Friday, February 22, 2008

Buenos Aires: A Tale of Two Hotels

We had a cruise booked, starting in Buenos Aires and finishing in Santiago. We decided to fly into Buenos Aires early to be able to spend a few days visiting the city.

Through our Buenos Aires travel agency, WOW! Argentina, we were booked into the Argenta Tower Hotel and Suites, technically a 4 star hotel. This small hotel is on Juncal in the Retiro district. We had a studio suite for US$142 that included the 21% tax and buffet breakfast. Our room was large with a king-sized bed and small ‘kitchen’ area. The bathroom was big enough for the two of us to move in, with large soft towels. The air conditioning worked well and we were very comfortable, with loads of room to spread out.

In the lobby, there were several doormen who rotated shifts throughout the day. They always held the door for us, wished us a 'buenos dias' on the way out and welcomed us back, with 'buenos noches', on the way in. To get to the elevators, you needed to pass by the front desk, so we felt very secure.

With a small grocery next door and within walking distance of Plaza de San Martin and several small cafes (where we appeared to be the only tourists), we were happy with the location.

In contrast, for the night before our cruise, we were at the ‘cruise/tour included’ hotel. This was the Panamericano, located right near the obelisk, facing Avenida 9 de Julio. This hotel is part of the Crowne Plaza chain and is supposed to be a 5 star hotel. It is steps away from the extremely busy and crowded Avenida Corrientes. We felt less comfortable here than we did on the quiet side street where Argenta Tower was located. Even the McDonald's on the corner had a security guard at the door.

The hotel, on the contrary, had no apparent security. There were no doormen. The desk clerk was surly. Anyone could walk into the hotel and take an elevator up to the rooms. Our room was tiny, with the double bed just barely fitting into it. The bathroom was just big enough for one, let alone two. It was in desperate need of renovation with metal decorative pieces on the shower door frame falling off because of rust. With the A/C cranked to the coolest setting, the room was still uncomfortably warm.

Want to feel comfortable and welcome? Stay at the Argenta Towers.