The trip of a lifetime deserves a memorable start, which means an absurdly luxurious hotel for a few nights. Fortunately I’m writing a piece about living the high life in Buenos Aires for Destinations of the World News, a gig that opens a few otherwise inaccessible doors.
There is a handsome collection of fine hotels in Buenos Aires, but for several reasons, it had to be Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. Immodestly positioned on Avenida Alvear in the posh Recoleta neighbourhood, where agricultural barons built their opulent town houses and mansions in the late 19th and early 20th century, Palacio Duhau is an actual palace, complete with wrought iron gates, towering columns at the entrance and a curving stairway leading up to the lobby. It cuts an impressive figure on a street lined with remarkable buildings.
I have always been a fan of the Park Hyatt brand, the more boutique, high-end option in the Hyatt family. Park Hyatt hotels in Dubai, Paris and Abu Dhabi have all left a good impression in the past, with cool, minimal designs in dark colours and staff that can’t seem to do enough to make you feel welcome. Palacio Duhau is no exception.
Contrast between old and new is the underlying theme throughout the hotel. The lobby marries the old world charm of the Crystal Lounge on one side, with Italian marble floors, original wooden doors and French Bacarrat chandeliers, with a contemporary reception area clad entirely in burgundy leather panelling.
The lobby leads into the wonderful Piano Nobile, a period style restaurant with elaborate mouldings in grey and silver with five Romanesque frescoes adorning the walls. Next door, the Oak Bar is decorated in 400-year old Oak Panels that Luis Duhau, who commissioned the construction of the palace in the early 1930s, imported from Normandy in France. The room is best enjoyed accompanied with something from the impressive single malt and cognac collection.
Outside, a vast terraced garden makes the hotel unique in the city – few private green spaces exist outside Recoleta’s public parks. The branches of a thousand-year-old gomero tree, part of the gardens of the neighbouring Residencia Maguire, tower over the garden, and beds of roses and other flowers line the walkway leading down to the Posadas building – a modern addition constructed when the property was bought and converted into a hotel in 2000.
The Señorita seems suitably impressed (check out her podcast here) and as far as first impressions go, there can’t really be a better way to start our exploration of this enthralling city. There are a handful of other high-end hotels in the neighbourhood, including the Four Seasons and the wonderful Alvear Palace, but the real draw here is Recoleta Cemetery, just a few blocks away. But there is no rush. We are in Buenos Aires and we are staying in a palace. I think we’ll stay put for now.