If you’re looking for a hotel in Buenos Aires that combines elegance and tradition with a modern touch and a fantastic location, then Esplendor Hotel (770 San Martin Street) is for you.
The original building
There’s always been a hotel in this location. The old Hotel Phoenix was built in 1889 by the same investors who built the local branch of Le Bon Marché department store. Although the hotel was built in the same block, it is separate from the department store.
The Phoenix was famous for its restaurant, called Alexandra in honour of the English queen, and was known as the “hotel de los ingleses” because most of the guests were British.
The Phoenix was an avant-garde hotel. The spacious rooms had a private bathroom and a sitting room, ideal for extended stays after a long sea voyage.
Location, location, location
Esplendor Buenos Aires is in the heart of the Retiro neighbourhood and a stone’s throw away from the Microcentro area, the financial and administrative centre of the country. Although we mostly walked everywhere, we took public transport to go farther afield. The hotel is also very close to the ferry terminal, ideal for a day trip across the River Plate to Colonia, Uruguay.
The hotel today
The old Hotel Phoenix was gutted and renovated in 2005 as a boutique hotel. The Renaissance Revival facade was thoroughly cleaned and a skylight added to let natural light in. The architects tried to keep as many original features as possible, like the 13-foot ceilings, wood door and window frames, balcony tiles, and the columns and iron and majolica fireplace in the restaurant.
We got a room on the first floor (or second, if you’re American), overlooking San Martin Street. We were so close to Avenida Córdoba that I thought that traffic noise would be a problem in the morning. But I was wrong! It was really quiet.
Our room was very large and decorated in black, beige, and sandy tones. It felt elegant, modern and soothing. It had a large desk against a wall, a wonderfully comfortable King-sized bed, a couch, and my favourite feature, a full-length mirror.
Breakfast is served in the basement, where the old restaurant used to be. The large, cavernous room features the original ceilings, columns, and an alcove. There was a bit of everything in the breakfast buffet. Fresh juice, tea, coffee, pastries, facturas, toast, fresh fruit, cheese and deli meats. The medialunas (Argentinean croissants) were to die for!
- The hotel is pet-friendly with an extra US$18 + tax a night. A US$100 cleaning charge applies.
- I loved the daily weather forecast written on a chalkboard near the elevators.
- Free Wi-Fi
- The elevators have signs in Braille script.
- Cribs available upon request.
- Business center.
- Wake-up call service.
- The following services carry an extra charge: room service, newspapers, shuttle, in-room massage and beauty treatments.
- Games room on the mezzanine.
Grupo Mondongo, an art collective, created amazing works of art for Esplendor using unusual materials and techniques. These are portraits of many Argentinean political and popular culture icons, like Eva and Juan Domingo Perón, Maria Elena Walsh (poet, author, and songwriter), Jorge Luis Borges, Che Guevara, Diego Maradona, among others.
What to do near the Esplendor Hotel in Buenos Aires?
Buenos Aires is a vibrant city and there’s a lot to see and do within walking distance from the hotel. Put comfy shoes on and go!
Galerías Pacífico Shopping Mall wraps around the hotel but is not connected to it. The magnificent building was built around the same time as the hotel. Don’t miss the frescos painted under the central dome. Pop in for a bit of shopping, a meal, or people watching.
The Church and Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena is on the opposite end to the hotel on San Martin Street. Pop into the church to admire the main altarpiece from 1776 and the Spanish colonial architecture. Built in 1775, this was the first enclosed convent in the then colony. The cloisters, on the left of the church, are open to the public and there’s a restaurant inside. It’s so peaceful that you forget you’re in the middle of a cement jungle.
Calle Florida is the most famous commercial pedestrian street in the country. You’ll find all kinds of shops and services here. One of my favourites is Librería Ateneo, where I like to go for a browse and a cup of coffee on the top floor.
Plaza San Martin is one of the oldest parks of Buenos Aires. It was the site of a battle between the defending creole forces and the invading English troops in 1807. Take a stroll under the mature trees, admire the sculptures, pay your respects to the soldiers fallen in the 1982 Malvinas war.
Esplendor Hotel is really close to all the bars in the hopping Retiro area, like the traditional Irish pub The Kilkenny (399 Marcelo T de Alvear St.), or Barbaro Bar on 415 Tres Sargentos St.
You can walk down Cordoba Ave. to your right to the converted docks of Puerto Madero, where there are endless choices of bars and restaurants.
If you’re in the mood for a longish walk, stroll up Florida Street all the way to Plaza de Mayo and the Cathedral, the political heart of the country. Don’t forget to look up and admire the monumental architecture! You may catch the changing of the guard at sunset if you’re lucky.
All in all, Esplendor is a great choice of hotel in Buenos Aires if you like stately, old-world elegance in the middle of the action.
We were guests of Esplendor Hotel in Buenos Aires. However, all opinions and images are mine.
Hi, I’m Ana. I’m originally from Argentina but I’m currently living in Dallas (USA) with my British husband. I’d like to share my experiences as an expat and as a traveller.