luxe - Faena Hotel + Universe, Buenos Aires
Written by Hunter Holcombe
Perched ideally on the waterfront in swanky Puerto Madero, adjacent to the cobblestoned bohemian tango neighbourhood of San Telmo, the moody and stylishly daring Faena Hotel + Universe serves as a luxe gateway to exploring Buenos Aires – an intoxicating cocktail of European class and Latin vivacity.
As the eclectic offspring of a marriage between fashion entrepreneur Alan Faena and prolific French designer Philippe Starck, the Faena at once evokes the brooding sensuality and romance of the city’s storied tango and wine culture. Housed in a hulking former granary, the Faena recalls Puerto Madero’s industrial past. Inside, however, Starck’s magic wand transforms the building into a blend of subdued refinements and Starckian surrealism.
The lobby hints more at fashion runway, a block-long hall of saturated gold curtains over brick walls and a single path of blood-red carpet. However, no reception desk awaits at the end – personal ‘experience managers’ assigned to each guest handle everything from paperwork to securing seats at the city’s best parilla.
In the 83 rooms, crimson is a recurring theme, coating everything from the opulent Faena Suite’s chandeliers to standard overstuffed leather couches and rich Belle Époque furnishings. Paired with the cherry-wood walls and elegant marble bathrooms, the effect is all Buenos Aires – mercurial, slightly audacious, and entirely seductive.
Tango is not simply an antiquated tradition performed for tourists – it’s actively practised in milongas (social dances) through the city, by young and old. Those with an adventurous streak might seek out a neighbourhood milonga for a taste of common-man tango. But to witness professionals transform the dance into a highly-skilled work of art, catch a dinner show at the several high-end venues located downtown. In fact, the Faena’s own tango show is one of the best, housed in its refined 120-seat El Cabaret theatre
Boasting one of the world’s top soccer teams, Argentina’s matches are a must-see. While a whopping 24 teams hail from Buenos Aires, most visitors go to see the renowned Boca Juniors, which claims many of the Argentine team’s best players. You may even catch a glimpse of Diego Maradona, the former superstar and current controversial coach of Argentina; as a former Boca player, he attends matches regularly. Boca fans are a rowdy bunch, so it’s best to book with vendors who guarantee good seats and transportation. Your personal Experience Manager at the Faena is your best bet.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Faena Hotel + Universe