Month: September 2017

Ratnagiri: An Indian Hidden Paradise

Located 335 kilometres from Mumbai, Ratnagiri has hills on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other. Close to town, there are undisturbed and underrated beaches such as Velas, Diveagar, and Guhagar that offer an insight into the Konkan lifestyle.

DO

► Home to the famous Alphonso mango, Ratnagiri is the perfect spot if you want to indulge in mango picking, and of course, eat them fresh from the tree.

► Try Konkan-style fish curry and balance its spicy flavours with sol kadi, a pink-coloured drink. Local snacks such as ambapoli and phanaspoli are must-try.

Ratnagiri

STAY

► Blue Ocean Resort & Spa offers a classic beach resort experience with comfortable rooms.

► Set amidst coconut and mango plantations, Atithi Parinay Homestay is an example of Indian hospitality. Stay here for its traditional food and outstanding location.

Diu Has Wonderfully Uncrowded Beaches & Delicious Food

An erstwhile Portuguese territory, Diu is connected by a lattice of bridges and ferries to Gujarat on the mainland. It has a distinct Mediterranean-meets-Kutch look where houses are painted sunshine yellow, creamy white and powder blue under a scorching sun and clear sky. With a Union Territory status, it is a refuge for travellers to get a real drink as its neighbour is a dry state. Some call it Little Goa, and some call it Gujarat’s Ibiza. But it’s actually a charming and quiet island with clean beaches and delicious food. Wander at the old Portuguese churches and dine on fabulous seafood including rockfish, calamari and prawns.

 Azzaro Resort and Spa

Azzaro Resort and Spa

DO

► Rent a bike and drive to the quiet beaches of Goghla or Ngao and explore the Naida Caves.

► Plan a day trip to the Gir National Park to spot the endangered Asiatic lion from an open-roof jeep.

STAY

► Azzaro Resort and Spa offers 40 rooms and suites, a bar, and a spa.

► Close to the Gir National Park, The Fern is an eco-friendly resort with two restaurants, a spa, and simply decorated cottages and villas that bring you closer to nature.

The Impressive Life Of A Safari Guide

At least 30 per cent of safari-guide training is about learning to evade death and acute suffering, both for I you and your guests. Encounter the Mozambique spitting cobra, for instance, as I did in our camp kitchen one morning, and you risk being hit by a shot of venom that can blind you from eight feet away.

Once you’ve got a grip on how to avoid this and countless other potentially lethal species, the process is exhilarating, and at times extremely challenging— something I discovered during a stint at Eco Training, a professional guide school near South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Over four weeks, the school’s instructors taught me and 18 other aspiring guides to identify 90 bird calls, 12 frog calls, and 60 trees. We learned to locate the constellations, dug around in different types of soil, and squished a whole lot of dung between our fingers.

safari

We were taught a trick called ‘kudu ears,’ which involves cupping your ears to mimic the giant-eared antelope. This allowed us to catch the faint rumble of an elephant in a thicket, and save our guests from being trampled. Within days, we were looking in entirely new ways at the bush, the tracks, the scat, scanning the mall with the beady eye of an African fish eagle. Then we came to the important stuff, like how to keep guests entertained when you’ve seen nothing but impalas for the past hour. “Know your arthropods,” advised David Havemann, our stern South African instructor, who could spin the life cycle of a fig wasp into a drama worthy of Game of Thrones.

But for many of us would-be guides, the biggest challenge was graduating from the obsession with the Big Five most people arrive on safari with. Our goal? To have guests feel as inspired by insects, birds, and grass as by a group of playful lion cubs, and leave the bush, as I did, overcome by the profound, symbiotic beauty of it all.

tiblisi-featured

An Endless Weekend in Tbilisi

Located at the heart of the Caucasus mountains, Georgia’s colourful capital is brimming with culture

Marvel at the architectural mash-up of East meets West that defines Old Town

tbilisi

Tblisi old Town

European, Russian, Asian and Middle Eastern influences intertwine among narrow winding streets, crumbling arches and hidden courtyards. While Tbilisi’s Old Town evokes images of faded grandeur, this enchanting hillside community and UNESCO World Heritage site is a riot of colour from its blue painted wooden balconies to the terracotta rooftops.

