Avenida Alvear 1661, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 5171 1234; hyatt.com).
SOFITEL BUENOS AIRES
This listed Art Deco belle époque hotel was revamped and reopened in 2003 and is situated on one of the city's famous 'half moon' streets, near just about everything worth visiting in Buenos Aires. For those who prefer to stay inside the hotel, there is a gloriously ornate lobby, a Second Empire bar and a library, where you can settle in with a book and an unforgettable cocktail. And as well as grand public spaces, this hotel also houses one of Buenos Aires' finest restaurants, Le Sud, famous for its Provençal classics. £££
Arroyo 841-849, Retiro (00 54 11 4131 0000; sofitel.com).
The Cocker, a five-room guesthouse, is a case study in urban rescue. Britons Ian Spink and Aidan Pass snapped up a grandiose but run-down mansion, restoring its pinotea-wood floors, hand-made, wrought-iron window frames and soaring ceilings with fastidious attention to detail. Renovated antique chairs, sofas, beds and even a Chappell grand piano are displayed with theatrical flourishes in five idiosyncratic rooms: in one, old balustrades now frame a king-size bed, in another a four-poster supports a 'floating' bathroom, and cushions, drapes and metres of muslin transform hidden nooks into intimate dens. The twisting corridors and spiral staircases invite exploration, opening finally to a honeysuckle-draped terrace garden and a commanding rooftop pergola. Book Room 19-03 for its four-poster bed and jasmine-lined terrace. ££
Juan de Garay 458, San Telmo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4362 8451; thecocker.com).
Where to eat out in Buenos Aires
Occupying a fabulously elegant 1920s building in rundown Constitución, you need to ring the bell at the unmarked door before you're escorted into a brightly lit, high-ceilinged space with French windows. The usual suspects are all here - an onion soup laced with port and Gruyère, and duck marinated in orange, Cointreau and brown sugar. Open Tue-Sat.
Santiago del Estero 1435, Constitución, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4305 1701).
Argentinian-Med-Asian experiments in this perpetually popular corner venue.
Báez 199, Las Cañitas, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4778 1900; novecento.com).
Great, homey Korean food in the heart of the textile barrio.
Junin 548, Once, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4372 1146).
German Martitegui's locally inspired dishes include Tierra del Fuego king crab and black pudding with endives.
Uriarte 1658, Villa Crespo Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4833 1112; casacruz-restaurant.com).
A great French/Mediterranean restaurant, bang in the centre of Palermo Soho, Cluny serves informal yet elegant food and is one of Palermo's safest bets for lunch of dinner. Save room for the volcán de dulce de leche - a crisp, warm sponge loaded with sweet caramel. Open Mon-Sat.
El Salvador 4618, Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 8431 7176; cluny.com.ar).
Opposite the National Museum of Decorative Art lies this charming garden café, one of the prettiest spots for lunch in the city. The menu features the odd obligatory beef or pasta dish, but the best bets here are the tarts, salads and sandwiches. Open Mon-Thu; Sat-Sun.
Libertador 1902, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4806 8639, croquemadame.com.ar).
Beef remains the Argentine staple, but only a handful of the capital's parrillas (grills) are as steadfastly reliable as Don Julio. It's popular with locals and is bristling with attentive waiters. Cuts come thick and juicy, and the grill is open for public viewing.
Guatemala 4691, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4831 9564, parrilladonjulio.com).
Smart but cosy haven specialising in pasta.
Báez 196, Las Cañitas, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4779 9060).
Acclaimed for its empanadas, the local pies, as well as cured meats, stews and regional puddings.
Posadas 1515, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4804 2909: elsanjuanino.com.ar).
Mid-market steakhouse offering great service, perfect steaks and offal.
Paraguay 5099, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4772 7343).
Dinner here feels like a night aboard a Vietnamese junk cluttered with lanterns, nodding cats, Chinese dolls and oriental artworks. It is one of the funkiest places in the neighbourhood to eat, with some of the city's finest cocktails and a fine selection of homespun Vietnamese dishes.
Costa Rica 5802, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4775 7050; green-bamboo.com.ar).
Families rub elbows with local TV stars at snug but stylish steakhouse La Dorita. Favourites are the three-meat tabla de carnes and grilled provoleta cheese.
Humboldt 1911, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4773 0070).
LA VIEJA ROTISERIA
Ultra-cheap, wonderfully friendly steakhouse on San Telmo's antique-shop street.
Defensa 963, San Telmo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4362 5660).
With its delicious Peruvian-Japanese fusion menu, Osaka is the city's most fashionable place to eat, frequented by just about every star in the city. Order a couple of plates of salmon tiraditos: fresh sashimi flecked with passion-fruit honey and finely chopped watercress. The waiting list can run to around three weeks, so book before you go. Open Mon-Sat.
