It seems like there's always a new boutique hotel opening in Buenos Aires. Algodon Mansion, in the posh Recoleta district, appeals to relaxed jet setters and Louis Vuitton-clad execs alike.
Built in 1912 in French Classical style, the mansion has clean, geometric forms and leafy motifs that embellish the building's façade. The exterior may be dreamy Belle Époque, but inside, the designer opted for an unfussy and masculine ambience – think ebony floors, Italian furnishings by Cappellini and B&B Italia. The six-storey stately house is full of supple leathers and exquisite woods, and delicate silks swathe the furnishings. The splendour continues in the lobby, where a dramatic glass-encased waterfall cascades down several floors.
A big draw at Algodon is its rooftop pool and lounge, a rarity in the Argentine capital. The bartender serves tasty caipirinhas and other Latin concoctions in the Sky Bar. Through a connecting terrace is the spa, where therapists employ "vine therapy," using extracts from the Algodon Wine Estates. The Cognac Bar downstairs has an impressive collection of wine labels from Mendoza and elsewhere in Argentina as well as handcrafted cigars. As you might expect, there's 24-hour butler and concierge service.
The smallest suites feature 600 square feet of living space. Move up in room category and you're treated to wet bars and fireplaces. All the suites overlook the jacaranda-tree-lined street. The bathrooms are decked in French limestone and Calacatta marble, feature free-standing tubs as well as separate steam showers. Every piece of technology in the room – from the DVD player and iPod dock to the drapes, temperature, lights and TV – is controlled from a touch-screen panel that practically requires a PhD to figure out. If you're looking to entertain or do business, you might want to splash out and book the Royal Suite which, for under three grand, includes pyjamas, a baby grand piano, a wine-tasting set and a chef. Need the entire mansion? It can be rented from $15,000 a day in low season.
To compete in Buenos Aires's chic boutique hotel scene, the owners knew they would have to give guests more than just a pretty place to stay. That's why staff at Algodon Mansion are so well trained – some have already spent years working at exclusive European hotels. Unlike at neighbouring (and some might say stuffy) Alvear Palace Hotel, staff here pull off a proficient-meets-personal approach to service. The concierge not only helped me find the perfect pair of tango shoes, but when I returned from shopping my butler presented a list of his favourite off the beaten path tango halls.
Chez Nous is the hotel's intimate Franco-Argentine restaurant featuring a gold-leaf ceiling, chocolate-coloured walls and chairs draped in micro-suede. The main seating area opens to a glass-covered patio where a fireplace keeps things cozy in the winter.
Chef Antonio Soriano, who trained in French Michelin-starred kitchens, presents delicate fare: The ricotta and rabbit ravioli melts in your mouth. And if you want beef, the velvety beef cheek is prepared with a delightful potato and black truffle foam.
On a quiet street a stone's throw from Recoleta's main shopping area, the enviable location and warm staff enhance the impression that you're staying at a very stylish friend's private sanctuary.
Montevideo 1647; Buenos Aires;
54-11-3530-7777; algodonmansion.com. 10 suites from $480.
Special to The Globe and Mail