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Argentina

Argentina, Blog, Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires: Where to find good coffee.

January 11, 2016

In a country where coffee is not the drink of choice (it’s all about Mate – a traditional tea), Buenos Aires has done well on the cafe front.  A lot of places are now actually serving really good coffee, and Argentines are starting to take their ‘coffee culture’ more seriously.  Palermo stays on the forefront of the cool cafes, but Recoleta and Barrio Central are not far behind.

These were my favourites:

  • Hub Porteno, Recoleta

    I know it’s a hotel, but I had my best coffee here in Buenos Aires, for breakfast.  Their restaurant Tarquino, which is meant to be really good, is open to the public.  So grab your chance and have lunch here, and finish off with one of their excellent coffees.  It helps that the china is oh so pretty.

Hub POrteno, Buenos Aires

  • Delicious Cafe, Recoleta.

    Simple, local, friendly.  There’s nothing fancy about this Recoleta favourite, where an expat told me that they served the best coffee in town.  Their Illy coffee was good, and their media lunes (‘half moons’ – similar to croissants) were brilliant too.  It’s super affordable and a good place to start the day if you’ve got limited time.

Delicious Cafe, BUenos Aires

  • Birkin.

    Palermo Botanico’s trendy hangout, which serves a delightful Flat White, even though they need to work on their service.  Brunch is meant to be good here too.

Birkin, Buenos Aires

  • Negro, Centro.

    With a coffee machine called ‘Aurelia’, it was hard not to like this place.  It has a very local vibe, with people coming in for casual business meetings, others grabbing a coffee and a sandwich on the go during their lunch break, friends enjoying an espresso and a pastry.  Service was good here for once, and they also do some great fresh mint and ginger lemonades.

Negro, Buenos Aires

  • Barrio Cafetero, Centro.

    This place is so tiny, and if you didn’t know about it, you’d completely miss it.  It’s not in the most touristy of areas, but those who value their coffee will be glad they found it.  The range of coffee on offer is wonderful, and the barista was very friendly and helpful.  Worth the de-tour and ideal for a take away.

Bario Cafetero, Buenos Aires

  • Natural Deli, Palermo.

    Buenos Aires is yet to fully catch on to the whole health craze which is taking Western Europe and America by storm, but the Natural Deli is one of those places which health junkies would appreciate.  Apart from nice interiors (don’t be put off from the outside) and a good buzz (though again, the service was lacking here), the menu has some really good options, including some lovely organic coffees.

Natural Deli. Buenos Aires

Other cafes apparently worth checking out are Felix Felices & Co and Full City Coffee House, both in Palermo (of course), and I walked past Luba Coffee Store which looked lovely too.

Argentina, Blog

Llao Llao, Bariloche – STAY

January 10, 2016
Llao Llao, Bariloche

If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect to love Llao Llao. I don’t really like big hotels, with golf courses and the like.  But from the moment I arrived, and saw the breathtaking views, was warmly greeted by the charming staff and shown to my very spacious studio, I retracted all negative feelings and completed embraced it.

Why would you come here in the first place?  Bariloche was perhaps my favourite destination in Argentina.  Known as ‘Little Switzerland’, because of the chalet style architecture, the lakes and the mountains (and not to forget the obsession with, and skill at making, chocolate).  The scenery is out of this world, and it is truly the place to come to in Argentina’s summer months. From swimming in the lakes, to kayaking, hiking, abseiling, riding, boating, condor watching – there are never ending activities to be done and in the most beautiful setting ever.

BarilocheBarilocheBariloche

Yes, Llao Llao is a large hotel, with 205 rooms. But because it’s divided into two wings – the Bustillo and the Moreno wing – it didn’t feel like there were a lot of guests.  The main old building – built in the traditional chalet style, where a lot of the rooms still have fireplaces (in my mind one of the only positives of staying in this wing rather than the Moreno), is called the Bustillo wing. Here you’ll find all the restaurants, the spa, an excellent gym and the pool which allows you to swim from inside to the (heated) outdoor pool. The views from the pool cover the lakes from either side of the hotel and are a real wow factor.

