Buenos Aires boutique hotel offers custom-made experience
Buenos Aires has long held the cultural crown among its Latin American neighbours, being synonymous with a dedication to the arts, where bookworms do the tango and cabbies listen to poetry deep into the night.
While recent economics don't seem to add up, Argentinians are the masters of enjoying the finer things in life - queues still snake out of restaurants into the early hours, hidden cocktail bars abound and the city breeds boutique hotels. So how does the latest addition stand out from the crowd?
Hub Porteno gets off to a good start. A private mansion turned boutique hotel that encapsulates the golden age, it takes the guest's experience beyond the hotel, offering intimate access to the city's cultural credentials.
Armed with one of the best black books in town, its chief executive Gonzalo Robredo works alongside a team of Ivy League university professors and liberal arts experts to craft itineraries tailored to each client's preference. Even before your arrival, one of the hotel's experience designers gets in touch to discuss your interests.
Suggested topics stick close to the principal passions of Argentina's culture, but if Jorge Luis Borges bores you, the team will plan you an escape into the city's culinary underbelly - from spaghetti in Italian immigrant joints to flank steak in gourmet spots. Included are a personal chauffeur, dining in the city's top restaurants and a debrief over an evening aperitif in the cosy Living Room.
With just 11 suites, Hub Porteno is your private pied-à-terre. At the hotel, there is no indication, save for the elaborate marble door and art deco street lamps, that it is anything other than another chic apartment block in the well-heeled Recoleta neighbourhood.
A large part of its draw is this intimacy - there is no reception (although a small team of expert staff appear out of thin air whenever you need them) and additional amenities are already included in the price. Each room has been individually decorated with Argentine design pieces and antiques from local auction houses, and the bathrooms, with giant bathtubs, cut-glass mirrors and chandeliers, are big enough to bring the whole bar back to.
Hub Porteno's design is Argentinian down to the final thread, with interiors handcrafted from the last generation of European artisans behind Buenos Aires' belle époque architecture. Hand-cured leather wall panels in the living room combine with skunk-skin alcoves in the library bar, so while lovers of high-quality luxury will not be disappointed, vegetarians may need to grow a thicker skin.
Although the hotel opened only last month, in-house gourmet gem Tarquino has been a favourite with the local folk for months. Tucked away past its marble walls and reclaimed wooden doors, tables are spread under the branches of a 70-year-old fig tree that pokes through the glass roof. Using techniques inherited from Ferran Adria at El Bulli, chef Dante Liporace recreates Argentinian classics with an innovative twist, such as baby goat with olive gnocchi.
While the hotel lacks a swimming pool for the sweltering summer, the rooftop oasis comes complete with an outdoor shower and Missoni-esque loungers. Come sunset, the terrace transforms into a cocktail bar and hosts parties and private art exhibitions where guests' names are always on the list. Just one of the many perks of staying at the chicest spot in Buenos Aires.