faena Hotel & Universe

(00 54 11 4010 9000; www.faenahotelanduniverse.com)

Martha Salotti

445, Puerto Madero Este1555

Malabia House

Malabia 1555 (00 54 11 4831 2102; www.malabiahouse.com.ar)

British Airways

(0870 850 9850, www.ba.com)

Aerolineas Argentinas

(020-7290 7887; www.aerolineas.com)

O Bistro Argentino

Thames 1626, Palermo Viejo (00 54 11 4833 6991)

La Depensa

Av. Quintana 210, Recoleta (00 54 11 4812 0080)

Central

Costa Rica 5644 (00 54 11 4776 7374)

Arte Etnico Argentino

El Salvador 4600 Palermo Viejo (00 54 11 4833 6661; www.arteetnicoargentino.com)

The Museo de Arte Latin Americano

Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415 (00 54 11 4808 6500; www.malba.org.ar)

Million

Parana 1048, (00 54 11 4815 9925)

Saberadonderir

(00 54 51 4777 9690; www.saberadonderir.com.ar)

KIKA

Honduras 5339, Palermo Hollywood (00 54 11 4831 1081; www.kikaclub.com.ar)

Tequila,

Av. Costanera Norte and La Pampa (00 54 11 4781 6555)

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