A New Hotel With Great Views and a Supercool Lobby Bar Arrives in Buenos Aires

In a historic 1929 building that used to be the tallest in South America, Hotel Casa Lucia offers travelers a view of the city’s next era.

View of the lobby bar at Hotel Casa Lucia in Buenos Aires. The floor is checkered black and white and the ceiling is a glass roof with a chandelier.

The lobby bar at Hotel Casa Lucia is in an atrium that was formerly an open street between the buildings.

Courtesy Hotel Casa Lucia


The vibe: A stylish boutique hotel with solid service and storied architecture—all in a fashionable neighborhood

Location: Arroyo 841, Buenos Aires, Argentina | View on Google Maps

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The Afar take

Hotel Casa Lucia arrives in Buenos Aires just as the city seems to be back on travelers’ radars, thanks to its acclaimed restaurants, lively nightlife, great art and museums, and of course all that good wine and nature to which it serves as a gateway.

More hip boutique than luxe grande dame, the Casa Lucia is full of character and modern flair yet still manages to flaunt its historic roots. And while Buenos Aires already has a few high-end stalwarts (the Four Seasons, the Palacio Duhau–Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, and Alvear Palace, for example), as well as a decent selection of boutique hotels, it hasn’t had anything new and notable of either type in a long time, which is one reason this arrival is so exciting.

The other reason is that the building itself is part of the story of Buenos Aires: It’s an early 1900s skyscraper that once earned the superlative of tallest on the continent. From 2003 to 2017, it was a Sofitel, but then it fell vacant and abandoned until Spanish hotel company Único chose this site as its debut in Argentina.

Now, as Buenos Aires seems to rise again, this hotel—in the chic Recoleta neighborhood, with its Parisian, tree-lined streets, cafés, art galleries, and swanky shops—is part of the reason to visit the Argentine city.

Who’s it for?

Casa Lucia is for travelers looking for a comfortable, fashionable experience that’s a little insulated and set apart from the bustle of the city. Though the restaurant and bars are quality, they’re not hopping with non-guests the way some hotel restaurants in other parts of the city are. For me, that was a positive—the hotel felt like a stylish respite.

A bit of context: I stayed here on my own to check out this hotel while the friends I was traveling with stayed in two other spots in Palermo, a popular neighborhood for tourists that’s known for shopping and nightlife. I found Casa Lucia’s neighborhood of Recoleta to be much more relaxing, quiet, and upscale. Every time my Uber rolled up to the decorative hotel gates on the curving cobblestone Arroyo Street, the doormen rushed to help me in or out of the car, and I felt pampered and safe. That experience, combined with the general attentiveness of all the staff, makes me comfortable recommending this hotel for solo travelers too.

Keep in mind that the gym and spa are small, and though you can get connecting rooms, the hotel isn’t geared toward families. Business travelers might find the private meeting and dining rooms useful, and the spacious, fashionable restaurant and bar areas would likely make for good spots for a power lunch or networking drink.

Arroyo Street in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A narrow curved cobblestone street with green trees and white French stone buildings with wrought-iron balconies

The hotel is on Calle Arroyo, a charming street with a Parisian feel.

Photo by Billie Cohen

The location

The hotel is in the Recoleta neighborhood, which was described to me as “Parisian” before I arrived—and completely lived up to that adjective. The architecture is a very French combination of stately limestone and delicate wrought iron, and on a walk around the block you’ll see fashionable boutiques, art galleries, gelato shops (a big part of B.A. culture), and cafés with outdoor seating (the one across from the hotel is an adorable explosion of pink flowers and frosted cakes).

The big attractions of the city—including the San Telmo market, the Recoleta Cemetery (where Eva Perón is entombed), the Teatro Colón, Plaza de Mayo, and the fantastic El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore—are all a 10- to 25-minute Uber ride away. You can walk to some things (the cemetery is about 25 minutes from the hotel), but I found that in general, destinations in B.A. are farther apart than they look on a Google map, and anytime you leave whatever neighborhood you’re staying in, it’s going to be at least 10 minutes in a car or 20 minutes on foot.

The hotel is full of character and modern flair yet still manages to flaunt its historic roots.

The architecture

Aerial view of Edificio Mihanovich, completed in 1929

Shipping businessman Nicolás Mihanovich wanted a skyscraper from which he could watch his vessels ply the waters off Buenos Aires.

Courtesy Hotel Casa Lucia

My favorite things about this hotel are the stories behind the architecture and what’s now the lobby bar.

Let’s start with the 20-floor tower, which was once the tallest building in South America. Completed in 1929, it was dreamed up by shipping magnate Nicolás Mihanovich, who came to South America from what’s now Croatia as a crew member of an English ship in the mid-19th century. He went on to run his own business and, the legend goes, built the lighthouse-shaped tower—dubbed Edificio Mihanovich—so that he could watch his ships going in and out of the Buenos Aires harbor.

Directly in front of that historic high-rise are two low-slung buildings that reach forward like lion paws. Until just a few decades ago, the alley between them was open to the air—a small street lined with shops that led to the entrance of the Edificio.

Now all three buildings make up the hotel, and the alley has been turned into an atrium that’s enclosed with a glass roof, paved with a retro black-and-white tile floor, and decorated with jewel-toned sofas and tables. A colossal wood-and-gold bar looms large at the far end, beckoning locals and hotel guests alike to have a drink in what’s now a hip indoor hangout.

