San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
3 nights paid cash (use Xoom to get the “blue market” rate 8.2 Argentine Pesos per 1 USD instead of official 5.2 Argentine Pesos per 1 USD rate).
Top Floor “Penthouse”
Hostel Ostinatto is in the heart of the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires. We found this neighborhood to be very charming. Cobblestones, tile, restaurants, hotels, cafes, and lots of local charm. The hostel itself has 50-60 rooms. We were booked many months in advance in their nicest room, the “penthouse”. Most hostel rooms have 2-12 beds that are shared by backpackers with a shared shower. Some hostel rooms are private or semi-private, with a private bathroom. This hostel’s “penthouse”, was a private room, including private balcony, on the 6th floor of the hostel. We had our own private bathroom, and it was the nicest hostel room I have ever had. At the blue market rate, it only set us back about USD60 a night, an exceptional value to be in the heart of the city.
The outside and entrance of hostel Ostinatto, located at 680 on the Avenida Chile in San Telmo. To get into the building, you have to ring a bell where the front-desk employee comes and opens the door for you.
The lobby of the hostel, taken from the check-in desk. There was a couch, sitting area, and up to the left a small set of Internet computers. Even though we arrived at the hostel a bit before noon, our room was ready and they let us check-in early. The front desk staff, a very English fluent Argentine named Carolina, let us know about the activities available that week. The day of arrival, there was an organized group going to a soccer match. For ARS480 they would give you transportation, and unlimited pizza and beer. We strongly considered it, but given the cold, windy weather that arrived in Buenos Aires, and the short notice, we decided not to go. We were told about the free yoga class that would go on the following day, which we quickly but gracefully declined. There was a weekly Asado for Friday night, but we were already Asado’d out from our meat-sweat inducing time in Mendoza. So we didn’t participate in any of the hostel group experiences.
It was winter in Argentina, and the days we were there were a bit cold. Highs in the upper 40s and lows in the mid 30s, with a good bit of cold wind coming up from Antarctica and across the Rio de la Plata into Buenos Aires. Thus, the hostel was very empty and we had the place almost to ourselves.
To get to our room, you had to take an awesome old-school elevator from the 1920s, then go through a locked door, up a flight of stairs, and finally through another locked door into the hostel room, room 60.
Standard if only marginally-worn room amenities. The sheets, blankets, and two towels were provided by the hostel. Generally, the room was comfortable enough and clean. If I had any one niggle, it was that the two pillows offered were quite thin.
There was a kitchenette with refrigerator and microwave, which we didn’t end up using. In a hostel, a private fridge and microwave are quite the luxury.
The bathroom exceeded expectations. A full rain shower with jets, decent tile, and strong, hot water pressure was much appreciated after walking around the city all day. The toilet came with a bidet which we thought was kind of gross. Luckily the regular flush handle on the toilet worked fine without having to activate the bidet.
For a hostel, this was a freakin’ impressive view.
The private balcony was also a really nice touch. Regrettably, the weather was too cold to enjoy the balcony, but it was nice having the full glass windows to let in the sunshine and the view.
We spent three awesome days and nights touring Buenos Aires beautiful neighborhoods and nightlife. I don’t know what it is, but I really liked Buenos Aires. It had the feel of Paris’s arridismonts, mixed with the Big City feel of Chicago. Each neighborhood had its own charm, like Lincoln Park in Chicago, SoHo in New York, or even Servette in Geneva. I have to say, that this is probably my favorite Latin large city I have visited to date. And while I haven’t seen that many, I have been to Barcelona, Malaga, Mexico City, Panama City, Belize City, Lima, Santiago, and Valparaiso. Buenos Aires takes the cake. This is truly a world class city of friendly people, great culture, and endless things to do. I hope to make it back to Buenos Aires again one day.
I will also gush about the hostel. Our room was definitely the nicest hostel room I have ever had. Ostinatto provided very reasonable priced drinks and services (think $1.25 massive bottles of water, $1.50 beers, $2.50 laundry service). The desk staff was so attentive, and always happy to help point us in the right direction to the right sights. It was safe, quiet, and comfortable. Now that I have outgrown my party animal days a bit, the dozens of backpackers, and the fraternizing that goes along with them, was not missed on this stay. There was standard backpacker fare for breakfast, which we opted to skip for more substantial food for our daily sightseeing. I would highly recommend Ostinatto, and particularly the penthouse room, for excellent value for money and a unique lodging experience in San Telmo/Buenos Aires.