The Great Escape: Buenos Aires


The Great Escape: Buenos Aires


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A hospitality expert with over 20 years’ experience with international hotel brands, Marina Kleiman is the co-founder of Lifestyle Unlimited, a luxury concierge company offering bespoke experiences and tailor-made travel services. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Marina was a professionally trained contemporary and ballet dancer before entering the world of hospitality. She has lived all over the world but her heart remains firmly in Argentina.

Tell us about your essential list when visiting Buenos Aires.

1. Rooftops of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has its share of rooftops and highlines that allow for great vistas. I have experienced three unique lookout points: the terrace at the Alvear Roof Bar at the Alvear Palace Hotel in Recoleta; the Crystal Bar at the Alvear Icon in Puerto Madero, with 360 degrees views of the city; and iconic Edificio Comega Trade Sky Bar, three floors of unique experiences and vistas of the downtown Buenos Aires.

2. Street food and antique markets

Love diving into the street food scene of Buenos Aires, tasting my way through San Telmo Food Market on General Simon Bolivar Street 970, to enjoy and discover three of Argentina’s favourite delicacies. Taste empanadas, a typical pastry from Argentina; choripan, an irresistible little sandwich with chorizo; and Argentina’s take on Italian pizza. To finish off you should have a delicious dessert: Argentina’s own version of Italian gelato. On Sundays we visit the antique market and enjoy the festive carnival mood that the Plaza Dorrego’s small kiosks offer.

3. Walking through the Recoleta and Retiro neighborhoods

I would start my day with breakfast at La Biela, an iconic café located in the heart of the Recoleta neighborhood, enjoy a café con leche and a tostado or media lunas (the Argentinean version of the croissant), in this area I might catch a glance of the famous dog walkers taking the pets in large groups for their morning walks.

As I walk by Avenida Alvear, I enjoy the Argentinean splendor of its architectural French Style Palaces converted today in luxury hotels such as the Alvear Palace and the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt. I take this opportunity to visit two very special boutiques located few steps away: Ayma offers knitted ponchos and ruanas and Fueguia 1833 Patagonia, a Patagonic perfume experience in a luxurious small boutique located opposite the Palacio Duhau, founded in 2010 by Julian Bedel, is a unique concept in the universe of niche perfumery. I continue to visit the auction art house of Martin Sarachaga that always has incredible Argentinean art on display on my way to cross the 9 de Julio Avenue into Arroyo street, to find the most beautiful art galleries and cafés. I love visiting the Espacio Arroyo Argentinian Art Auction House. To visit the Plaza San Martín is a must and to have lunch at the Palacio Paz, recently restored, has a lovely restaurant in the inner courtyard called Croque Madame.

More than four hundred years’ worth of architectural styles is reflected in Buenos Aires’ fascinating cityscape. Expect this and many more beguiling examples of Buenos Aires’ unique architecture, which makes it so distinctive from other cities across Latin America.

4. Check out the contemporary art scene

Contemporary art is the institutionalized web through which today’s art introduces itself to the world’s public. It is about an active international expanding and proliferating Argentinean sub-culture which stands for its own values, its own structures of permanence and change. Museums, galleries, biennials, auctions, fairs and specialized magazines have earned a constantly changing yet well-established niche in the historic evolution of visual arts. These communication nets are also present in the international economy playing a role in industries such as fashion, design and tourism. Visit the MAMBA , MACBA, or MALBA museums. All three have incredible contemporary arts collections. The experience is complemented with a visit to an art gallery. The Gachi Prieto Gallery is much more than a gallery; it contains various spaces, the venue for vernissage and interventions and a small area for workshops, since they take pride in hosting local artist to come to Buenos Aires to work and exhibit and share their pieces with the public. A true immersion in the contemporary art scene.

Buenos Aires is one of the best cities on the globe for graffiti. Palermo in particular is a breeding ground for street artists, and its recent development has caught the attention of academics who are interested in the cultural roots of this burgeoning art form. Free from restrictions, Porteños express their opinions and ideas, be they political, social or sentimental, and they bring to Palermo an unmistakable edge.

5. Textiles in modern Buenos Aires

A beautiful property in Palermo neighborhood houses Casa Ayma, a venture dedicated to producing fine textiles using original and ancient techniques and which are all handmade or woven. A visit to the house will show you the rich traditions and techniques used to weave. The experience should be complemented with a visit to the Jose Hernandez Museum and its interesting poncho and textile collection.

6. Leather: An Argentinian tradition

Leather is one of the trademarks of Argentina, and Chico Ruiz, a famous shoe designer take pride in using this noble material to create a varied of unique shoes. Every shoe is crafted individually and following a story. As the designer likes to say: Crafting a shoe is like telling a story!