I spent an afternoon relaxing there with Buenos Aires–based travel adviser Maita Barrenechea, founder of Argentina-based luxury travel-planning company Mai10. As we sipped drinks, she pointed to one of the windows in the formerly exterior wall next to our sofa and recalled that she had bought her wedding dress from the seamstress who’d had a shop there when the lobby was an open-air street. Then she pointed up to the tower’s peak and told me stories of the university friend whose family lived in an apartment on one of the upper floors; they’d studied there together. Today those upper floors are expansive private suites for hotel guests.

a hotel room balcony overlooking Buenos Aires. The furniture and balcony wall are tan.

Some rooms have balconies with lounge furniture and outdoor showers for cooling off.

Courtesy Hotel Casa Lucia

The rooms

The 142 rooms and suites are designed with a dark-wood and light-linen look—sort of Scandi meets Spanish colonial. I stayed in a lower-floor Executive Suite, and it was comfortable and spacious enough to fit a couch sitting area and a small dining table. The mini cocktail cart was a classy touch, featuring a lime, a fresh rosemary sprig, tonic, and gin and vodka. (Check out my quick video tour.)

My bathroom was behind a set of retro wooden-and-glass doors with all modern fittings inside: a big soaking tub, a rain shower, and a bidet. As usual, my recommendation to all hotels is to add more hooks, including a couple right outside the shower. This bathroom needed a few more in that spot, but Casa Lucia does get points for having three coat hooks in the entryway of the room. Those little touches of convenience make a hotel room livable.

When I visited, the tower floors weren’t open yet, but they are now, and that’s where the best rooms are. Some have balconies overlooking the city, with sun loungers and an unenclosed cool-off shower. Others have exclusive privacy; the two Tower Suites, for example, can be combined into one sprawling 1,291-square-foot residence that occupies an entire floor.

Argentine art and furniture can be found throughout the hotel: The rooms’ bedside lamps are designed by Argentinian artist Cristián Mohaded, a mixed-media mural by local artist Maria Cristina Codern fills the lobby, and there was even a cookbook by an Argentine chef on my coffee table.

Downstairs, the hotel has a spa with three treatment rooms and a 16-meter (52.5-foot) pool, plus a small gym that isn’t fancy but will get the job done. When I met with sales director Patricio Costa, he pointed out that since many flights to B.A. arrive early in the morning before check-in time, the hotel invites guests to take advantage of the facilities to shower and change so they can better enjoy their day until their room is ready. It was one of many thoughtful gestures from the staff I met throughout my stay.

A bar with orange velvet chairs, small blck bar tables, wood floors, and black walls with art hanging on the walls

Le Club Bacan serves cocktails and more than 400 Argentine wines.

Courtesy Hotel Casa Lucia

The food and drink

Let’s start with the wine, because this is Argentina after all. The hotel has more than 400 varieties of Argentine wine alone, curated by master sommelier Aldo Garcia. They can be paired with Argentine flavors in the Cantina restaurant, such as the country’s other signature savorable: steak. For lighter fare, sample a flight of Argentine empanadas or the local chickpea “pizza” I came to love, faina (topped here with burrata and a tomato-basil pesto). Pastas, wood-fired chicken, and dulce de leche desserts (ubiquitous in Buenos Aires) are also on the menu, and Cantina turns into the breakfast restaurant every morning, complete with a large buffet and à la carte items, all included with your stay.

If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, savor some wine at Le Club Bacan, the hotel’s dark, sleek club. Its velvet seats and large booths are arranged to create many private nooks, including a front room where a fireplace and shelves of stylish knickknacks conjure a sophisticated-library–meets–punk-rock aesthetic. But you may want to switch to cocktails come nightfall. As DJs spin in the back room, bartenders deliver pretty concoctions like the Mi Buenos Aires Querido (gin, dry vermouth, bitters, and Hesperidina, a local aperitif made with orange peels) and the La Flor Azul (tequila, lime, honey, and house-made passion-fruit liqueur).

I’ll mention here that Le Club Bacan is heavily perfumed, and you can decide for yourself if that’s your bag. For me, it was overpowering and uncomfortable, but one of my friends loved it.

Hotel Casa Lucia Buenos Aires room interior. The bed has white linens, and the couch and walls are gray.

The hotel has 142 rooms and suites.

Courtesy Hotel Casa Lucia

Staff and service

The staff at Casa Lucia is one of the hotel’s best attributes. Nearly everyone I met—from the front-door staff and the front-desk agents to the housekeeper on my floor—quickly came to know me by name or face. I got recommendations from various people for picturesque neighborhoods, cafés, and art galleries, and upon learning that I’m nerdy for architecture, one staffer Google-mapped me a walking route to take in a few don’t-miss buildings on my way to the national library.


Per the hotel’s communications department, Casa Lucia is accessible from the lobby through the common spaces, with adapted restrooms on the first floor and an Executive Suite category that has a bathroom and shower adapted for wheelchair users.

I suggest that travelers with accessibility needs contact the hotel for more specifics about those features and information about the hotel entrance to make sure everything is navigable for you.

Billie Cohen is executive editor of Afar. She covers all areas of travel, and has soft spots for nerd travel, maps, intel, history, architecture, art, design, people, dessert, street art, and Oreo flavors around the world. Follow her @billietravels.
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