Buenos Aires is one of the world’s great cities, and after a period of economic turmoil in Argentina, it’s ascendant again. Whit and I spent the final week of our November honeymoon shuttling between BA landmarks, taking in as many diverse cultural, social, and comestible offerings as possible.
The sprawling capital city comprises 13 million people that inhabit dozens of barrios, each of which lends its own distinct flavor to the city’s palette. We stationed ourselves for a couple nights each in Palermo, Recoleta, and San Telmo, and set about exploring the city each day. It was in San Telmo where we found one of BA’s loveliest surprises: a boutique hotel called the Cocker.
Whit initially read about the Cocker in a Condé Nast article; apparently other people read it, too. To our great fortune and complete surprise, we were able to book one of their five suites for consecutive nights only a month before our arrival. It’s a good thing, too, because at the time it was their last remaining availability until May of 2008!
Arriving at the Cocker in the middle of a weekday afternoon, we rang the bell and were soon greeted by Ian, one of the British-expat owners, and Rocco, the faithful, black cocker spaniel for whom the hotel is named. Ian and his partner, Aidan, restored the building from near-total decrepitude a few years ago. The renovation coincided with and contributed to the renaissance of the barrio San Telmo, which has become one of BA’s hottest spots in a short span of time. When you hear people referring to the vibrant tango scene in Buenos Aires, they’re talking about San Telmo.
Our hosts immediately made us feel welcome: Rocco with his hyperkinetic little tail, and Ian by gamely lugging my 400-lb. suitcase up two dozen marble steps with a smile on his face to spite the hernia in his back.
Our suite was long and open, with a cozy double bed nestled at one end and a large “conversation pit” lined with furs and pillows at the other. The expanse of off-white walls was only occasionally interrupted by well-chosen artwork and orchid blooms that spilled over their vase. I must admit I spent the first few minutes in the suite falling repeatedly into the conversation pit, which was rather like being tackled by the world’s largest and gentlest stuffed animal.
After we’d spent a few moments settling into our suite, Ian gave us a tour of the place. Five elegant suites are split among three floors, which gives a greater sense of privacy than you find at other hotels. The terrace level features two stylish suites situated amid a gorgeous, verdant outdoor garden (one of the suites has a private garden as well). You’ll find no better place to relax than here, staring out above the humming city. But before you get comfortable, make sure to find out what time the automatic sprinklers come on…
On the ground floor there is a salon with a grand piano and books stacked higher than you can reach, as well as the dining area where fresh fruit, croissants, coffee, and juices are laid out each morning. After showing us around, Ian sat us down with a hand-drawn map of San Telmo, which was marked with a few recommended restaurants and activities, and rattled off a list of his favorite Argentine wines to try to find.
Whitney remarked that staying at the Cocker was like crashing at your incredibly stylish friends’ house. She nailed it. We were a trifle sad to leave after the second night, but if we had stayed any longer we might never have left. Rooms at the Cocker range from US$80 to $105 per night, which might be worth it for a tumble in the conversation pit alone.
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