The Palacio Duhau, as GirlAhead aficionados will already know, was built as a private city residence, for the Buenos Aires-based Duhau family, in 1934. In 2006, it opened as the 188-room luxury Park Hyatt Buenos Aires hotel.
The gal could not wait for a final check, to look back up at the Palacio from the 17-floor ‘new block’ (last time she stayed in the Palacio but this view, looking up, is honestly the best).
All the tower, new-block, rooms are great, sleek lines, lovely wood, pull back a screen to bring the bathtub ‘into’ the bedroom. This is the kind of wow that makes people sit up, and admire. So, with a friend, we sit out on the terrace of the tower, facing the Palacio.
As the evening light fades, illumination appears, theatrically, on the Palacio itself. Down at the new-build tower block, you have, if you are sensible, already booked an outside table at Gioia, the Italian restaurant that runs from before 0700 through to at least midnight.
Tables, whenever, are neatly set, and you are bought a grapefruit-sized bread roll, to dip into the extra virgin olive oil by your side plate. As the evening progresses the light on the Palacio changes, son et lumière at its best.
I think of other outside eating venues with a diagonal, if not vertical, backcloth. Would Mena House Oberoi and the Pyramids come into the competition, or a table on the rooftop terrace at Paris’ Hotel Raphael (with the Eiffel Tower)? I think a room terrace at Park Hyatt Sydney, looking over at the Opera House, would fit. At Hotel de Russie, in Rome, you look across at a near-vertical garden.
I drink a glass of Luigi Bosca De Sangre 2010 and chef Pedro Tassarolo, who learned from his granny, comes out to discuss food. The evening progresses, and the lights dim, with the theatrical set that is the real backcloth of Palacio Duhau becoming more dramatic by the minute.
Pedro Tassarolo returns, to relate, with eyes shining, the story of last New Year’s Eve. The entire indoor-outdoor dining areas of the hotel were able to accommodate a total of 200. A professional tango troupe gave lessons, presumably most tried to show off just a little?
Roughly half the total were out-of-town visitors, the rest were locals. Everyone had a splendid time, as I did tonight, kicking off with Pedro Tassarolo’s amuse, baby burrata and tiniest tomatoes that he had personally peeled, and put with garlic flakes.
This led to the famed and fabulous antipasti bar. I am hungry. Earlier, I had headed for the indoor pool, a silent do-your-laps pool about 80 feet long. It is essential, in any South American ‘world city’, to look your best (Brazil has just become second global market, after the USA, for total spend in beauty products, a category which does not include botox, facelifts or liposuction). A high proportion of locals here in this fabulous Buenos Aires hotel are wearing skin-tight, and not-a-mark-in-sight, white jeans.
You see them, Argentinian women of all ages. I do not have white jeans with me, alas (my English Patient shorts must suffice as I tour Palacio Duhau, which architect Léon Dourge designed, in French empire style, way back in 1934). Today there are Ingo Maurer and Murano chandeliers around. Every room of the original Palacio has been treated with tender loving care.
The former living rooms, from the era when it was the Duhau family’s private house, are now the all-day Los Salones del Piano Nobile. You can sit out on the terrace or inside, in richly panelled rooms with pastiches, one of which is Masonic heraldry. Local A-listers, usually men, come to the Salones as if to their own home. They work and relax here, and use infrastructure support.
Oh, if this could only go on forever but a plane awaits. As I gather my few paltry belongings and once again neatly fill the trusty Porsche Rimowa suitcase, a full guard of honour of the luxury hotel’s culinary team has emerged, with people from sales and marketing facing them, ten yards away.
What can this mean, this personalised farewell? Am I really leaving beautiful, beautiful Buenos Aires? Where do I go next?