Llao Llao, BarilocheLlao Llao, Bariloche

The Moreno wing is the new wing, added on a few years ago, where you’ll hands down find the better rooms. You can expect huge windows, both in your room and bathroom, with incredible views of the Moreno Lake and mountains, contemporary interiors and lots of space.  Once you get in the bath, you won’t want to get out.

Llao Llao, BarilocheLlao Llao, BarilocheLlao Llao, Bariloche

For active people, Llao Llao is the dream. They have a full complimentary fitness class list – from yoga to pilates to hikes. You can play golf, take boat trips, go abseiling, go riding. Kids will love it here too, with a kids spa, pool and special kids club. There’s no way they’d get bored here!

Llao Llao, Bariloche

While breakfast was wonderful, with a huge range of options and again, ‘that’ view, I was a bit disappointed by the restaurants. For a hotel of this calibre you’d expect the food to be better. Instead, try other restaurants nearby which are much better, like Cassis, La Masia and Il Gabbiano.

Llao Llao, Bariloche

If you still prefer to stay in a smaller hotel, then El Casco Art Hotel is for you.  It’s slightly more in town, directly on the lake and also has great views, but is much smaller, with 33 rooms.

Llao Llao

Ezequiel Bustillo Km 25,

8401 San Carlos de Bariloche

Argentina

Argentina, Blog, Buenos Aires

Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires – DRINK

January 2, 2016

Before going to Argentina I asked a few friends who had spent a lot of time there for some tips.  I had a full schedule while in Buenos Aires (one highlight was definitely the Rojo Tango show at the fabulous Faena Hotel), but I knew I would have a few hours here and there to do some exploring.

I was sent a number of recommendations for BA, but one bar was recommended by all: Floreria Atlantico.  When I looked it up I saw it was voted 38th best bar in the world, and best bar in South America.  Curious, I went.  And loved it.

Floreria Atlantico, Buenos AiresFloreria Atlantico, BUenos Aires

If you didn’t know it was there, you’d walk straight past it.  The beauty is that it is hidden underneath a fully functioning flower shop (which is worth visiting too – absolutely stunning).  The bar contrasts hugely to the colourful shop above; its dimly lit, stark basement interiors give it an edge I love.  It is a narrow space, and the focal point is a long bar which runs the whole length of the bar, and where we grabbed two stools.  On the other side of the bar is an open kitchen, and we regretted not being able to stay for dinner, because for the food looked amazing.
Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires

I was pleased that despite my non-Latino friends recommending the bar (to be fair, they are not your standard ‘tourists’), the bar was mainly filled with locals.  I’d recommend going early (for Latino standards) because it’s a popular place and we were lucky to get a seat when we arrived at around 8ish.

Floreria Atlantico, Buenos AiresFloreria Atlantico, BUenos Aires

We enjoyed our glasses of house wine and wished we could have stayed for a cocktail, but there was more to discover of beautiful Buenos Aires…

Floreria Atlantico

Arroyo 872, Cdad.

Buenos Aires

Photo credit: Floreria Atlantico

Argentina, Blog, Buenos Aires

L’Orangerie, Buenos Aires – For the ultimate Sunday Brunch

December 27, 2015
L'Orangerie, Alvear Palace

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to brunch in Buenos Aires. Palermo Soho and Hollywood are often seen as the trendiest areas to be for brunch, though Palermo Botanico has had a sudden surge in popularity (with places like Birkin heaving on the weekend).

If you’re in Recoleta however, there’s one place you must go for the brunch of all brunches.  L’Orangerie in the five star Alvear Palace (the ‘Grand Dame’ of Buenos Aires) offers both guests and non-guest the ultimate Sunday feast.  I’ve seen quite a few buffet breakfasts in my life, but none quite as opulent and mouthwatering as the one at L’Orangerie.

L'Orangerie, Alvear Palace

After a late Saturday night out in BA – which is usually unavoidable – the buffet is a table of your dreams.  It has everything and anything you may want.  All kinds of eggs, bacon, sausages, smoked salmon.  The cappuccino will help cure the worst of hangovers, as will the constant topping up of freshly squeezed orange juice.

