Vanessa Bell is a writer specializing in fashion, design, architecture and art. Raised in Paris and the UK, but having visited Argentina her entire life – thanks to her Argentine mother – she decided to move to Buenos Aires 8 years ago. As the co – author of Wallpaper Magazine’s Buenos Aires City Guide and the founder of Creme de la Creme Buenos Aires – tailor made and niche experiences of the city – Marchay friend Vanessa gives us her insider view.
Its eclecticism and spontaneity. Even after living here for nearly 8 years no two days are ever the same, and you’ll never know where your day will end up: at a friend’s dinner party, at a late night live music place listening to folk music, drinking cocktails al fresco, walking the streets with friends, going to see a band play behind closed doors in a grand private house, the list goes on.
Which hotels would you recommend to your friends?
The recently opened Alvear Icon is a nice mix between old world glamour of the flagship Palace and a contemporary Art hotel, offering beautiful rooms with amazing views. I like Home hotel for a place to escape in my own city, a place where you can feel totally at ease and pad around in comfy clothes. Each room has a different pattern of vintage wallpaper on its walls from owner Tom’s extensive personal collection. I also like 5th floor which is a boutique bed and breakfast, but in a converted art deco penthouse. It’s run by a British – Argentine couple and they’ve done a great job creating super stylish rooms.
Eating in Buenos Aires – please share your favorite spots
For a gourmet dinner – Roux (contemporary Argentine bistro) or Aramburu (molecular 18 course tasting menu).
For lunch I’d say Mishiguene Fayer – amazing Levantine food brasserie or Narda Comedor if you’re craving something healthy in this meat centric city.
Los Galgos is my favorite cafe/bar in town. Great for medialuna and cafe con leche in the morning, fantastic lunches and the best evening cocktails with an ambience that takes some beating.
Another favorite is a Peña called P’al que Guste: a cultural bar devoted to Gaucho culture and music. Only open a matter of months, it serves up traditional countryside fare (the best spicy meat empanadas!), and has live guest musicians singing folklore music about life in the Pampas from Thursday–Saturday.
One should not leave Buenos Aires without ~
A visit to the Palacio Barolo to see the view of the Congreso Plaza at sunset. Eat like a local and try a bondiola sandwich with lemon on the Costanera Sur.
Where do you like to shop?
My current favourite local designers are JT Not to be understood, Roma Renom and for sublime knitwear I adore Maydi, who uses local artisan techniques and organic wool.
Facon is great for a contemporary take on traditional Argentine products with a mix of modern design and stunning crafts from the Pampas and the Northern Provinces, housed in an old colonial house. Finish up with a wine tasting.
For art I love the Ruth Benzacar Gallery, it is housed in a huge warehouse space, with fantastic exhibitions and an equally impressive backroom with a curated selection of pieces by all the artists represented by this influential gallery which supported many emerging artists in the 60s Op and Pop art movements and young contemporary artists to this day.
Which theaters and museums do you love to visit?
I love the Complejo Teatral de San Martin – a wonderful cultural central and modernist architectural gem which has just been given a painstaking refurbishment by a team of skilled experts. It offers theatre productions and contemporary ballet, as well as cinema which regularly shows international art house film cycles. For fluent Spanish speakers, check out the fantastic Gaumont for great independent Argentina cinema.
The Teatro Colon was refurbished a few years ago and is regularly cited by international musicians as having one of the best acoustics in the world. Definitely recommend booking to see a classical music concert or opera here.
Another personal favourite is the tucked away Museo Larreta, the country house and Andalusian garden of a well travelled Argentine writer and the collection of Hispanic art he amassed during his travels and lifetime. An absolute treat. A green oasis in the middle of the urban jungle.
BA after dark – where is your favorite spot to end the day?
Casa Cavia is great for cocktails with an innovative list designed by Ines Dos Santos, one of the city’s most talented mixologists. Sit outside in the sumptuous courtyard on warm summer nights and subtly eye up the chic clientele.
Alvear Icon | Aimé Painé 1130 | +54 11 4114-0900
Home Hotel | Honduras 5860, C1414BNJ | +54 11 4779-1006
5th floor | Palermo | + 54 11 4827-0366
Roux | Peña 2300 Recoleta | +54 11 4805 6794
Aramburu | Salta 1050 | +5411 4305 0439
Mishiguene Fayer | AV. Cervino 4417 Palermo | +54.11.4774.3313
Narda Comedor | Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre 664, C1428DUB | +54 9 11 6131-0664
Los Galgos | Av. Callao 501, C1022AAF | +54 11 4371-3561
P’al que Guste | Talcahuano 949, C1013AAS | +54 11 5002-4869
Facon | Nicaragua 4880,Cdad. Autónoma de Buenos Aires, 1414 | +54 11 4832-7711
Ruth Benzacar Gallery | Juan Ramírez de Velasco 1287 | +54 11 4857-3322
Complejo Teatral de San Martin| Av. Corrientes 1530, C1042AAO | +54 800-333-5254
Teatro Colon | Cerrito 628, C1010
Museo Larreta | Av. Juramento 2291, C1428DNK | +54 11 4783-2640
Casa Cavia | Cavia 2985, Palermo Chico | +54 11 4809-8600
Photo cred: Pilar Condomí