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Well there is always Buenos Aires

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17th Sep 2008


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Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is the ultimate haven for today's hedonist - fresh, fun, and vibrant, it’s the perfect place to ride out those economic storms that seem to be drowning the feel good factor in other parts of the world.


Buenos Aires offers two airports located on opposite ends of the city, so arriving tourists may be surprised to find a 40 minute drive through town. A small airport tax nevertheless, it is a very easy hop into the main part of the city from either airport, and the jalopy feel can only add to the rustic sense of ennui encountered on arrival. Noisy boulevards, bad quasi-slums and rather dodgy traffic are an outer ring mainstay here, but it’s fun to watch young lovers sharing a picnic in the grassy medians as you zip along the motorway to the urban oasis at the heart of the city.

Buenos Aires was created in a series of barrios, each of which have a unique flavour and feel. Much of the action is centred in Palermo's sub districts like Palmero Soho, Hollywood and Las Canitas. The Recoleta and Puerto Madero are also popular, with a very different emphasis in each. Palermo is the Soho version of urbanity, with a clutch of great shopping, restaurants and nightlife that attract a mix of locals and visitors until the early hours. Recoleta being more residential and definitely more upscale features the city's grande dame boulevards and access to parks amid gently sloping hills.

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Where to Stay

It's easy to jump between neighbourhoods; there is a growing list of boutique hotels which have swamped the city, making it easy to stay and pop out to anywhere in town. As such it's easy to find a good place in many of the major barrios - try Tablet Hotels for easy online bookings and other hip suggestions.

The San Telmo area is pretty cool, and we would suggest the Moreno Hotel, which offers 39 suites which they call lofts (some with jacuzzis) in an atmosphere that is pure Argentina - with local decor and a smattering of European glamour. The hotel restaurant and bar, Aldo’s Winery and Restaurant serves traditional Mexican food which is to die for. There is also a BeBop Jazz Club in the basement if you fancy it.

Buenos Aires Design cE Hotel, is up in Barrio Norte, another fashionable section of the city. This ultra-slick high rise is almost too modern, with beautiful design and stunning views across the city being the main attractions. Barrio Norte has some good shopping and nightlife, so it is not a bad place to be based - especially if it’s not your first visit to the city and you're there to check out everything there is to see.

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What to Eat

One of the great things about Buenos Aires is the cuisine - nowhere will you find better cow at such value. It is carnivore heaven, with thick juicy steaks available on all street corners for as little as a $5. Only in Argentina do you find menus for a selection of beef cuts that read like a Bordeaux wine list. To that end, one of the best BBQ and steakhouses is Cabana Las Lilas, located on the new docks in Puerto Madero. Las Lilas is a favourite parilla for everyone. A Churrasco Caba a here will not soon be forgotten!

For more avant-garde true Argentinian cuisine, try Lo De Pueyrredon. A parillo owed by Horacio Pueyrredon, a decendant of one of the country's most prominent political families, its incredible original tile floors, stained-glass windows red brick walls host rotating art collections. Try the empanadas or the famous locro stew.

Where possible, try to order quinoa as a side in a dish - this Incan grain super-food has become quite popular and is everything you could want in a surprising food: light and delicious.

Modern Japanese offers a nice counterpoint flavour to the endless meat on offer, and for that try Osaka. Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, it is always full to bursting due to its unique combination of great fresh sushi, its fab location in Palermo, and a beautiful crowd that makes the hour-long wait for a table seem like a trifle. We recommend booking ahead on +54 11 4775 6964.

When it comes to the cafe scene, it’s fun to wander the streets of Palermo Soho doing some shopping at the many trendy boutiques located around Plaza Serrano, then popping in for a coffee and a rest at the beautiful La Biela, which is situated in Recoleta across from the famous Recoleta cemetery. Here you can enjoy a cafe con leche or a milkshake while you watch the locals go about their business on a wide, European style terrace.

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Things to Do

When it comes to nightlife in Buenos Aires, the only rule is this: don't stop! Things continue to the early hours here, and you're not likely to even finish dinner until at least 1am. From there its onward to a variety of destinations, among them Asia de Cuba, which transforms from a dinner crowd to a party crowd as the night wears on. Other hot spots include Franks, Verne Cocktail Club and cool retro bar BASA Basement Bar, where happy hour starts at 7. Other top bars can be found here!

With so much going on in Buenos Aires, it’s easy to forget the rest of the world even exists. The city swallows you up with a great mix of local fashion, great quality of life, and a snob appeal that has failed to diminish, even as the country's financial fortunes have recalibrated themselves. It’s tempting to think of Buenos Aires as the ultimate haven for today's hedonist - fresh, fun, and vibrant, it’s the perfect place to ride out those economic storms that seem to be drowning the feel good factor in other parts of the world.

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