No matter where they’re located, destination cities seem to fall squarely into two camps. First up: those renown for a wide range of things to see and do, offering a dependable mix of old and new – Paris, being a fine example. The City of Lights might be most famous for its iconic landmarks (like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre), but also an ever-pulsing culinary and retail scene the rest of the world is always trying to keep tabs on.
Then, there are metropolises more often liked to their past. Though Buenos Aires has staunchly remained a top urban destination for decades, the recommendations for visitors typically follow the same playbook: hit up Don Julio for entraña (skirt steak) and Malbec. Stroll around the popular neighborhoods of Recoleta and Palermo Soho. Grab fugaza (local-style pizza) at El Güerrin. See tango.
But in recent years, Buenos Aires has experienced an uptick of design-focused hotels, restaurants, and boutiques envisioned by creatives who aren’t afraid to shake off the city’s dogged reputation. Here, ten reasons why there’s never been a better time to book a trip to Buenos Aires than now.
Where to Stay
Selina Palermo Soho
Tucked away on a quiet strip in one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods is the newly-opened Selina Palermo Soho. A unique hybrid of a hostel and hotel, the brand concept is all about fostering an affordable, casual, yet thoroughly comfortable stay. But whether you decide to bunk with other travelers or go solo in a room, the best part of making Selina your home base is The Playground, a multi-use, communal space intended for eating – start your day here as the locals do with yerba mate and ham and cheese medialunas – working, and simply kicking back.
It may not be new, but Faena Hotel is arguably the one that set the city’s contemporary creative transformation in motion. Occupying a former silo in Puerto Madero, the over-the-top aesthetic – a joint collaboration between hotelier Alan Faena and designer Philippe Starck – dazzles with a provocative palette of red, white, and gold, and eye-catching accents (like velvet drapes, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, and white leather chairs). Even the spa stands out with its hammam, and Bistro Sur, remains one of the buzziest restaurants in town.
Where to Eat and Drink
From lauded chef Fernando Trocca of Buenos Aires mainstay Sucre and Uruguay’s Mostrador Santa Teresita comes Orilla in Belgrano. Opened earlier this year, this is not your typical parrilla. Instead, the focal point is the open kitchen – from where the dry-aged chops are dramatically fired on the Josper grill – that’s surrounded by crisp and colorful dining areas. And while pairing beef with Malbec may be the norm, don’t pass up on one of celebrated bartender Inés De Los Santos’ house libations.
Thanks to the cherry red lights and Asian trinkets galore, Niño Gordo is frequently billed as the most Instagrammable spot in town. Thankfully, the food and drinks are no slouch, either. The menu is an eclectic mishmash of Asian and local flavors, as evidenced by the pancetta okonomiyaki and Chinese-style glazed pork belly over mashed potatoes. Fittingly, the drinks (try the tequila and sriracha-infused bloody mary) are just as creative.
Tanta Argentina by Gastón Acurio
Widely regarded as the culinary ambassador of Peru, Gastón Acurio made a splash in Buenos Aires with the opening of La Mar, his signature cebicheria, in 2015. While it remains a hot spot, his follow up restaurant, Tanta Argentina, is just as enticing. But instead of raw seafood, the kitchen turns out simple fare (think salads, sandwiches, and pastas) with Peruvian flair in a sleek, wood-paneled room anchored by a striking, glass-encased garden. And don’t miss the dreamy desserts by Astrid Gutsche, Acurio’s wife and business partner.
There’s no bigger food trend in Buenos Aires right now than gourmet burgers. As for where to find the city’s best? The answer is Pony Line, a handsome, equestrian-themed bar located on the ground floor of the Four Seasons Buenos Aires. As for what to get? Naturally, the signature burger, a thick beef patty capped with melty cheese, bacon, and house made barbecue sauce – all tucked between a squishy bun, and paired with thick cut fries.
Oh No! Lulu
Portenos are fully embracing aloha spirit at the city’s first tiki bar in Villa Crespo. Decked out in wicker pendants, rattan chairs, and warm red lighting, Oh No! Lulu keeps it casual with its ordering system – pay at the register, and you’ll be given a number – and indulgent, throwback menu. Your best best is to order a traditional pupu platter (assorted fried bites and grilled proteins), and wash it all down with a classic mai tai or zombie.
Where to Shop
This unique retail concept – imagine a chic lifestyle boutique, wine shop, and cooking school rolled into one – owned by Martín Bustamante celebrates all things Argentine. Bustamante thoughtfully curates beautiful and sustainably-made items from more remote regions of the country, to support artisans most tourists wouldn’t have access to.
Belgian-Argentinian designer Juan Hernández Daels has impressive credentials – he was schooled at Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts and London’s Central St Martins – and a sleek, architectural aesthetic to match. Though he now calls the City of Lights home, you can snap up his timeless pieces at his flagship store, which opened in 2015
Anushka Elliot Boutique
Born in Venezuela and raised in Argentina, Anushka Elliot founded her namesake brand in 2014. Elliot’s collections are unapologetically feminine and breezy, and draw inspiration from her frequent travels. In addition to ready-to-wear, Elliot also has a bridal atelier on the second floor of her boutique.