You heard it here. Our trend spotters swear that 2016 is all about South America, where good deals, great food, spectacular landscapes, history and culture are all a reasonable flight away. Passported’s Monique just returned from a long weekend in Buenos Aires and shares what’s right for a romantic getaway to this chic Argentine city.
Stay: Algodon Mansion
Honeymoon worthy and full of Argentine charm, this Recoleta hideaway has only ten rooms, so you're likely to have the rooftop jacuzzi and plunge pool to yourself. Every room is massive and comes with butler service, while bathrooms have steam showers and soaking tubs built for two. Seriously, this is baby-making territory. Tip: Algodon’s sister property in Mendoza creates incredible wines, all available at the hotel. Sign up for a tasting with the in-house sommelier then ship home a couple cases to relive your weekend en casa.
Morning: Half-day tour
If you're in the mood to explore on your own, go for it, but the city is large, and you’ll need a game plan if you want to see a little of everything. When you’re short on time, a local guide (and a fast car) can whisk you through the city in 3 hours, sharing the highlights and the history plus provide a lay of the land so you know where you’ll want to return to wander on your own. You’ll probably start at the Plaza de Mayo, where you’ll see the famous Casa Rosada and Evita’s balcony, working your way to hip Palermo, then to the seaport of BA, Puerto Madero, gritty La Boca to the south, ending at Recoleta Cemetery. If you have a long leisurely lunch in mind, a morning tour is the perfect way to check some sites off your list so you can kick back by the pool in the afternoon. Algodon's concierge is great and can set everything up for you.
Wander: Shopping in Palermo
Start on Gurruchaga street and explore the blocks around Costa Rica and Gorriti. Pehache 1418 for a cool concept shop and cafe, Tramando for women's fashion, Doma for leather goods, Paul Deco for interiors, Mishka for shoes, and Elementos Argentinos for home decor are all worth a visit.
Lunch: Oui Oui
I'm biased, but I generally believe that NYC has the world's best brunches. Until I met Palermo's Oui Oui. This cafe looks like the kind of West Village spot that has lines around the corner on weekends, except it's busy and bustling every day. If you’re craving a proper breakfast after a night out, you’ll be glad you dragged yourself out of bed for a meal here, or come for a leisurely lunch after shopping Palermo.
Dinner: Casa Coupage
This closed door supper club in Palermo is one of the city’s most famous and has an eight-course tasting menu that I’m still thinking about. If you’re a wine lover, you can’t skip Casa Coupage, as the owners are sommeliers (and the servers), and there are only nine tables so you’ll eat well, drink more and probably make some new friends along the way.
Drink: Floreria Atlantico
After dinner, head to this speakeasy bar hidden underneath a flower shop in the Retiro district. It’s cozy, romantic and has cocktails with house-made gin that are a must.
Take a stroll through MALBA, Buenos Aires’ gorgeous contemporary art museum dedicated to Latin American art. It’s small enough that you can see everything in a few hours, and it’s nicely located across from the Japanese gardens for a walk afterwards.
Eat: Casa Cavia
I cannot properly express my love for this adorable café, bookshop, flower shop, outdoor lounge bar and courtyard. As you enter the cafe, you see gray matte marble, polished brass bookshelves and cozy chartreuse velvet chairs where you can sink in with a book or a coffee. In the back, the courtyard has an adjacent bar with the world’s most gorgeous stacks of colorful liquors and spirits. I only had ten minutes to walk around, and it broke my heart to leave. Should you have the chance to visit Casa Cavia, prepare to stay for a bit.
Speaking of Casa Cavia, this custom perfumery sits in the back and is ground zero for the best travel souvenir. You can commission your own bespoke scent or select from one of fifty, all created from sustainable Patagonian ingredients. There’s also a location in Recoleta across from the Park Hyatt, but this is my favorite.
If you’re not quite up for another tasting menu but want something special, hit Astor, where the food is fab but the setting more casual and less belly busting. But if you’re down for another epic meal, Aramburu is your destination. The 12-course tasting menu is decadent, unpredictable, and the definition of a big night out.
Dance: Rojo Tango
Jump a taxi to the Faena hotel in the Puerto Madero district for a very cool (and somewhat racy) tango show after dinner. Make sure to have a drink in the bar beforehand.
Morning: Art or Sport
If you’re in the mood for more art, head to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, a mix of European and Argentine art from the 19th century. Coleccion Fortabat carries everything from Egyptian artifacts to 20th-century artists, while Fundacion Proa is one of the coolest contemporary galleries. Futbol fanatics should stop into the Museo de la Pasion Boquense at the Bombonera stadium, where you can see the famous team’s jerseys and trophys, visit the locker rooms then walk on the pitch (no judgment if you need a moment when overwhelmed by Maradona emotion).
Lunch: Aramburu Bis
A perfect lunch stop, particularly if you didn’t make it to Aramburu, this casual and colorful eatery has a chalkboard menu with daily specials and a farmhouse vibe. Grab a spot at the communal table and mingle with Porteños.
It’s off the beaten path, but the Trosman showroom in Villa Crespo is worth a visit if you’re into Argentine fashion. There’s also a sweet café inside called Yeite. Think Ottolenghi-style salads and sandwiches and soups.
Evening: Steaks or Siamo nel Forno
Despite the city’s large Italian community, though, the pizza is surprisingly bad. Enter Siamo nel Forno, a major exception and some of the best Neapolitan pizza I have ever eaten. It’s a simple spot with laid-back, smiling staff serving super fresh fare and pizzas hot out of the wood-fired brick oven. Siamo sits in Palermo and is stylish enough for date night but also casual enough that you can stop in with shopping bags post-retail binge and not feel out of place.
If your visit includes a Sunday, be sure to visit the famous San Telmo market (La Brigada is a good lunch spot in San Telmo). It’s a mix of tchotchkes and serious antiques, and the El Zanjon tunnels run underneath so you can get an above- and below-ground look at this historic neighborhood.