Enjoy an elevated perspective of the city

narikala-fortress-georgia

Narikala Fortress

     

Narikala, the 4th-century ’Mother Fortress of Tbilisi’ has dominated and defended the city since it was founded. Overlooking the Mtkarvi River, take the 1,500-metre- long tourist trail that has stunning views at every turn. The vista is especially charming after dark due to the city lights twinkling far below. For the easy way out, take the aerial tramway back down.

Get closer to nature at the National Botanical Garden of Georgia

National Botanical Garden of Georgia

An aerial view of National Botanical Garden of Georgia

Nestled in the city foothills, the 300-year old gardens are a showcase for more than 4,500 species of flora from the Caucasus region and as far afield as Japan and Siberia. Take your time wandering through the fragrant gardens and forested slopes before taking a bracing dip in its picture- perfect waterfall.

No trip to Tbilisi is complete without a visit to the Dry Bridge Bazaar.

dry-bridge-bazaar-1

Dry Bridge Bazaar – Tbilisi

This vibrant local market is a great spot to spend an hour or so with a captivating collection of jewellery, antiques and bric-a-brac on display. Following independence from the USSR in 1991, this is where cash-strapped Tbilisi residents would come to sell their prized possessions. In a reversal of fortune, today it is the haunt of entrepreneurial local traders selling to tourists. Open daily, weather permitting, be prepared to haggle for a bargain.
Follow your nose to Tbilisi’s famed sulphur baths for a skin-softening soak.
Favoured by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and French author Alexandre Dumas, the city’s legendary baths are a novel way to feel rejuvenated. Located in Abanotubani, on the edge of Old Town, and topped by distinctive dome-shaped roofs, the oldest bathhouse has been around for over 300 years. Follow your nose through the narrow alleyways to building number five, for a hammam-style session. More modest bathers can opt for a private room and menu of therapeutic treatments.

For a taste of authentic Georgian cuisine, head to Sakhli 11

Chakapuli dish

Chakapuli dish

In a city filled with endless dining opportunities, Sakhli N11, which is a short walk from Freedom Square, welcomes visitors as if they were family. The menu may be a bit more expensive then other Georgian restaurants, but is worth every lari. Try the Chakapuli – a heartwarming stew made with lamb and herbs, or go for fried local trout and traditional honey cake.

ASK A LOCAL:
“A trip on the restored funicular railway to the top of Mount Mtatsminda is a favourite summer activity for visitors, due to the amazing views from the Funicular Restaurant terrace. Get to know the locals and you may be invited to join a traditional Georgian feast (Supra) with singing and folk dancing.”
Otar Bakhtadze, concierge, Radisson Blu Iveria

Did you know?

If you feel like taking a sneak peek inside one of the city’s grandiose old apartment blocks, don’t forget to carry some small coins. Why? Step inside the elevator and you’ll spy a small box next to the button panel. Unless you slot some coins into the box, you’ll stay stuck on the ground floor. Trips cost around Dhs1.

WHERE TO STAY

RADISSON BLU IVERIA

radisson blu iveria hotel tbilisi
Located In the heart of Tbilisi, this luxury hotel has a glass facade offering amazing Mtvari River views. Suites feature traditional Georgian design touches and the intriguingly named Andropov’s Ears restaurant is a seafood hotspot.

lapita-dubai

Escape to the South Pacific

Polynesian luxury meets fast-paced family fun at the action-packed Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts

The perfect base from which to explore the rides and attractions at the adjacent theme parks, Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts, offers signature Autograph Collection Hotels luxury with a relaxed Pacific Island ambience. A one-of- a-kind destination for family adventure!

lapita-hotel-lobby

Lapita Hotel lobby

Inspired by Polynesia’s tropical landscapes and its traditional wood artistry, guests enter an exotic world where wafting overhead fans, fragrant gardenia blossoms, lagoon-style pools and a vibrant palette of contemporary tiki design add life and character to every corner of the hotel.