7. It takes two to tango

The best Tango show in Buenos Aires is performed at the Faena Hotel, a Philip Starck design haven in Puerto Madero. The supper tango show called “Tango Rojo” or Red Tango is electrifying in a supper club cabaret environment. The dancers can offer private tango lessons and in the hotel boutique you can purchase your own pair of tango shoes to try them at the Milongas hosted every evening in Buenos Aires where the locals dance their night away. Some of the best Milonga venues are Salon Canning, La Viruta, Armenia St.1366, and El Beso – be prepared for a late night as the Milongas only get going by 10pm.

Have your personalized tango shoes made at Todo Tango or Tango VIP Shoes. Take a private tango lesson with the best of the best, Ms. Milena Plebs, a professional ballet and contemporary trained dancer that has danced all over the world performing the globally acclaimed Tango duets.

8. Polo

Visit the Estancia La Sofia, a working ranch in the pampas, for a good introduction to polo.

La Sofia is a colonial style ranch, and spectacular place to stay in the Argentine Pampa region, offering both a well-appointed, traditional building as well as a huge selection of fantastic activities for those of all ages and interests. Set in stunning grounds, with uninterrupted views of the iconic, breathtaking landscape which surrounds the property, an exceptional vacation is waiting to be enjoyed here.

Any keen horse lover will delight in the regular clinics, where everyone from beginners to advanced players have a chance to work with Marcos Antin, a professional polo player, very experienced instructor and owner of the ranch, during his on-site personal or group classes. With attention to detail here also being second to none, a visit to this enchanting rural paradise staying in one of the most charming properties around, is a unique, and truly special experience.

Have your polo mallets made at La Maroma and see the handmade sticks made to measure on your favorite colors.

9. The life and times of Evita and Juan Peron

Argentina’s most divisive pair, Evita and Juan Peron continue to provoke controversy today. Their legacy as President and First Lady is undeniable, but their work in government – and even their personalities – are subject to debate.

You can start at the epicenter of it all, the Plaza de Mayo, where the popular revolt drove Peron to power in 1946. Flanking the square is the Casa Rosada, the stage for some of Peron and Evita’s most memorable speeches. From here you can continue to the original building of the foundation Evita built to coordinate the State’s redistribution effort. Next, the Ministry of Public Works, a massive tower that looms over the 9 de Julio Avenue where, in an epic speech, Evita turned down the popular claim to make her Vice President of the Nation.

10. Empanada-making at El Federal

Try your hand at making Argentina’s most famous street food, the empanada. You can learn about the different types of filling, and perfect your crimping skills, too. This cookery class is perfect for families and groups of friends.

11. Malbec and more

Wine tasting is an art well mastered in Buenos Aires, you can enjoy the finest Malbecs at Grand Cru.

12. Secret bars

Buenos Aires is a city that never sleeps and has a robust nightlife. My favourite secret bars are Floreria Atlántico, entered through a flower and wine shop; 878, regarded as the first speakeasy of Buenos Aires; and Frank’s – walk into a phone booth to get a password to enter a hidden gem bar from a different era, with live performances nightly.

The best places to eat in your opinion?

The best parilla, as we call the Argentinean BBQ, at Don Julio, in Palermo Soho, nominated on the top 100 of the best restaurants of the world. Try the delicious cuts of beef made to perfection on a fire parrilla, booking is a must.

The best lomitos (steak sandwich) is undoubtedly at La Rambla. Order them with papas fritas for the most decadent lunch at the restaurant’s street terrace. On weekends you will find many “porteños” enjoying this traditional meal.

Sottovoce is a true gastronomic experience. Argentinean heritage is very closely linked to the immigrants that made Argentina the country it is today, the Italian influence is undeniable and one of the best restaurants to enjoy the cuisine is located in the Recoleta neighbourhood. Enjoy homemade pastas, and special dish called Malefatti which has ricotta, spinach gnocchi style served with a creamy delicious sauce and parmesan cheese. For dessert try the Panqueque de Manzana with cinnamon ice cream or a dulce de leche pancake.

At El Burladero, located in the trendy area of Recoleta, feel transported to Spain and have the best gazpacho and paella of your life, a delicious handcrafted beer will be welcoming you to tease your taste buds.

At L’Orangerie the Alvear Palace hotel, get transported to the “belle époque” of Argentina, taste the delicious savoury and sweet pastries, taste the delicious cakes in an elegant Versailles type of environment.

If you are missing a taste of Asia, visit our own “Barrio Chino” or Chinatown, located in Belgrano neighbourhood. You will find a carnival like atmosphere and a variety of eateries. If what you are missing is a traditional Japanese flavour, Ichiso is the most authentic experience you will find, small restaurant that is in a hidden path of the city behind the area of Congreso neighbourhood, you will find the closest to a Japanese dining experience in town.

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