Faena Hotel & Universe, Argentina
In 2004 Argentine fashion impresario Alan Faena and Philippe Starck joined forces in Buenos Aires to create the Faena Hotel+Universe. They found A former granary called El Porteno in Puerto Madero and created a “universe” of opulence and fantasy. The adventure begins on arrival, one is met by attendants dressed in Edwardian gear, who usher you into El Catedral, a 300 foot long entrance/hallway, with 10 meter high ceilings, a blood red carpet and stained glass. There is no traditional front desk, however an “experience manager” introduces himself and is at ones disposal 24/7. There are 2 restaurants, one a casual cafe, El Mercado, simple wood tables, paint peeling, mis-matched chairs, opulent mirrors, and chandeliers, old china of difference colors and prints and stainless steel fixtures. This room defines Starck’s aesthetic, old and new live together in harmony. Here one can have a delicious breakfast, or on Sundays, they do a great traditional Argentine asado, meat lovers paradise.
El Bistro is the more serious restaurant, chef Mariano CID de la Paz serves his extraordinary food in a white dining room, with red accents. unicorns on the walls, gold gilded chairs, white velvet curtains and the focal point, a huge painting, Old Masters style of Indians at war.
After dinner one can choose either the club, El Cabaret, where one can see the Rojo Tango Show, or local musicians like Charlie Garcia and Fito Paez might show up for impromptu jam sessions; or enjoy an aperitif in the Library Lounge, which houses over 500 works of literature, Chesterfield sofas, chairs covered in Fortuny fabric, Venetian blinds and more velvet curtains.
There is also a La Prarie spa, and a beautiful Hamman, an out door pool area and bar, and a gym. All this minutes away from San Telmo, a historic neighborhood which is also the birthplace of the tango.
The Faena may be pricey, but it’s really more than a place to stay or eat, it’s a journey to another dimension, a fantastic fantasy, a beautiful ride which I feel is worth every peso.