L'Orangerie, Alvear Palace

I am a sucker for anything sweet, so the rows of cakes, trays of pastries and delicate puddings, meant that I found myself just staring at the vast array of choice for quite some time.  They were all so beautifully presented you didn’t want to touch a thing.  But I made sure I tried a selection, which certainly did not disappoint.

L'Orangerie, Alvear Palace

The Alvear Palace itself is somewhat of an institution in Buenos Aires.  It is the iconic five star hotel, one of the original five star hotels where all the royals,presidents and celebrities used to (and some still do) stay.  While newer, and more contemporary five star hotels are cropping up in the city (Park Hyatt, Four Seasons), and while the grand and traditional style may not be to everyone’s tastes (it can be seen as a bit stuffy), I would still highly recommend it for its Sunday Brunch or Afternoon Tea.

L'Orangerie, Alvear Palace Having said that the bed I slept in was one of the most comfortable I slept in during my travels in Argentina.  And the service was impeccable.  So, if you’ve got the budget – try staying here on the Saturday night, so you can enjoy a luxurious night here as well as an unforgettable brunch the next day.

L’Orangerie

Alvear Palace

Avenue Alvear 1891

Buenos Aires

Photo credit: Alvear Palace

Argentina, Blog

Negro. Cueva de Cafe, Buenos Aires – DRINK

November 11, 2015
Negro, Buenos Aires

Argentina is not known for its coffee, and during my trip through the country I did observe that the coffee was not quite up to the European standard. But Buenos Aires is different.  Apparently especially in the past few years the cafe scene has changed quite substantially, with lots of independent, quirky cafes cropping up which – most importantly – serve good coffee.

Negro, Buenos Aires
Negro is one of them, a caffeine triumph.  Located in central Buenos Aires, close to the famous Obelisk on Plaza de la República and the charming Plaza San Martin, this is slightly away from the touristy areas and as local as it gets. The interiors are all exposed brickwork, a bustling bar, and industrial-style lighting.  Locals come in to grab a take away coffee, others come in for their lunch break or even for a business meeting, and many just have a quick espresso and a croissant and then depart.  The coffee is excellent – and their coffee machine was branded Aurelia – so I liked it instantly. It’s a place you could easily expect in Soho (London).

Negro, Buenos AiresNegro, Buenos Aires
But almost the best thing were the people. Having stopped by quite a few cafes, I had found some staff to be quite unfriendly, or indifferent. Here it was the contrary, the staff were wonderful.  Helpful, curious, patient. As a solo blogger-tourist, I felt completely at ease here.

Negro, Buenos AiresNegro, Buenos Aires

Apart from a strong shot of espresso, I opted for their ginger lemonade and it was delicious. Refreshing and not too sweet – just what I needed after a morning of walking through the streets of Buenos Aires in the sun.

If you’re hungry then try 180 Burger Bar down the road, meant to be pretty good too.

Negro

Suipacha 637

Buenos Aires

Photo Credit: Negro

Argentina, Blog

Hub Porteno, Buenos Aires – STAY

November 10, 2015
Hub Porteno, Buenos Aires

The Recoleta district in Buenos Aires is where you’ll find the majority of the city’s top hotels.  One of the wealthiest areas of Buenes Aires and a big tourist hub (mainly because of the famous Recoleta Cemetry), it’s where you’ll see many ‘chateaux’ built in the late 19th Century, imitating the French palaces.  Many of these palaces have been turned into five star hotels like the Park Hyatt (Palacio Duhau) and the Four Seasons.  But amongst the five star chains, you’ll also find the smaller, more characterful boutique hotels, like Hub Porteno.

Located round the corner from the Park Hyatt, and walking distance to Recoleta cemetery, you’ll find the 10-room Hub Porteno.

All the rooms are remarkably spacious – the Queen Twin room we had was massive, and the two ‘twin’ beds were actually like small doubles.  The complimentary amenities are worth mentioning: Nespresso machines in the room, snacks, lovely bath products and afternoon tea served at 4pm with apple cake.   What really stood out for me was the bathrooms – practically the size of the bedrooms, you can expect a lot of glass, marble and metal.  I had the best power shower ever there.

