Set just below stylish Recoleta, Hotel Pulitzer Buenos Aires knows how to unwind or get playful. The cool, contemporary bolthole has a library filled with books on Argentine art and history for studious visitors looking to explore nearby sites. Those who check in to tune out should nab a sunlounger by the pool, and take in busy Buenos Aires from above.
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A welcome cocktail each at Boca de Toro Bar & Restaurant
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability (and a half-day rate). Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £87.86 ($111).
Rates usually include buffet breakfast, which includes pastries, yogurt, egg dishes and dulce de leche.
Rooms 212 and 312 are wheelchair-accessible.
At the hotel
Library, free WiFi throughout, gym. In rooms: flatscreen TV, minibar.
Our favourite rooms
The rooms are all decorated in the same somewhat nautical style with blues, tans and white walls, so it’s hard to go wrong, but 1104 has a terrace and lets in plenty of light. If booking a standard room with a terrace, ask for 610 or 611, which overlook Maipu Street and have bigger terraces than the courtyard-facing rooms.
The sun-heated pool on the rooftop of the eighth floor is lined with loungers and soundtracked by chilled-out tunes; it is usually open from December to April, but dates vary depending on the weather.
Bring dancing shoes: some of Argentina’s best tango clubs are within blocks of the hotel.
The hotel has a library with comfortable chairs and a slew of interesting books. The country’s national library, one of the most robust collections in the hemisphere, is 3km from the hotel on the site of the palace where Evita and Juan Perón once lived.
The hotel does allow children; baby cots can be reserved at no charge, and rollaway beds are available for $60 per night.
Sit on the first floor by Visit Cocktail Bar for a brighter, more comfortable space than the lower level.
Light dresses and button-down shirts are best unless you’re headed to the pool, in which case less is more.
Boca de Toro is helmed by chef Ismael Alonso, who honed his skills in some of the best kitchens in Spain, working alongside Iberian heavyweights like Martín Berasategui, Sergi Arola and the Roca brothers. The food has a strong Spanish lean but Alonso is no die-hard purist, playing out the cuisine’s continent-crossing history and openness to latin influences. Expect first-rate tapas, refined mains and excellent South American wines.
The bar is part of Boca de Toro, serving fine wines and elegant cocktails. Up on the 13th floor, Visit Sky Bar is an alfresco option open from October to April. The bartenders mix mojitos, caipirinhas and martinis on the wood deck overlooking the city.
Boca de Toro is open from 11am to midnight.
Sandwiches, salads, classic breakfast items and other dishes can be delivered from 11.30am to 11.30pm.
Hotel Pulitzer is located in Microcentro on the west side of Buenos Aires, a short walk from Recoleta.
The city’s domestic airport is 20 minutes away by car. From Ezeiza International, which operates flights directly from London (www.britishairways.com), New York (www.aa.com) and elsewhere, the drive will take around 50 minutes.
The nearest train station is Retiro, 1.5km, or five minutes’s drive, from the hotel. Three national lines depart from the station. The city also has a metro system with a station, Plaza San Martin, a short walk away.
Retiro is on the western edge of Buenos Aires. The hotel has a car park on site ($22 a day).
Worth getting out of bed for
After you’ve sunned by the pool and sipped cocktails high above the city streets, head out to see Recoleta Cemetery, a sprawling maze of mausoleums patrolled by neighbourhood cats. Devoted fans of Eva Perón continue to make pilgrimages to her tomb. Outside the cemetery, the Recoleta barrio has a large number of galleries and museums. Be sure to visit the National Museum of Fine Arts, one of the continent’s largest museums, which has collections dating from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, including works by Argentine artists Diego Della Valle and Jacques Morel, along with classic pieces by the likes of Degas, Gauguin and Modigliani. Browse the luxury goods displayed along shop-lined Avenida Alvear and swing by El Ateneo Grand Splendid: a thetare turned bookstore, widely considered the most beautiful in the world.
On the same block as the hotel, Tancat channels Spain with Catalan tapas. Sit at the long bar, order wine and try garlicky shrimp or tomato-slathered bread. Piegari plates inky squid pasta, ravioli and caprese salads in a beautiful, perpetually packed dining room only five minutes from the hotel. Or let the chef take you on a journey at i Latina, where the menu travels from Mexico to Patagonia, with a few stops along the way. And, you can't visit Buenos Aires without at least one steak dinner (unless you're vegetarian, in which case head to Buenos Aires Verde); there are plenty of carnivore-friendly choices, but we like La Carniceria for its laden asador of home-made sausages, gizzards, ribs and slabs of steak.
Tired of steak? the aptly named and eco-minded Bio in hip Palermo Hollywood, about 6km from the hotel, serves vegan dishes made with local veg. Close by is kitschy cool Bartola, too, whose art deco frontage and photogenic plates will fill up a few squares on your Insta-grid.
