South American Glamour
When the Alvear Palace Hotel opened in 1932, a local newspaper touted it as "the biggest, most sumptuous, and most modern" lodging in town. The new Belle Époque building was indeed splendid, its arched portals and Juliette balconies gracing a prominent corner of Avenida Alvear, the poshest thoroughfare of Buenos Aires. Founder Rafael de Miero, an eminent local businessman, brought back visions of grandeur from his frequent trips to Paris, and made sure they were properly executed at his hotel. Interiors featured elaborate parquetry, crystal chandeliers, marble columns, and handcrafted furnishings inspired by the styles of Louis XIV and Louis XVI. Politicians, Nobel laureates, and socialites attended the inaugural gala, and since then, the hotel has hosted nearly every film star, supermodel, and dignitary visiting the city.
While the property has seen a series of expansions and upgrades over the years, it has never lost its timeless elegance.
While the property has seen a series of expansions and upgrades over the years, it never lost its timeless elegance. In the reception and lobby bar, red velvet bergeres, tumbling damask draperies, and beautifully detailed boiserie take guests back to an era of social curtsies and intellectual salons. Steps away is l’Orangerie, a restaurant where dapper porteños converge for high tea in the afternoons. Behind the main dining room is the space’s pièce de resistance: a glass enclosed winter garden outfitted with a beautiful assortment of potted flowers, antique cane chairs and tables set with silver tea pots and Limoges porcelain cups. A slightly more casual—but no less refined—atmosphere awaits at the newer Alvear Grill, dedicated to Argentina’s famously delicious grass-fed meats.
Old World luxury may be the calling card at this storied destination, declared a national landmark in 2003, but that doesn’t mean the Alvear Palace is stuck in the past. Recent renovations added a high-voltage dose of contemporary style to the building’s 10th and 11th stories—the upper floors—which now house 15 suites with a dedicated lounge, two solariums, a covered pool and a bistro called Alvear Roof Bar. Set on an ample terrace strewn with bistro chairs and string lights, this relaxed perch offers expertly mixed cocktails along with sweeping views of Buenos Aires’ ample boulevards and leafy parks backed by the calm waters of the Rio de la Plata. A similar panorama surrounds the adjacent indoor pool, a sleek, stainless steel-clad oasis where guests can swim laps and order fresh-pressed juices. While these common areas present a bold departure from the hotel’s signature style, the new suites display a balanced combination of modern and period pieces, reinterpreting classic design for the 21st century. Louis XVI armchairs upholstered in subtle graphic patterns stand next to angular mirrored consoles and chromed light fixtures, arranged against a soothing backdrop of ivory-hued wood paneling and matching wool carpeting. Only a handful of the world’s historic hotels have managed to remain vibrant with the passing of time, a task that requires walking the line preservation and reinvention, something the Alvear has done masterfully.