The Hedonist: Buenos Aires
It's always party time in this city, writes Chris Canty from Hg2 luxury city guides
Saturday 26 June 2010
As the taxi screeches past a sea of short-sleeved blue business shirts and cream trousers, I'm thinking it's presumptuous that the ultra-stylish and somewhat outrageous Faena Hotel (00 54 11 4010 9000;
faenahotelanduniverse.com ) would add the words "and universe" in its title. Yet as I enter this former red brick storehouse and find myself flanked instantly by beautiful staff, I conclude that what designer Philippe Starck has done is, indeed, out of this world.
My room is full of rich velvet and cherry wood, I have a glass-walled bathroom, I have a river view, and my own "personal experience manager" is eager to be summoned.
I grab a quick bite in the hotel's El Bistro restaurant; the white plastic unicorn heads that line the wall keep me company. Afterwards I relax in what many regard as the city's most exclusive spa centre, before moving to the pool deck, which is lined with people more worthy of a catwalk.
First stop: Dolfina (00 54 11 4815 2698; ladolfina.com ), where I buy a dapper jacket from the clothing line created by Adolfo Cambiasso, the David Beckham of the polo world. Then, a mid-afternoon stroll through the city centre brings me to Cervelar (00 54 11 4311 2992; cervelar.com.ar ).
Argentina has started to brew some word-class beers, and at Cervelar the locals are catching on. The shop is unassuming, but inside there's the sound of glasses clinking. I spend the afternoon propped at the bar, sipping with Paul the owner, acknowledging that his job (he scours the country looking for the best beer) is almost as good as mine. Feeling tipsy, and with my stomach rumbling, I take a taxi to the San Telmo district. San Telmo's recent rejuvenation as BA's newest culinary hotspot has been led by La Vineria De Gualterio Bolivar (00 54 11 4361 4709; lavineriadegualteriobolivar.com ).
I had booked a week before, aware that this old house, minimalist in design, has only a few tables. The menu has touches of molecular gastronomy, derived from chef Alejandro Digilio's time at El Bulli in Catalonia. I order the nine-course degustation menu, which is the talk of BA's dinner party elite. The rabbit with bitter cocoa sauce proves sublime.
For sheer old-world opulence, nothing in South America can hold a candle to the Recoleta district. As the taxi arrives outside a 20th-century French mansion, I can tell why Milión (00 54 11 4815 9925; milionargentina.com.ar ) is regarded as the most seductive bar in town. Inside, everybody is dressed to be seen. I meet some friends and it all feels like some fancy house party. At 1am we retire to the garden, and more cocktails are enjoyed in the warm night air.
Aware that clubs don't get pumping until around 4am in Buenos Aires, we decide to see a band at Plasma (00 54 11 4307 9171; sitioplasma.com.ar ), BA's best live music venue. Located in Barracas, this recording studio comes alive with music acts most nights of the week; tonight the theme seems to be Japanese punk. Enthralling sounds come from a tiny, angry woman on an even tinier stage.
Ears ringing, we head to Rumi (00 54 11 4782 1307; rumiba.com.ar ) where if you're not rich or beautiful you might find it hard to fit in, though a foreign accent can help at the door. I dodge past a few football players with their enhanced girlfriends and head straight for the dance floor with its red strobe lights and feature dancers strutting on platforms. The next few hours are a blur of expensive rum and dance moves.
I'm tired but the locals have no concept of bedtime: once dawn has come and gone we head to Caix (00 54 11 4805 6069; caix-ba.com.ar ). This after-after-after hours club is packed with those still buzzing from the night before. I'm exhausted by 10.30am. As I leave, I notice that the place seems to be getting busier.
A Hedonist’s Guide To... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see www.hg2.com
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