A Weekend in Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires

By Amy Scott:

Palermo Place is a new hotel in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Noticing that the best hotels in the city were arguably downtown or in Recoleta, the American owners wanted to offer business and leisure travelers a high-end experience in Palermo, which in the past few years has become one of the city’s liveliest and hippest neighborhoods. Palermo Place, Nicaragua 5865, toll-free U.S./Canada Tel.: 800-281-5951, local Tel.: (+54) 11 3220-9600. Grand-opening rates until August 1, 2011: $189 + IVA (value-added tax) per room with breakfast, $175 + IVA per room without breakfast.

My fiancé and I were lucky to have the chance to check out Palermo Place just a few weeks after it opened. It’s in a great location close to lots of bars and restaurants, some shops, and transportation–the nearest subway station is about five blocks away.

We were welcomed to the hotel by the friendly doorman and the receptionist. As with many new buildings in the neighborhood, the eight-floor hotel has a very modern design, and the long, narrow lobby features lots of straight lines, dark wood, and chrome accents.

This is a small, intimate hotel, with a total of 26 guest rooms. It also has a small gym, outdoor deck for sunbathing (with showers), and a laundry room. On the eighth floor is a terrace with tables and chairs, a great view of the city, and a parrilla (Argentine grill) for guest use.

Our room was on the fourth floor, with a view toward the middle of the block. The custom furniture was designed by Gianni Berelli, and the effect of the dark wood is striking as you enter: one whole wall features built-in closets, shelves, a kitchenette, and shelving to hold the 32-inch LCD TV and DirecTV console. On the opposite wall, a long dark-wood headboard frames the king-size bed and two retro-looking nightstands.

A small desk is built into the corner beyond the kitchenette, and there are outlets for both local- and American-style plugs (remember, the power is 220 volts here). The corner is kind of dark, and it would be great to have a light above the desk. Both Wi-Fi (password protected) and wired Internet are available free of charge. I wasn’t able to connect to the Wi-Fi, so I used the wired connection instead, and it was super-speedy. I didn’t have my own Ethernet cable, so I had to unplug the super-short cable from the phone and plug that into my computer. It’s a VoIP phone, so with only one cable I couldn’t be online and use the phone at the same time (free local calls, long-distance and international calling plans available). This isn’t a huge issue, but not ideal. Having my name show up on the display on the phone was a nice touch, though!

The kitchenette is well stocked with minifridge, two-burner electric stovetop, large sink, toaster, microwave, coffeemaker, a few pots and pans, a few cooking utensils, and dishes, glassware, and silverware for two. Serious cooks might be disappointed, though–I didn’t see any chopping knives, for example. A kitchen towel (or at least paper towels) and a garbage can with a plastic bag in it and/or a lid would also be nice.

Across the room, his and hers slippers awaited on each side of the bed–a great touch to keep feet warm on the cold tile floor! Speaking of staying warm, it’s late fall in Buenos Aires. Although we had the wall heating unit turned on, it wasn’t very powerful, and the room was a bit chilly at times. I was thankful for the cozy down comforter on the bed.

The hotel was very quiet for the most part, with hardly any noise from the hallway or the other rooms (though it’s possible there wasn’t anyone else staying on our floor). There was some noise from a soccer game or something–cheering, whistles–during the afternoon, but it was VERY quiet at night, and the blackout curtains made it easy to sleep in. The sound of the fridge kicking on was kind of loud, and I was worried it would wake me up, but I slept very well in the comfortable king-size bed.

The bathroom amenities don’t have any particular branding, but are good quality. The shower has one of those curved curtain rods–I love how roomy they make the shower seem. The bath towels are HUGE and fluffy. The full-size powerful hairdryer is a nice improvement over typical hotel hairdryers that are attached to the wall and have very little oomph.

Food was definitely a highlight of our weekend getaway. Palermo Place left a lovely bottle of wine in the room, a two-liter bottle of water, plus a fruit basket, some alfajores (typical Argentine chocolate-covered double-decker cookies), and the highlight: luscious truffles from nearby restaurant Pani.

The hotel doesn’t have its own restaurant, so guests are provided with breakfast vouchers that can be used at several nearby cafés: Pani, Bartola, and The Food Factory. We tried the first two, and they were both very good. Options were fairly similar at both: toast with dulce de leche; pastries; eggs; or granola with fruit and yogurt, all with coffee or tea included. I’d recommend Pani if you want very tasty, high-quality baked goods, and Bartola if you’re really hungry–their portions were larger and more like your typical American breakfast. I ordered scrambled eggs at both places, and they were both good, but Bartola’s serving was about twice the size and also included toast, roasted potatoes, and the Argentine version of bacon. At Pani, the eggs came with excellent homemade toast and a super-flaky croissant. Their medialunas (sweet Argentine-style croissants) were also good. Pani, Nicaragua 6044, Tel.: (+54) 11 4772-6420; Bartola, Nicaragua 5935, Tel.: (+54) 11 4777-6183; The Food Factory, Nicaragua 6055, Tel.: (+54) 11 4774-7271.

The first night, we chose to eat dinner at El Manto, a nearby Armenian restaurant highly recommended in the Time Out Buenos Aires magazine provided by Palermo Place (they ask you to leave it behind for the next guests). El Manto did turn out to be very good, with dim lighting, colorfully painted walls, and really flavorful food. The waitress was very knowledgeable and answered our questions about the menu and then explained everything as she brought it out (she also pointed to the descriptions in the English menu as she went along). Our bill came to about 200 pesos (US$50) for a bottle of wine; mezze platter with hummus, baba ghanouj, etc.; lamb shish kebab with roasted eggplant, tomato, and yogurt; and a dessert sampler with pastries like baklava and a scoop of ice cream. El Manto, Costa Rica 5801, Tel.: (+54) 11 4774-2409.

The next night we took the hotel’s recommendation for a good parrilla (Argentine steak house), which led us to Miranda, just a few blocks away. We ordered provoleta (a slab of grilled provolone, the perfect balance between crispy on the outside and melted inside), bife de chorizo (a strip loin steak, cooked just right), grilled vegetables with a pesto drizzle, and wine, of course. It’s a little pricier than El Manto: we didn’t order dessert, and the bill came to about 200 pesos (US$50) once again. One nice touch is that Miranda doesn’t charge a cubierto (“cover charge” imposed at many restaurants, especially at dinnertime; at El Manto the cubierto was about US$2 pp). Get to Miranda early (that means 8:30 or 9 p.m. in late-night Buenos Aires), or have your hotel make a reservation for you–there were a lot of people waiting when we left. Miranda, Costa Rica and Fitz Roy, Tel.: (+54) 11 4771-4255.

WEB RESOURCES

NOTE: This trip was sponsored in part by Palermo Place.

Amy L. Scott

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