Buenos Aires New YearsGalavante Confidential - La Vida Dulce: Buenos Aires and the Punta del Este
Where partying is considered a CULTURAL activity, Buenos Aires and the Punta del Este are legendary for their New Years celebrations. Referred to as BA and Punta by those who are effortlessly cool, these cities are an unbreakable circuit to ring in the New Year. For your weekend GALAVANTE, you will have a little bit of beach, a little bit of city and a whole lot of RAUCOUS good times.
By now you know that a mellow weekend this is not. In BA and the Punta, you’ll be up all night at the clubs and sleep all day by the pool. Argentina is a European country with a sultry Latin vibe—an especially alluring combination that will leave you hopelessly in LOVE.
Upon first glance, Buenos Aires seems familiar, reminding you of a long lost friend. With its grand boulevards and European architecture, it’s been compared to Paris, but scratch the surface and you’ll soon realize this culturally rich metropolis has a spirit all its own.
If you prefer a hip neighborhood with a boho-chic vibe, then Legado Mitico—a small, upscale boutique hotel in Palermo—should be your casa temporal. With a mere eleven rooms, each is tastefully decorated to reflect the spirit of Argentina by showcasing beloved and controversial local legends. You can choose to stay in rooms that pay homage to such figures as Evita, Che Guevara, Carlos Gardel and Jorge Luis Borges. Located on a quiet street, the hotel is a short walk to the nearby shopping boutiques and colorful cafes. The friendly and attentive staff gives new meaning to the saying mi casa es su casa.
If you’re more uptown than downtown, then the ultra-chic neighborhood of Recoleta, home to some of the city’s toniest addresses, is for you. The Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau is a chic hotel choice, combining old world luxury with modern amenities. A former palace with spacious rooms, gorgeous grounds and first-class service, this belle-époque inspired property will leave you feeling like visiting royalty in town for a polo match.
After checking in to your hotel, start the day off with breakfast at Café Retiro, in the lobby of the Retiro train station. With antique lighting and ornamental design details that have been restored to the splendor of the original café built in 1915, Café Retiro offers a flashback into Buenos Aires Viejo and a glimpse into Argentine life. Enjoy a typical Argentine breakfast of café con leche and medialunas before making your way to Casa Rosada, which houses the presidential offices and is the site of Evita’s famous speech to the masses. Stroll down Avenida de Mayo, one of the city’s grandest boulevards and get lost in the Neo-classical and Neo-baroque architecture as you meander to the Plaza del Congresso, a picturesque square and home to Rodin’s El Pensador and the Palacio del Congreso.
Refuel in Recoleta at Cumaná, an energetic and rustic restaurant serving Argentine comfort food such as empanadas and cazuelas. You’ll need sustenance as you’ve just entered one of the city’s greatest shopping districts. Walk along the Avenida Alvear—the Fifth Avenue of Buenos Aires—to shop in the city’s most exclusive boutiques.
After a much-deserved siesta, stop by the legendary Café Tortoni, one of the oldest cafes in the city, for a pre-dinner tango show. The show has a Vegas-like quality to it, but no visit would be complete without watching this tantalizing dance in its native land. As for dinner, in a country where cows outnumber people, it’s no surprise that the cuisine is centered on steak. Dine at La Cabrera, a parrillas, serving generous portions of tender, grass- fed beef accompanied by complementary sauces and side dishes. And steak has no better partner here than the local wine so let the Malbec flow at this lively restaurant.
Don’t let the relaxed daytime atmosphere fool you, this town is all about the nightlife. Although New York has the moniker as “the city that never sleeps,” here, where dinner begins around 10p.m. and the clubs don’t start hopping until 2, that honor seems better suited to Buenos Aires.
After dinner, make your way to Puerta Uno, a lounge “Escondido.” The clandestine entrance is marked only by a black door. You must ring the bell to gain admission to this cocktail den then once inside, you’ll discover an imaginative list of libations and sexy lighting, creating the perfect storm for spending the night liaising with the locals until the wee hours. For New Years, the classic clubs of Pacha and Tequilla will have you imbibing on just that, well into the night. For a more grown-up experience, head to the Faena for the Midnight Tango party, which will be just as spirited but a little more sophisticated.
For your next day check out San Telmo, the historic heartbeat of the city with its colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. Spend the morning on Calle Defensa browsing the numerous antique shops containing treasures from the Argentine aristocracy. Take a taxi to Palermo, a trendy, yet always stylish barrio where you will find boutiques selling fashionable clothes by local designers, hip restaurants, and an up-tempo nightlife. If shopping is on your agenda while in Palermo, check out Rapsodia and Akiabara for women and Felix and Etiqueta Negra y Gola for men. Check out our article on Latin American designers, who will have you outfitted in couture quality clothing for much gentler prices.
Bar 6 in Palermo, with its exposed brick and large, oversized velvet furniture, makes for a fun Alice in Wonderland meets the cast of Friends atmosphere for dinner. The décor is as eclectic as the menu and the wine list is extensive but the ojo de bife and lamb take top billing.
Continue on to Ocho7Ocho, another exclusive hotspot where a door marked 878 informs you that you’ve arrived. Ring the bell and wait for the doors to open—sesame. The well-heeled denizens at this watering hole have access to an inventive cocktail list as well as bottle service at a fraction of U.S. prices. Lounge on one of the sofas and contemplate porteño life.
Since you’re living the life of a jetsetting porteño,hop a flight to Punta del Este, the St. Tropez of South America. Greater Punta includes neighboring La Barra and José Ignacio and offers miles of beaches, beautiful people, and nonstop nightlife.
Stay at the Hotel L’Auberge, where you’ll feel like you’re at a friend’s European manor. This cozy hotel is decorated in a sophisticated, yet charming English style. The rooms are large and each one has its own unique design. With a serene and immaculately groomed garden, lunchtime barbecue and tranquil pool, you’ll be tempted to spend the entire day here. But don’t. The point of coming to Punta is for the beaches, so do as the locals and beach hop. Visit la playa de los Dedos to see the giant statute of fingers jutting from the sand. Grab your board and ride the waves at Montoya. Frolic with the bronzed beauties at Bikini Beach, which hosts an afternoon party scene.
For great food and a sensational crowd, make reservations at Parador La Huella located on the Playa Brava in José Ignacio. Enjoy a clericó, while dining al fresco on the terrace. With fresh, local ingredients, the food here is simple, but delicious. The hottest clubs change seasonally and there is a thriving private party scene. With this in mind, strike up conversations with your fellow diners and beachgoers to score personal invites.
Shoppers can engage in retail therapy for international and local designs along the Avenida Gorlero and Calle 20 in Punta proper. Ruta 10 in La Barra provides a shopping destination for trendy shops and art galleries.
Return to Hotel L’Auberge for afternoon tea. The tea service includes a twist— delicious waffles served with accoutrements such as dulce de leche, chocolate or honey. Nap before dining at La Bourgogne where food becomes art. Chef Jean Paul Bondoux uses ingredients from his own nearby farm to serve farm-to-table, haute French cuisine. For a feeling of country elegance, dine on the garden patio as you ponder if you’ve entered some portal to Burgundy.
The nightlife begins well after the witching hour and no accessory will be as important as your sunglasses since you’re unlikely to leave any hotspot before dawn. Rub elbows with celebrities at the Tequila Club in La Barra or try to beat the house at Mantra Casino before you begin party hopping until the sun rises. After all, when in BA and the Punta, it’s about living La Vida Dulce.