The Alvear Palace is a Buenos Aires landmark. Dreamed up by businessman and socialite Dr. Rafael de Miero, who wanted to bring back 1920s Paris grandeur to his hometown, the hotel was erected in 1932 on the corner of Avenida Alvear and Rodriguez Peña after a decade of on-and-off construction. Then after much fanfare, it expanded in 1940, taking over an old mansion next door. For several decades, Alvear Palace was owned by the Duke of Hornes, Spanish cousin of King Juan Carlos I, though Argentina’s economic situation saw the hotel’s reputation steadily decline. Since Anglo-Argentine developer David Sutton Dabbah (also co-owner of Patagonia’s Llao Llao Hotel & Resort) purchased the property in 1984, the Palace has been renovated and renovated again, most recently in 2011, which lowered the room count and revived the lavish Louis XV furnishings. Bathroom amenities are now custom-made by Hermès. The lobby bar hasn’t changed a bit, and many of the rooms, while still as picture-perfect as ever, could be mistaken for another century. There are touches of modern luxury in the spa, but over-the-top opulence is still the dominant theme running through the signature French restaurant and afternoon tea, as high society lingers.
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Set amid the fabulous Belle Epoque mansions on perhaps the most exclusive street in Buenos Aires’s most exclusive neighborhood, the Alvear Palace is well located to take in the city’s finer things. Set in an 1870 building, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes holds the largest collection of works from Argentina’s greatest 20th-century painters. Tucked away on a Recoleta side street is Comme Il Faut, a decades-old shop that sells some of the finest handcrafted tango shoes in the city. At Celedonio Lohidoy in the Galería Promenade, one can find the signature jewelry, laden with pearls and semiprecious stones, of a designer who is gaining an international audience.
Need to Know
Rooms: 191 rooms, 32 suites. From $299. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The elegant La Bourgogne serves some of the best French cuisine in Buenos Aires. French chef Jean Paul Bondoux, who helped open the restaurant in 1993, offers classic French dishes such as sea bream in butter sauce and also prepares short tasting menus. For the English tradition of afternoon tea—a legacy of British immigration to Argentina—there’s L’Orangerie, with local touches like the Alvear Cake smothered in dulce de leche. The Lobby Bar, with its original wood paneling, has changed little in the past 80 years, with classic cocktails still helping to smooth over business meetings. Spa and gym details: The Alvear Spa & Fitness Center has all one expects from a comprehensive facility—a heated pool, state-of-the-art gym with a Kinesis program, a full-service spa and a wellness area with saunas, pools, and signature treatments.
Who’s it for: Refined travelers, in Buenos Aires for leisure or business, with money to spare and a need for sophistication. Our favorite rooms: The Alvear Suite, added during the most recent renovation, takes the royal grandeur theme to a new level with its oval French-style living room, oversized Carrara marble bathroom, and bronze and crystal chandeliers. Expansive service: Deluxe suite categories (and up) come with additional butler service, which will have suits pressed, find a babysitter, or draw one’s bath.