Buenos Aires is often called the “Paris of South America,” for its stunning architecture, cosmopolitan atmosphere and rich European heritage. The neighbourhood of Recoleta, and especially Avenida Alvear (Alvear Avenue), still reflect the opulence and grandeur of the 20th century when Buenos Aires was one of the wealthiest cities in the world and its prosperity was reflected in its palaces and other uniquely designed buildings.
We knew that we were in for a treat when we booked our stay at the Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires in Avenida Alvear. This was confirmed by our local Buenos Aires tour guide, who drove us through this elite avenue during our city tour, and told us that the city’s most exclusive places to stay were located here.
As we drove up to the hotel a few hours later, bellboys stood at attention, as if anticipating our arrival. The car doors were opened, we were welcomed, and our luggage was taken care of seamlessly. Our sense of anticipation was heightened as we took in the grand façade of the hotel and entered the opulent lobby through gilded doors. Marble floors, crystal chandeliers and elegant furniture dazzled us even further. After the check-in formalities were completed, we were greeted by our personal butler who led us to our room, where she showed us around.
The room was not just a room. It was a massive suite with a walk-in closet, and a huge bathroom. That was just for my husband and I. My children had their own inter-leading room and bathroom. We had a king-sized bed, a work area, and a lounge area, all spaced well apart. The beverage station had a Nespresso machine and a minibar. Entertainment included a LCD TV, a DVD player and a CD player.
Large windows overlooked the palace building and the beautiful green gardens, which were like a welcome oasis in the bustling city. After more than a week of exploring South America, we decided that this was the perfect place to put our feet up and relax. We would just stay in and enjoy our lavish surroundings. A while later, a decadent dessert platter was delivered to our room to add to our enjoyment.
The marble bathroom had double vanity stations, a toilet with a bidet, a walk-in rainshower and a wonderful spa bath, which I took full advantage of. Plush slippers and gowns were provided. The walk-in closet was spacious and contained a personal safe with a built-in laptop charger, something I haven’t seen that often.
Palacio Duhau consists of an exquisite French-inspired palace, built in the early 20th century and a separate more contemporary building. They are connected by the beautiful gardens on the ground level and an underground corridor with an art gallery and boutique stores at the basement level. The boutique stores include a pâtisserie, a bespoke tailor, an art and design store and a florist. I loved admiring the floral creations every time I passed the latter.
The in-house Ahín Wellness Spa consists of serene spa suites with beautiful views of the gardens, a hydrotherapy room, a state-of-the-art fitness studio and the largest pool in Buenos Aires, a 25-meter heated indoor pool. A well-equipped business centre provides full business services.
The hotel has a range of dining options and cuisines, including Argentinian and Italian. Breakfast is offered at two different restaurants as well as in-room. We opted to have ours at Gioia Restaurante & Terrazas where we sat in the beautiful gardens and enjoyed freshly-made eggs, smoothies, pastries. The children relished their French toast and waffles, with fresh cream and berries. Afternoon tea and all-day snacks are served at Los Salones del Piano Nobile, the Palace restaurant, and its delightful outdoor terrace.
The service was impeccable. Staff were friendly and efficient, and spoke perfect English, which was uncommon in Buenos Aires. One of the staff members told me about how she had visited Johannesburg and Kruger National Park, and was awestruck at seeing such beautiful animals on safari. An interview with the Concierge on the hotel’s website mentions how a guest wanted to go to the South Pole in Antarctica to see the penguins for just one day. The hotel made it possible.
Palacio Duhau is consistently listed as one of the best hotels in Buenos Aires. It is easy to see why. Classic elegance and charm blend perfectly with modern comforts in this prestigious Park Hyatt property. And after all, how often does one get to stay in a palace?