The Recoleta Neighborhood in Buenos Aires oozes, grace, wealth and splendor. If you are looking to enjoy a little of the refined life that Buenos Aires has to offer, Recoleta is where you need to relax, dine and sleep.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY IN THE MAKING: To cut a very long history short, Recoleta neighborhood was born after the foundation of Buenos Aires in 1580 when Juan de Garay shared out the different areas of the city between the 65 settlers who accompanied him at the time. What’s interesting about Recoleta is that in 1608 it was sold for nothing more than a pair of tongs, a wig and a common winter coat. When we think about the elegance and wealth associated with the neighborhood today, the terms of this sale seem very out of place.
Although, when we investigate further into the history surrounding cholera and yellow fever in the 1870s, all becomes clear. In order to escape the spreading of these diseases, the upper classes moved from the south of the city and began to occupy Recoleta as their own, turning this neighborhood into the wealthy zone that we know it to be today.
These families introduced French inspired buildings to the area and spent a lot of time developing beautiful parks and open spaces, which is why it is one of the prettiest areas of Buenos Aires to walk around in today.
GETTING SITUATED: All the streets that fall inside the zone outlined by Montevideo, Uruguay, Avenida Córdoba, Mario Bravo, Avenida Colonel Diaz, Avenida Las Heras, Tagle, the train lines belonging to the General Mitre Line and Jerónimo Salguero, can be classified as the Recoleta Neighborhood. Therefore, if you want to enjoy beauty and splendor during your stay in Buenos Aires, make sure you find somewhere to stay in this area. A very exclusive boutique hotel in Recoleta for those who really want to be pampered is the Howard Johnson Hotel Boutique Recoleta.
The closest subway line to Recoleta is the D Line (marked as the green line on all the maps), but it is not all that close and doesn’t run after 11pm. The best way to get around is by bus. If you head to Avenida Las Heras, you’ll find a large number of buses which take you in to the centre (the 59 goes to the Obelisk and the 60 goes to the Congress Building) or further out to areas like Belgrano and China Town too (the 60 and 118). Avenida Las Heras is a good place to start where bus routes are concerned for people staying in Recoleta.
A SUGGESTED DAY OF RECOLETA MAGIC:There really is no right or wrong in Buenos Aires. You will enjoy your stay whatever you do, but the following suggestions are a good place to begin if you want a little taster of everything that Recoleta has to offer.
1. Breakfast at CAFE LA BIELA in front of Plaza Francia where you can enjoy the many references to Pop Art from the 60s and 70s on the walls while you digest a traditional croissant and coffee breakfast Argentine breakfast on the cafe’s terrace.
2. Visit the Our Lady of PILAR BASILICA, first opened in 1732 and which stands in Plaza Alvear. Entrance to the church is free, but the Museum Del Pilar Cloisters, even though they charge a small entrance fee, is worth a look. Beautiful architecture and fascinating artifacts await you inside.
3. Enjoy a mid-morning coffee in CAFE VICTORIA at 1865 Presidente Roberto M. Ortiz, and step back in time. Imagine yourself living amongst the rich upper classes of Recoleta in the 1800s.
4. Head to THE RECOLETA CEMETERY. Rather than feeling as though you were in a cemetery, you will get the sensation that you are actually in another miniature city inside Buenos Aires. Designed by French engineer, Prospero Catelin, each tomb is ornate and unique. It is the place of rest for the wealthy and people are still buried there today. One of the most famous tombs belongs to Argentina’s Eva Peron.
5. Lunch at NECTARINE, a beautiful restaurant dedicated to French cuisine and located at 1661 Vicente López, is the place to enjoy your midday meal. Don’t forget… the rich inhabitants of the Recoleta neighborhood were all in favor of bringing France to Buenos Aires via architecture and cuisine. Their wine cellar is particularly good.
6. See if there’s an interesting exhibition at THE RECOLETA CULTURAL CENTER, just a short walk down from the cemetery. It would be rare for you not to find something interesting going on in this space. However, if nothing catches your eye hear, watch a movie at the nearby Recoleta Village Complex and enjoy some down time for a couple of hours.
7. Buy an ICE-CREAM (from anywhere… you can’t go wrong in Buenos Aires… ice-cream is one of the things that Buenos Aires does best) and browse through the market in Plaza Francia in front of The Recoleta Cemetery (the market is there every weekend) and perhaps treat yourself to a hand-made bag or piece of artisanal jewelry.
8. Don’t even think of having dinner until at least 11pm. Argentines eat late and the atmosphere is always better in the restaurants when you are not the only people eating. A really good choice for dinner in Recoleta is BRUT NATURE at 2066 Peña. Here you will find the traditional Argentina steak you have even waiting for.
9. If clubbing is on the menu, head to SHAMPOO at 362 Avenida Presidente Manuel Quintana. However, if you would rather enjoy a drink and a chat in bar, with perhaps a cocktail or two, head to Casabar at 1150 Rodriguez Peña.
GET OFF THE TYPICAL TOURIST TRACK: The final tip about the Recoleta Neighborhood is for people who want to get off of the tourist track for a while. Try a quiet drink one evening in Rodi Bar at 1900 Vicente López and avoid those tourist conversations about where you’ve been and where you’re going to next for a while.