Relax on the shaded balcony of one of the 504 guest rooms after a busy day of discovering the thrills and spills at Dubai Parks and Resorts – an awe-inspiring theme park destination comprising MOTIONGATE™ Dubai, LEGOLAND® Dubai, LEGOLAND® Water Park and Bollywood Parks™ Dubai – offering plenty of fun for visitors of all ages.

Comfort and flair are the hallmarks of the spacious Family Suites, which come with a separate dining area and living room, with captivating views of the resort, lagoon or river. Make sure to schedule in some downtime and float along the hotel’s lazy river or take five and retreat to a sun lounger at any one of two outdoor lagoon- style pools.

Younger guests are kept entertained at the Luna & Nova Kids and Teens Club, leaving parents free to indulge in a spot of pampering at Ola spa, where the menu of island-themed treatments is designed especially for footsore travellers and those looking to unwind.

A culinary showcase awaits diners with a taste for gourmet experiences, from contemporary Cantonese excellence at Llikina, to delicious international flavours at Kalea, poolside Mediterranean seafood at Ari and casual bites in the Palama lobby lounge.

Fast becoming a foodie destination in the city, the highlight of the hotel’s epicurean calendar is the Friday Hikina Brunch. Feel the weekend vibes come alive with an abundant Cantonese buffet including fresh, homemade dim sum, numerous live stations and Hikina’s refreshing ais kacang – the perfect summer treat composed of fruit compote and syrups served over crushed ice.

End your day at Lani rooftop lounge where innovative drinks and a Polynesian tapas menu come a close second to the spellbinding views of the theme parks and beyond.

Discover The New Safaris That Are More About Getting Involved

For a long time, going on safari basically meant one thing: observing wildlife from the inside of a jeep. These days, however, discerning travellers want to go deeper. Instead of being told about the animals, and efforts to conserve them, they want to participate—whether spending the day with an anti-poaching unit or taking part in arhino-relocation mission.

Malawi Safari

Malawi Safari

According to Michael Lorentz, of safari specialist Passage to Africa, the itinerary of the future is driven by experience, rather than by creature comforts. “It has become about what you did, the people you met who are making a difference,” Lorentz said, noting many guests want privileged access to one-off conservation missions, such as witnessing African Parks’ translocation of elephants in Malawi. Even first- timers booking safaris to iconic parks in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, and Zimbabwe are demanding a more meaningful experience, according to Karen Zulauf of safari outfitter Deeper Africa.

Gonarezhou National Park

Gonarezhou National Park

A typical Deeper Africa trip to Zimbabwe, for example, would be led by some of the country’s most prominent conservationists, such as Mark Brightman of the Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit, and include an afternoon with the Shangaan people, former hunter-gatherers now at the forefront of community conservation in Gonarezhou National Park. As Zulauf put it, “Connecting our guests with the right people and projects reframes the way they view Africa, and the way they present it to others.”

Arijiju: A Remarkable Private Villa Rental

You won’t know you’re nearing Arijiju until yon have already arrived. The house is built into the Laikipia foothills north of Mount Kenya, its grass-covered roof and rough stone walls making it appear, from afar, like part of the landscape. The effect is one of inevitability—as if the property were always meant to be there.

arijiju-retreat

Most visitors come to Kenya for the wildlife, and the 32,000-acre Borana Conservancy surrounding Arijiju teems with all manner of creatures. But, unlike most safari properties, this lodge feels like a destination in itself. Built as a vacation retreat by a Londoner with African roots, it’s now available for exclusive-use rental. The 14-person staff, which includes butlers, chefs, and a masseuse, is warm and attentive, lighting crackling fires at bedtime and delivering coffee to your room when you wake. That human touch gives the five-bedroom property an intimate, homey feel, like a fabulous friend’s personal retreat.

