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Neighborhood Spotlight: Retiro, Buenos Aires

Architecturally an extension of refined Recoleta, the smaller barrio of Retiro lies just to the east, most of it cloistered beyond the gaping Avenida 9 de Julio. Hemmed by the epic boulevard on one side and the Retiro railway terminus on another, this wedge-shaped neighborhood of palaces and parks can feel a bit like an island, especially for pedestrians. Here are some of our favorite reasons to brave fourteen lanes of traffic.

Arroyo Hotel

The bright minimalism and contemporary geometry of its common spaces may seem worthy of a Scandinavian design magazine, but there’s no shortage of local color at Arroyo Hotel, whose skylit atrium has two centerpieces: a parrilla-shaped open fireplace done in smooth, sleek stone and an exuberant statement mural by BA-based painter Eloísa Ballivian. Custom wallpaper carries the lobby’s botanical motifs into the guest rooms and suites, which otherwise combine simple layouts and quieter palettes. Though the family-owned property is located mere blocks from the five-star grandes dames on Avenida Alvear, rates here start at US $80.

Suipacha 1359; +54 11 5276-7700

Barrio Cafetero

Buenos Aires has always celebrated its bares notables—historic cafés whose soaring ceilings, tuxedoed servers and elegant grannies seem rooted in a bygone belle époque, when the country’s vanguard writers and thinkers communed at their tables. But somehow, despite the city’s storied café culture, until recently it was almost impossible to find serious coffee here, let alone latte art. Behind a maverick espresso counter on arterial Calle Florida, where Retiro gives way to corporate, clamorous Microcentro, barista Rodrigo Rochas is revolutionizing the way Porteño commuters caffeinate.

Florida 833; +54 11 4313-5669

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