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Source: Forbes Magazine
By: Ann Abel

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Ever since Buenos Aires began its journey from crash-and-burn economy to southern capital of cool, its top hotels have fallen into two camps: grand palaces with white-glove services in the tony Recoleta neighborhood, and informally intimate hotels in edgier Palermo. Algodon Mansion, which opened in September, manages to merge the best of both.

Its ten suites occupy a 1912 Belle Epoque residence on a quiet street just off Recoleta's main shopping drag. The details are finely wrought: delicately carved moldings, gleaming lapacho floors, book-matched Calacatta marble. The suites start at 515 square feet and have garage-size bathrooms with huge freestanding bathtubs (in most) and showers you could host a small party in. Their vibe is masculine with a gray-and-brown palette and a surfeit of technology, such as the maddening touch-screen panel meant to control the suite's three TVs (one in the bathroom mirror), DVD player, radio, iPod dock, temperature, drapes, lights, and many other things I never got the hang of.

The opening was delayed by several years, during which time the developers (including a former ForbesLife publisher) invested in training. Service hits the sweet spot between practiced and personal. My indefatigable butler spent years working at European hotels but approached me with a friendly ease, chatting about the Seu Jorge music I was listening to while he fixed my flaky Wi-Fi. After a concierge suggested I see a play, other employees asked how I'd liked it.

The restaurant, Chez Nous, is a delightful new contender in BA's competitive culinary scene. Many ingredients come from Algodon's sister property in Mendoza, and young chef Antonio Soriano, who trained in Michelin three-star French kitchens, treats them respectfully, letting flavors shine in dishes that are lighter than the city's typical meaty fare. He has a well-honed sense of presentation and play--a popular dessert is a "planet" with a raspberry core, grapefruit-cream surface, and hard-sugar atmosphere (his blueberry satellites didn't pan out). "I became a chef," he says, "so I could give many people pleasure at once." Along with the rest of the hotel, he succeeds admirably.

$800 - $3,000. 54-11-3530-7777,

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