Beyond the occasional campaign-style piece, Arijiju has none of the typical safari-lodge trappings—no Masai prints or mosquito-netted beds, and the only thatched roofs are those of the outbuildings. Instead, relaxed luxury reigns: rugs are layered on the hardwood floors, and linen sofas are draped with rabbit-fur throws guests can use to ward off the evening chill. The decor takes more inspiration from India and Morocco than from Kenya, yet everything about the house is in keeping with the spirit of Laikipia. That’s in large part because Arijiju puts all eyes on the landscape that surrounds it. Massive glass doors overlook a forest of acacia and African olive trees, and beyond the elevated terrace, the grounds are open to the wilds. Baboons scratch at the earth a few yards from the breakfast table. In dry stretches, giraffes and elephants come to drink from the pool.

arijiju-retreat

There are game drives, of course, and you can see it all—even rarer animals like Grevy’s zebras and both black and white rhinos are flourishing in Borana and neighbouring Lewa. But on the slim chance your favourite animal should elude you, any disappointment will be quelled the moment Arijiju’s flickering lanterns announce your arrival home.

thames-river

A Story Told Along Thames River Will Always Be Wonderful

Brunel’s railway bridge, its brick arches reflected in the river, was doing its best to blend in with the water meadows just south of Goring-on-Thames. Coots were nesting on it as I passed under it one early- summer morning. Saplings sprouted from its piers. Bushes peeped over its parapet. But the camouflage couldn’t conceal the railway that Isambard Kingdom Brunel built it for, back in 1838.

Brunel’s railway bridge

Brunel’s railway bridge

I emerged into sunshine to see a train hurtle across the top, intruding on my parallel universe. As suited passengers prepared for meetings in the Big Smoke just 45 minutes away, here I was beginning another day in a drowsy backwater, immersed in fields of sage-scented purple knapweed. My approach to the capital was a grassy tow path, passing banks of blue forget-me- nots, and my meetings would be with moorhens. Trains on the Great Western Railway might run two or three times faster than when Brunel built his bridges, yet the Thames still flows below at the same pensive pace. I’d lived near its banks for years but never found time, among modern pressures and mundane drudgery, to see its forgotten corners. But, reading aloud a chapter of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows to a young relative one evening, I realised that much of the idyll in his 1908 publication lay virtually on my doorstep. If I took off, how easily might I find his timeless wilderness?

Walk the Thames Path from Oxford to London, and the frantic contemporary world recedes behind a leafy veil. Clocks and schedules fade to changing skies and the slow shift of seasons. Time flows backwards. The river, as it heads for the North Sea, is a water-world of nostalgia: wisteria-hung public houses, with tables among riverside apple trees; unhurried tow paths, where the only sounds are rasping mallards, rain on the reed-framed water, or cuckoos calling over sun-warmed fields. Poets, from Shelley to T S Eliot, were inspired by it; so were painters, among them the mystical Stanley Spencer, as well as novelists such as H G Wells and Jerome K Jerome, whose Three Men in a Boat is a comic masterpiece.

folly-bridge

Boating towards Folly Bridge

On a scudding-cloud morning in early June I set off from Oxford’s Folly Bridge to follow the meandering Thames by boat, on foot and aboard the odd steam train. From this bridge, on mid-Victorian afternoons, maths prof Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) would row Alice Liddell and her sisters, entertaining them with surreal adventure stories that began with a now-famous girl following a white rabbit down a hole. As I stood by a traffic-choked street, 151 years after Alice in Wonderland was published, it was easy to believe London was only an hour away by train. But boarding the Edwardian Lady Ethel, an open-topped, royal-blue craft, I was soon gliding into the past, spotting the long-horned cattle and lacy cow parsley of meadows, Oxford’s ochre spires sliding behind dappled oaks.

Salter’s Steamers was founded by two brothers back when Lewis Carroll was rowing Alice. The same family runs the riverboat company today. I was almost alone on the two-hour trip to the market town of Abingdon, with Tim doing the rope-work, Mark at the helm.

As we drifted by flowering chestnuts and carpets of buttercups, they talked about the boat-lovers who escape to the sanctuary of the water every weekend; about the ‘rich and shameless’ living in the riverside properties; and about the Thames itself, which lashes out now and again at those who try to build too near.

