Unique Lodging in Argentina
Argentina is well served by hotels in popular tourist destinations such as Buenos Aires, Puerto Iguazú (for the Iguazú Falls), Mendoza, and Patagonia. With Argentina's expansive countryside and wilderness, though, it's no surprise that remote rural areas have their own unique types of accommodation.
The first and most distinctive of these is the ranch, known as an estancia in Argentina. These are nearly always working farms with extensive lands offering middle- or top-end accommodation, often synonymous with the country's entrenched gaucho (cowboy) culture and the most traditional and quintessential places to stay for a peek into the rural way of life. The second type is the wilderness lodge: also middle- or top-end accommodation in the wilder parts of Argentina.
Boutique Sleeps in Buenos Aires
From the word go when you touch down in Argentina's capital city, there is no reason not to be adventurous with your accommodation. Stay in the Faena Buenos Aires, a huge former industrial warehouse now lovingly restored into one of the city's latest boutique offerings. The most interesting thing about a stay here is that care has been taken to preserve many of the warehouse features, such as exposed brick walls and industrial-style lighting—although there are plenty of sumptuous retro touches, such as red velvet drapes and period furniture.
Jungle Lodges Near World-Famous Falls
True, the Amazon rainforest is not in Argentina: but it surprises many people to know that in fact, much of the northern province of Misiones, including the area around its blockbuster tourist attraction Iguazú Falls, is jungle. Close to the falls and on the edge of Iguazú National Park is the luxury lodge La Cantera, where boutique rooms benefit from room service, exclusively made toiletries, wifi, individual jungle viewing platforms, and a lovely pool—very different from traditional back-to-basics jungle accommodation. Activities, besides viewing the world's biggest set of cascades, include interpretive walks in the forested grounds and guided mountain bike tours.
Stay on an Estancia: Traditional Countryside Accommodation
The estancia is an emblem of the Argentine countryside, most associated with the low-lying fertile plains in the center. The history of the estancia is synonymous with the history of livestock raising in Argentina—and the gauchos that work the farms and herd the cattle are equally a part of Argentine tradition. Estancias are invariably in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but empty fields, valleys, and hills around. Besides their gorgeous locations they also offer guests a rare insight to connect with the rural community.
The land around Córdoba, in north-central Argentina, is considered estancia heartland: it was here that Che Guevara himself lived on an estancia for a time. One of the best and most authentic estancias in this region is Estancia Los Potreros, where you can stay in a traditional white-walled, terracotta roofed building, ride horses, and feast on fabulous food and drink.
Staying on an estancia is almost always a fascinating history lesson, as the properties date back centuries, and none more so than the picturesque Estancia Harberton on the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego. The estancia was founded in the 1880s by Thomas Bridges, the man credited with transcribing the language of the soon-to-be-extinct indigenous Fuegian people. You can stay here (with rates including dinner and breakfast) in the old converted shepherd's house by the bay, tour the property, and visit the working biology museum. Guests can arrive by road or by sea.
Wake Up on a Vineyard in Mendoza
Argentina's wonderful wine has been gaining prominence and prestige over recent years, and the country's viticulture center is undoubtedly Mendoza, with around 1500 vineyards thought to be in operation around this flourishing city in the shadow of the Andes. Not content with offering just wine, the region has grown experimental with the experiences it offers visitors.
The boutique spa of Cavas Wine Lodge offers a lavish selection of rooms and apartments amidst vineyards in Alto Alegro near Mendoza, as well as crushed Malbec scrub amongst its treatments. Entre Cielos is another luxury resort and spa, and a candidate for Argentina's leading boutique hotel, where rooms are specially designed to maximize views of the vineyards that encircle the property.
Spend Time in a Lake District Resort
It is a testament to the high caliber of Argentina's scenery that the beautiful Lake District, covered with glaciated lakes and forests and backed by the southern Andes mountains, is not the most visited part of the country. The main town of Bariloche, styling itself as a mini-Switzerland thanks to the Swiss immigrants that arrived in the 19th century, is nevertheless immensely popular and almost cookie tin pretty with its Alpine houses and wild setting.
Nowhere is this resort region more luxurious than the Llao Llao Resort, Golf & Spa, where over 250 lavishly appointed rooms and suites are set amidst acres of wood-dotted grounds alongside Laguna Nahuel Huapi. A member of the Leading Hotels of the World, it has five restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, an infinity pool, spa, health club, and sauna.
Connect with Mother Nature in Patagonia
Few landscapes on Earth are more hypnotic than Patagonia, with nature here at its rawest and most rugged. It makes sense, then, to stay somewhere where you can appreciate the view. There is no better contact with nature (aside from sleeping out in a tent or under the stars) than the sleeping experience at Patagonia Eco Domes where you stay in solar-powered domes right at the foot of Mount Fitzroy. The dining area has triangular glass panes reaching to the ceiling to give some of the most sensational views of the Patagonian mountains possible.