Hub Porteno, Buenos AiresHub Porteno, Buenos AiresHub Porteno, Buenos AiresHub Porteno, Buenos Aires

I found the ‘living room’ (which also doubles up as a library) a little bland, it’s strange since while the interiors are all creams and whites, it felt quite dark dark due to a lack of natural light.  Still, all is forgiven when you reach their 4th floor roof terrace; an expansive green space, with comfortable seating and it does feel, as they say, like an oasis in the middle of the city.

Hub Porteno, Buenos AiresHub Porteno, Buenos Aires

For those looking for a bit more action, then their small gym is actually perfect for a quick work out, and they also have a spa and sauna if you want some pampering.

I didn’t get to try their restaurant, but I did have a (rushed – sadly) breakfast there, and it was truly superb.  The coffee was the best I had in Argentina, and their china so beautiful.  The croissants were freshly made, and I managed to enjoy some eggs and bacon too (if you put your mind to it it’s amazing what you can eat in 10 minutes!).

Hub Porteno, Buenos AiresHub Porteno, Buenos Aires

And finally, the service was wonderful – so helpful, so personal and very warm and welcoming.  It definitely made my experience in Buenos Aires.

Hub Porteno

Rodríguez Peña 1967,

Buenos Aires

Photo credit: Hub Porteno

Instagram shot: mine

Argentina, Blog

Eolo – Patagonia’s best boutique hotel

October 31, 2015
Eolo, Argentina

There are few places which evoke an emotion upon arrival. But when I walked into Eolo’s main sitting room, with the evening light turning the countryside a warm yellow and the lake shimmering a translucent, milky blue in the distance, you can’t help but feel pretty emotional. Located in a valley with sweeping views of the mountains, the steppes and Lake Argentina, this is truly a magical place.

Eolo, Argentina

Built as a square, it was designed to fit in with, rather than stand out from its surroundings.  Its huge windows take advantage of its spectacular 360° views, with common areas on every side of the house to give you a different view.  The property is small (just 17 rooms) and feels more like a home than a hotel.  Valentin, the manager, instantly makes you feel welcome, with his warm and calm manner.  All the staff are unbelievably friendly and professional and ensure you are very well looked after.

Eolo, Argentina

The rooms are all spacious, and all, of course, with large windows.  I loved the design, all the furniture are genuine antiques sourced from antique markets all around Argentina.  Some of the antiques have been restored to incorporate more of a Patagonian feel; Patagonian wool is used throughout the property, for the chair upholstering, the rugs on your bed, the carpets.  The result is beautiful.  I was lucky enough to stay in one of the two Corner Suites, Eolo’s top rooms which offer windows on two sides.  Waking up and seeing the lake on one side and the mountains on the other was incredible.

Eolo, ArgentinaEolo, Argentina

Food is another big reason to stay here.  Relais & Chateaux hotels are known for their food, and Eolo’s standards are very high.  Their dining room is one of the most beautiful restaurants I have eaten in, and the dinner I had here was sensational.  It’s Full Board when you stay here, so if you’re out for the day exploring Patagonia they will prepare a fantastic lunch box for you (think smoked salmon sandwiches and fresh salads, with delicious homemade brownies and cakes).

Eolo, Argentina

You’re in Patagonia mainly to see the glaciers and enjoy the stunning landscapes.  Eolo is the perfect base.  They also have horses, so you can experience the area like a Gaucho.  If you just want to relax then Eolo offers comfortable sitting rooms and a library, as well as a lovely small pool and tiny spa area.

Eolo, Argentina

This was by far my most favourite hotel in Argentina.  It’s hard to pinpoint why exactly, as it’s a combination of the breath-taking views, beautiful interiors, fantastic food and wonderful people.  Eolo calls itself ‘the Patagonian spirit’, and it’s worth travelling to Patagonia just stay here, which is a big statement considering Patagonia is a stunning destination in itself.

Eolo

Ruta Provincial 11,

9405 El Calafate,

Patagonia

Argentina

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