SLS Puerto Madero, Ennismore’s debut property in South America, is in the upmarket barrio of Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires’ former docklands waterfront district, which has undergone major redevelopment. With residential high-rises and converted old redbrick warehouses that are smart restaurants, boutiques and hotels, all the streets are named after women; and great architects like Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava and Philippe Starck have all left their mark on its rebirth.
With such a wealth of design it came as no surprise to find that art features strongly in SLS Puerto Madero. The sleek lobby has various pieces, but the most striking is an installation by contemporary local artist Eugenio Cuttica of all-white girls standing on white chairs, that sweeps up the wall to the ceiling, and there are art and fashion books on the small tables beside a comfortable couch. The friendly front-desk staff dress in casual black suits and sportswear, liaise as doormen and bellboys, and also provide concierge services.
Walking around we were taken by the intimate feeling, and we liked the contrasting light and dark palette of colors chosen by Italian designer and architect Piero Lissoni, and the corridors to the guestrooms, which are uniformly black. The building is a high-rise, but at just 10 floors it seemed compact compared to others in the neighborhood. Sales and Marketing Manager Alejandro Virto (+54-115-353-5354; [email protected]) took us up to the top floor for a sneak peek of the large terrace that will be a rooftop bar and has great views over the old dock reservoirs, silos and cranes.
The 58 guestrooms, include Superiors, measuring 430 to 506 square feet, and the Deluxes, measuring between 656 and 678 square feet. They all have king beds — there are no twins and there are no connecting rooms—and it is possible to add an extra bed or a crib. With glowing wood flooring and floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, they have low couches and microwaves, and in some, the TVs are discreetly concealed behind wall fittings. They all have furnished balconies, which are extra-large for the Deluxes, with views that are either over the docklands and towards the city, which is also the best for the sunset, or over the swimming pool and a quiet residential street. There are also handicapped access rooms and a stair-lift in the garden pool area.
In the gardens, there are interesting art pieces, including a large grey duck, like the yellow plastic kind usually found floating in bathtubs. Alejandro Virto told us it is about to get a new paint job, but the color had still to be decided. He also said that both children and pets are welcome in the hotel, and that the nearby city airport Aeroparque Jorge Newbery takes private jets in addition to serving domestic and regional flights.
There is a large comfortable library-style room on the mezzanine, which is perfect for relaxing or for smart working, and the pool area has loungers and comfortable seating on the spacious sundeck. For deep relaxation, our choice was the Ciel Spa (+54-115-353-5354; [email protected]), which has a sauna, a gym and three treatment rooms, of which one is for couples. The spa menu has a range of massages and body treatments that use the Yonka and Idraet skincare brands. The signature treatment is the Peeling and Shine Mask, and bookings are taken in advance.
We liked the plush banquette seating along one side of the bright and modern Leyna Restaurant, which has the feel of an elegant family dining room. The breakfast menu covers all tastes. Lunch and dinner have organic and vegetarian choices as well as ceviche and sashimi with a Japanese flair, pasta and fish. Our choice was the signature Empanada de Ossobuco, a pastry turnover filled with tenderest beef, and the menu has a full range of wood-flamed Argentinian cuts. From tomahawk to T-bone and tenderloin, to the delicious bife de chorizo skirt steak, and the marbled picana rump, they are best enjoyed with oven-grilled vegetables, spicy herb and garlic chimichurri sauce and a glass of Malbec from the extensive wine list.
Maria Jose Acevedo (+54-11 5-353-5354; [email protected]), the front desk manager, suggests the Cabaña Las Lilas as another excellent dining choice. She says that she and her team can arrange personal shoppers, and that the nearby Patio Bullrich mall is the place to go for upmarket retail therapy. They also handle transfers, advise on out-of-town trips, such as to an estancia to experience a day with gaucho cowboys, and can also organize helicopter tours over the city and visits to private ateliers like the studio of artist Eugenio Cuttica.
San Telmo, Buenos Aires’ old bohemian district is not far. Its Sunday market, packed with stalls selling antiques, leather goods and handcrafts, is not to be missed.
Also worth visiting is the Fundaçion Kirchner in the former Beaux-Arts post office (the entrance is free). It has floors of interesting exhibitions and, nestled in its core, a massive futuristic metal pod that is home to the Argentine National Orchestra. But the city’s iconic temple of culture is the Teatro Colon, right beside the central Obelisk. Maria Jose Acevedo’s front desk team can make reservations for the daily English-language tours of this old opera house, and also book a private box for performances. They will also get tickets for a tango show, which is another must for visitors. We enjoyed the Tango Porteño in an old theater next to the Teatro Colon, which has nightly shows with great dancing and a three-course dinner.