A short walk from the hotel, Gran Bar Danzon fills later in the evening with locals who choose from hundreds of Argentine wines to pair with sushi and small plates. In a refurbished old house, Milión serves cocktails over multiple levels, indoors or out in a garden. The basil daiquiri is not to be missed. Dress up for an evening at chic drinking den Floreria Atlántico, where the drinks list reflects the city's melting pot of cultures and tastes.
Al Pacino led me to Argentina. Ever since Scent of a Woman, I’d always wanted to tango, albeit it with someone much taller, a lot younger and with 20/20. (Mr Smith would like it known he ticks all these boxes.) Also, Mr Smith and I can consume more steak than we’d ever admit, plus, who doesn’t enjoy a good, earthy malbec?
Which is why we chose Buenos Aires (or BsAs, as shortened by locals) for our first stop in a year-long world tour/writing sabbatical. This reviewer’s 30-cough birthday fell two weeks into our six-week sojourn in the Paris of South America, and I opted for an in-town celebration. With Mr Smith’s next book project on our minds, Hotel Pulitzer was an auspiciously named choice. So, we left our apartment in trendy Palermo Soho in an always libre taxi, for the Retiro neighbourhood, where bustling Microcentro meets grand old Recoleta.
Mr Smith and I agree that city hotels need the following: a quiet, clean room with a huge bed and space to swing a cat (we wouldn’t, really – Mr Smith is allergic); temperature and light control; a decent bathroom; and a relaxing lounge bar for drinks and nibbles. In a walking city, as BsAs is, with its wide, open avenues, the ideal hotel also needs to be central and, for that, the Hotel Pulitzer, a contemporary urban tower, certainly wins the prize.
After check-in, Mr Smith left me to siesta in our surprisingly cat-swingable Superior Double room furnished with a slim writing desk (purely for decoration – this was a strictly work-free weekend) and buttery-soft leather chairs and accents. Two hours later, I reluctantly crawled from the cocoon of our very comfortable bed. And, following one of the best showers I’ve ever had – a real skin-wrinkler – in the modern, black-tiled bathroom, I went in search of Mr Smith. The 13th floor Sky Bar (said to have postcard-perfect city views) was closed for the winter, and I found him contentedly settled into the first-floor Visit Cocktail Bar.
Scanning the impressive selection of books scattered around the sunken lounge, and, after forgiving the curator for forgetting Mr Smith’s most excellent tomes, I too eased into this cosy and hip – without being precious – literary lounge. Expanding on the bedroom palette with a neutral base, black lacquered tables and mirrors – including a black and white beauty in the shape of a flower – and deep blue velvet Chesterfield sofas popping with mod burnt orange cushions, I thought, perhaps, Megan Draper had turned to interior design. At the mention of Mad Men, Mr Smith ordered a Martini and I had a tasty coconut mojito.
We were well into cocktail mode, but the locals were still just digesting afternoon tea – we hadn’t adapted to the Porteños’ (as the locals are called) 10pm dinners. We had an early 9pm (30-cough birthday, remember?) reservation at La Brigada. A bottle of malbec along with skirt steak and ojo de bife made for a decadent feast.
We slept brilliantly and, mindful of the weekend’s indulgences, especially the previous evening’s on-going quest for the best parrilla, we glanced at the basic but serviceable hotel gym. We opted for a long, invigorating walk instead – but only after breakfast, of course. The buffet was a tempting spread – breads, fresh pastries, fruits, yoghurts, cereals, cold cuts, egg – served in the below ground (yet, cleverly not basement-feeling) restaurant where classic American diner meets modern chintz.
Walking the short distance to Plaza San Martín we said hola to the enormous statue of Jóse de San Martín, who, along with Simón Bolívar, is one of the most famous of South America’s libertadores. Crossing Calatrava’s tango-inspired Puente de la Mujer, we explored Puerto Madero, where the streets are named after famous Argentine women. As we admired the redeveloped red brick warehouses and swanky new builds on either side of the dock we were reminded of London’s own Docklands.
It was Sunday, so we made our way to the not-to-be-missed San Telmo Antiques Market. We ducked into shops and indoor markets for respite from the crowded streets, then, admiring the tango singers along the way, travelled the twin track of stalls of knick-knacks down several blocks to Plaza Dorrego. Here, in this pretty square, we found the best of the antique stalls. After deliberating over a beautiful silver-handled gaucho knife (which I regret not purchasing,) we spotted Gabriel del Campo. We could have spent hours in this den of antiquities, with its marble columns, busts, disembodied statuary feet and vintage trunks.
However, it was finally time for my first tango with Al – as in Alejandro, our dance instructor. His card read: embrace life. So we did, and each other, as we stumbled around his studio. We learned to communicate with gentle touches and, under the tutelage of Alejandro, to speak to each other through our sternums. We laughed a lot and eventually, we danced (okay, shuffled) counter-clockwise, as locals and tourists do in the city’s many milongas.
Lighter on our feet, we happily returned to our hotel and slid into what was becoming a familiar pattern: cocktails at the bar, out for malbec, parrilla sampling (this time, juicy steaks at Don Julio, our favourite, if you’re asking), repeat. We toasted to a splendid birthday weekend (again and again), deeming it definitely one for the books…