After 18 years working on this stretch of water, Mark, it seemed, had absorbed its calm. ‘When it comes to the Thames,’ he said, gnomically, as we parted by Abingdon Bridge, ‘you either get it, or you don’t’. I recalled his words some hours later, as I rested among blooming hawthorns and stately poplars, looking back down the river’s mazy curves from the grassy ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort. I ate my last pain au raisin (from Abingdon’s Patisserie Pascal), gazing across at Dorchester, a mossy-roofed village with a square-towered abbey church.

Abingdon Bridge

Abingdon Bridge

I’d seen almost nobody on the 14km walk, just weeping willows dipping their long, green tresses in the meditative Thames. Now fork-tailed red kites wheeled over the beech-crowned chalk, dragonflies darted among ox-eye daisies, and I felt myself relax. ‘Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it,’ says Grahame’s Water Rat in his hymn to ‘messing about on the river’.

I was, I felt, ’getting’ the Thames.

But I couldn’t linger, not if I wanted to get a bed before nightfall. The medieval arches and flagstone floors of 12th-century Fyfield Manor lay a good walk east, near Wallingford and the old-fashioned bathtub was just what my sore feet needed. Waking in a building fundamentally unchanged for hundreds of years, with a kingfisher-haunted brook burbling through the garden, I wouldn’t have blinked to see Jerome and friends strolling past in striped blazers, or hear Ratty on the riverbank, singing to the ducks.

boat-bridge

All calm on the river

There was welcome respite for my feet that morning: a nostalgic jaunt on the Cholsey and Wallingford steam railway. The 4km-long branch line didn’t make much downstream progress, but the noisy red and green steam engine was a delight, drawing waving spectators on its cross¬country puff to Cholsey, where Agatha Christie is buried in the churchyard.

Feet reinvigorated, I could feel the river’s reedy calm calling as I hurried along Cholsey’s sycamore-fringed Ferry Lane, back towards the Thames. The tow path soon led to the hamlet of Moulsford and a drink outside the Beetle & Wedge Boathouse, where I watched geese and swans glide on their rippling highway, enjoying the smell of the Beetle’s charcoal barbecue. The Beetle & Wedge is the ‘little riverside inn’ in Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat where George and J stop off on a walk and where the trout on the wall in the bar, which all the locals claim to have caught, turns out to be made of plaster. It’s also H G Wells’s Potwell Inn, where Mr Polly takes a job. Just as Wells described it, the rose-trellised garden runs down to a broad bend in the Thames; and, as the light faded, the river started to resemble Jerome’s imagined watery idyll near the start of the novel, full of sighing rushes and rustling trees.

sardinia

Mysterious Landscapes, Quirky Traditions And Strange Delicious Food in Sardinia

Lunching at Agriturismo Sa Marighedda, a farm restaurant outside Castiadas, in southeast Sardinia, my husband Michael and I couldn’t have been further from the bling of the island’s celebrated, supermodel- draped Costa Smeralda. We’d jumped at the chance to spend a week here, in a house offered by a pair of Sardinian teachers, Giuliana and Mario, and right now we couldn’t have been happier.

The food was no hotel-bland international fare. On Sa Marighedda’s fixed-price menu we had already chewed our way through cured meats, tangy pecorino cheese, olives, grilled aubergines and ‘rustic’ focacce, all brimming with that sunny taste of the Med you can’t replicate back home. Two types of Sardinia’s distinctive pasta in a rich tomato sauce followed: culurgiones, fat oval pillows filled with pecorino, and ridged, trilobite-shaped malloreddus. To wash it down: the local Cannonau red, full of those lovely antioxidants that help the locals live to be 100.

Mirto: A digestive sardinian drink

Mirto: A digestive sardinian drink

Yes, this was Sardinia, the Sardinia we first visited 35 years ago while researching our first travel guides on the western Med: the fantastically old, mysterious island that existed long before Michelin-starred chefs descended and swanky resorts set about colonising the beaches. Somehow we also managed dessert: pardulas (tiny cheese tarts under flurries of powdered sugar) and seadas (warm, fried cheese ravioli oozing arbutus honey). But it was the scent of the mirto, Sardinia’s famous myrtle digestivo, which really evoked memories. ‘Do you remember when we had all this before?’  I asked Michael.

italian-flat-pizza

Tourist serving Traditional Italian flat pizza in a restaurant in Alghero

‘At the shepherds’ feast,’ he said right away, even though it had happened 35 years ago.

