Thursday, October 16, 2008

Moving Day: Adios Palermo, Hola San Telmo

This is a non-food post, but I thought maybe you might want to know where I'm staying during my trip just in case you're inspired to visit Buenos Aires.

For the first part of my trip, I've been at a bed-and-breakfast called La Otra Orilla in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood. The photo above is a view of the garden and behind those white French doors is the dining room where we get breakfast every morning. (The breakfast is very continental, nothing Argentinian, so basically cold cereal, fruit salad, cold cuts with toast and yogurt.)

La Otra was opened by a mother and daughter, but I've only seen the daughter running the place. All the other attendants are young, almost like college students, and they're all very friendly and speak English really well. This place is mentioned in several guidebooks, and I decided to stay here because it was cheap. I got the smallest room called the Lino for only $85 a night (FYI: there's a 21 percent hotel tax that's added when you checkout and the tax is often not quoted in the base price).

The Lino room was old and didn't have a phone, but that was OK because I didn't need to call anyone. It's also by the street and next to the reception area, so you get a lot of street noise as people walk by outside and inside. If you consider La Otra, then ask for the other rooms, which are larger (and of course pricier). It's in a quiet neighborhood, but within walking distance of Palermo Soho, where I found several of the restaurants that came highly recommended.

Today, I switched over to my new hotel, The Axel Hotel in the San Telmo neighborhood. The weekends are so popular in October that La Otra was booked up this weekend, so I couldn't book a continuous stay. But that actually worked out for the better because it gives me a chance to explore another neighborhood. San Telmo is the Bohemian neighborhood that's a bit gritty but the latest in attracting boutique shops and new restaurants. It's also the area for an extremely popular Sunday outdoor antiques fair and market.

So here's my new bed. OK, I have a confession. The Axel Hotel was the inspiration for my trip to Buenos Aires. (You all thought it was the meat, huh?) I stayed at the Axel in Barcelona when I traveled there in 2004. I loved the hotel so much that when they emailed me and announced they were going to open a new hotel in Buenos Aires, the seed was planted.

The Axel is a gay-oriented hotel, although they welcome anyone. So that means they're fashion-forward and hip. It would be considered a boutique hotel, although the high prices make it seem more like a luxury hotel. Since I only needed a hotel for the weekend because I fly home Sunday, I was able to find a weekend special at the Axel where I pay for two nights and get the third night free. (The price averages out to about $148 a night for the City Room, which is the smallest and faces the street, again, more street noise.)

One thing the Axel has that La Otra didn't is a spa, so that means a pool and deck to lay out, which is what I really need right now after days of walking and walking and exploring the city. I need some me time to just relax. I mean, this is a vacation. One of the unique design of the Axel in Buenos Aires is the indoor pool on the fifth floor (there's only 5 floors). The roof is the bottom of the pool, so when you look up from the bottom floors, you see people swimming. Well, no one was swimming when I took this picture, but I was just up there earlier swimming for people to see. :) OK, time to chill because it's another four hours before dinner.

La Otra Orilla, Julian Alvarex 1779, Palermo Viejo, Buenos Aires. PH: (54) 11-4863-7426.

The Axel Hotel, Venezuela 649, San Telmo, Buenos Aires. PH: (54) 11-4393-1975.

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