“The wild landscapes, vast skies ana simple, stucco ranch style architecture seemed ideal for spaghetti westerns”

The shepherds’ feast was the most magical day of our five-month-long journey. Back then, before Sardinia was a beacon on the package-holiday map, the authentic was all around – you didn’t have to go in search of it. That said, our VIP pass that long-ago day had something to do with the fact that we were travelling with the best accessory you can have in Italy: a cute baby. Doors fall open. Chocolates and bonbons fly out of handbags. People take you in a 4WD to a mountain meadow where you’re the only foreigners, where shepherds slow-roast meat in a pit, as they’ve done since antiquity.

sardinian-sheeps

Where a floppy-hatted male quartet cupped their ears in their hands and burst into uncanny, archaic, cantu a tenore polyphonic song, while our baby was passed around, smothered with kisses and stuffed with tidbits. It felt downright Homeric. Isolated for centuries from the mainland, everything about Sardinia – its cuisine, its language, its festivals and music – seemed older than the rest of Italy.

How much of the island would still be the real deal this time round? We couldn’t help wondering what disappointments might lie ahead, as we set off back to our temporary home in Oristano. Initial signs were promising: kilometres of rugged, primeval Mediterranean terrain, and rustic sheepfolds amid tumbles of granite boulders, parasol pines, olive and lemon groves and vineyards. Cork oaks blushed reddish orange where they’d been stripped of their bark. The wild landscapes, vast skies and simple, stucco ranch-style architecture seemed ideal for spaghetti westerns. I could imagine Clint Eastwood in his poncho and Stetson riding over the hill.

“I always wondered why Sergio Leone didn’t film here,” I said. ‘After all, Sardinia is just a ferry-hop from Rome’s Cinecitta studios.’

“I imagine Spain was cheaper and emptier,” Michael replied. “Besides, it would look odd if there was a shoot-out with a nuraghe in the background.”

We had already passed several of these characteristic single or multi-lobed towers: nothing shouts ‘ancient Sardinia’ like them. After the pyramids, nuraghes, built here and nowhere else from about 1500BC to 500BC, were the tallest megalithic constructions ever created, and a mind-boggling 7,000 of them still dot the landscape, often isolated in dramatic settings.

We were headed for a revisit to the daddy of them all: Su Nuraxi, just outside the village of Barumini. In the distance were the hills that gave the region its name, the Marmilla. In fact, before Su Nuraxi was excavated by the Sardinian archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu in 1949, everyone thought it was just another perky protuberance. Local adults warned it was home to an enormous child-eating fly.

Su Nuraxi

Su Nuraxi

The den of the fly turned out to be the interior of a nuraghe tower, a huge three-storey structure surrounded by a rampart and four other towers. In 3D reconstructions, it looks like a medieval castle surrounded by a dense Hobbit village of round houses.

While elsewhere, on the coast, the holiday crowds would be rolling up their beach towels and heading for happy hour and ambient sounds, we felt wonderfully alone in the island’s historic embrace: we were the only ones there for the 7pm tour, the last of the day, when the rich light played on Su Nuraxi’s colossal basalt boulders.    I had forgotten how complex it was, with narrow passages, stairs and massive corbelled vaults built within the thickness of the walls. As we emerged near the top it was like standing on the shoulders of giants.

Buenos Aires: The Place Where Your Dreams Come True

Hotels

Alvear Art Hotel – At the younger, more casual sister of the famed Alvear Palace—one of Buenos Aires’s most famous hotels—guests can expect a similar level of service in a more relaxed setting. Ask for the sprawling Art Suite on the 15th floor for spectacular views of the Rio de la Plata. If your room doesn’t have river vistas, head to the rooftop swimming pool for some of the best panoramas in town. Artesano, the hotel’s vintage-inspired cocktail bar, has a fantastic drinks list by star mixologist Renato Giovanni.

Alvear-Art-Hotel

Alvear Art Hotel

Faena Hotel – The glamorous Faena hotel set the style benchmark for Buenos Aires when it opened in Puerto Madero in 2004. The Philippe Starck-designed rooms can verge on ostentatious, but guests are guaranteed VIP treatment whether at the hammam or by the pool. Drop by the nearby Faena Art Center to take in impressive rotating exhibits of contemporary art, or book a table for the hotel’s sexy, if pricey, Rojo Tango dinner show. The Library Lounge is a great spot to kick off an evening with cocktails and live music.

Home Hotel – When it opened in 2005, Home Hotel put the Palermo Hollywood neighbourhood on the map, and quickly became the go-to lodging option for cool kids and design aficionados. The carefully curated, Scandinavian-influenced decor includes Florence Knoll furniture and vintage Willi am Morris wallpaper. A small basement spa caters to Long-haul travellers, with jet-lag treatments such as a California massage and hot healing bath. Book the spacious Garden suite for your own splash pool.

Restaurants

Aramburu Restaurant – This bistro, the more relaxed spin-off of chef Gonzalo Aramburu’s celebrated Aram burn restaurant, sits on the cusp of the edgy Constitucion barrio. Starters such as steak tartare with mustard ice-cream are designed for sharing; the succulent lamb chops are a particular highlight. Sommelier Nazareno Gonzalez oversees the wonderful, well-priced wine list. Stick around after dinner for a drink at the new secret basement bar, Under.

Aramburu Restaurant

Aramburu Restaurant

Chori – Choripan, the humble sausage sandwich, is an Argentinean staple, but Chori is the first place to come up with a gourmet version. Not only are the chorizos in this Palermo spot made in-house but the soft buns are several notches above the standard baguette, and sauces go well beyond spicy chimichurri. The team also mixes up the protein, experimenting with fish, black sausage, and venison. Try the regional de cordero, a lamb sausage served with yogurt, red onion, cucumber, and mint.

El Baqueano – By sourcing products from small producers around Argentina, Fernando Rivarola, the chef-owner of EL Baqueano (the name translates to “the gatherer”), has created a wholly unique tasting menu. There’s a story behind every ingredient, like the Andean new potatoes grown 9,000 feet above sea level, or the sustainably sourced pacu river fish in the clever dish called “falso bife de chorizo”—or fake steak.

El-Baqueano

El Baqueano

El Preferido – Literary icon Jorge Luis Borges grew up on the same block as this pink-hued bar and store, which was one of his haunts. El Preferido is an old-school neighbourhood bodega, where hanging hams and stacked cans of hearts of palm are integral to the vibe. Come here for a cortado or early-evening tapas such as braised tongue.

Bars

BeBop Club – Head to this cool basement club for jazz, blues, funk, soul, and pop. Founded by noted sommelier Aldo Graziani, BeBop is located underneath his restaurant and wine bar, Aldo’s Restoran Vinoteca. Open six days a week, it hosts local and international musicians. Reserve a round table and dance to the rhythms before ordering some tapas or a burger.

BeBop Club

BeBop Club

Blanca Encalada – Though the original location in Almagro is now closed, the Belgrano outpost upholds its legacy as one of the best spots to hear tango music without the distraction of clicking three-inch heels or flashes of bare skin. The band normally starts around 10:30 p.m., playing to a crowd that can spill onto the sidewalk.

Floreria Atlantico – This storefront is a florist and wine store, but after the sun sets, head into the buzzing speakeasy— the entrance is through a refrigerator door. The cocktails are themed geographically, taking inspiration from Argentina’s European immigrant populations. Try the Principe de los Apostoles, a gin and tonic infused with yerba mate.

Floreria Atlantico

Floreria Atlantico

La Catedral – This former warehouse in tango barrio Almagro is rough around the edges— mismatched furniture and basic drinks—but the uneven wooden floor is ideal for learning how to dance the tango, because, unlike many other Buenos Aires bars, regulars here often invite visitors and amateurs to dance.