Soler 5608, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4775 6964; osaka.com.pe).
Hidden away on a cobbled, tree-lined street in the far reaches of Palermo Hollywood, this is the coolest café in town. It is hugely popular, so you may have to wait for a table, but there are few better places to sit and watch the world go by. Open Tue-Sun.
Nicaragua 6068, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4778 9614, ouioui.com.ar).
One of Buenos Aires' most impressive restaurants, Oviedo is eternally reliable and absolutely divine. The restaurant takes a fresh fish delivery twice a day, and chef Martin Rebaudino's résumé includes time at El Bulli.
Beruti 2602, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4821 3741; oviedoresto.com.ar).
Pioneer of fashionable eating, Soul Café still draws the young hipsters and cocktail-seekers.
Báez 246, Las Cañitas, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4778 3115).
Delicate bites from South-East Asia.
Guatemala 5602, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4776 3777).
The best nightlife in Buenos Aires
A no-advertising policy hasn't stopped 878 becoming the coolest hang-out in town. Inside this unmarked townhouse are expansive sofas, bites and cocktails aplenty.
Thames 878, Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4773 1098, 878bar.com.ar).
BAR PLAZA DORREGO
There's something evocative and tango-esque about this bar-café's chequered floor and dusty old liqueur bottles, while its location, on a busy corner on San Telmo's plaza, is second to none.
Defensa 1098, San Telmo (00 54 11 4361 0141).
The kind of café that makes you weep at the sight of a Starbucks. Indescribably atmospheric.
Avenida de Mayo 829, San Nicolas Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4342 4328; cafetortoni.com.ar).
Heavily decorated, slow-moving, this world-weary 1912 café will one day be renovated. Until then it is still a glorious refuge from the brash and the flash.
Suipacha 384, San Nicolas, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4326 0521; confiteriaideal.com).
EL CLUB DEL VINO
Music venue for the older crowd where assorted veteran tangueros strut their stuff on Saturday nights.
Cabrera 4737, Palermo Viejo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4833 0048).
GRAN BAR DANZON
One of the city's hippest bar-restaurants, with fantastic cocktails at the long bar.
Danzon, Libertad 1161, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4811 1108; granbardanzon.com.ar).
Recoleta's premier terrace café, always packed with the local ricos y famosos.
Avenida Quintana 596, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4804 0449; labiela.com).
One of the city's best venues for folk, jazz, small international bands and virtuosos.
Balcarce 460, San Telmo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4342 7650; latrastienda.com).
What to see in Buenos Aires
BUILDINGS AND MONUMENTS
CEMENTERIO DE LA RECOLETA
Unmissable city of the dead, one of the world's greatest cemeteries. Look for Evita, presidents and generals, and try not to get lost in the labyrinthine pathways.
Junin 1760, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (cementeriorecoleta.com.ar).
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
PROA organises edgy experimental shows and big-name imports in La Boca's nod to the future.
Avenida Pedro de Mendoza 1929, La Boca, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4104 1000; proa.org).
MUSEO DE ARTE LATINAMERICANO DE BUENOS AIRES
Malba has a small but fascinating collection of South American modern art in Palermo.
Avenida Figueroa Alcorta 3415, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4808 6500; malba.org.ar).
MUSEO DE ARTE MODERNO EDUARDO SIVORI
This museum has local artworks on display and lovely café in the central patio. It is located right by the lake in Palermo park.
Avenida Infanta Isabel 555, Palermo (00 54 11 4774 9452).
MUSEO NACIONAL DE BELLAS ARTES
MNBA displays colonial and post-independence paintings and sculptures.
Avenida del Libertador 1473, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 5288 9900; bellasartes.gob.ar).
EL PORTENO/PUERTO MADERO/COSTANERA SUR ECOLOGICAL RESERVE
These are all accessed via the bridges on the docks east of the downtown area; the last is a large patch of wilderness on the coast, great for birdwatching or a quiet stroll.
THEATRE AND OPERA
A 10-minute taxi ride from Palermo is the city's legendary opera house, Teatro Colón. Even if arias aren't your thing, take the guided tour into the catacombs of this grand old opera house.
621 Libertad, San Nicolas (00 54 11 4378 7344; teatrocolon.org.ar).
TEATRO SAN MARTIN
Pop into the photography gallery, catch a free dance show, see an arthouse movie or go to the theatre. This is the main municipal arts complex and the tickets are subsidised.
Avenida Corrientes 1530 (00 54 11 4374 9377; teatrosanmartin.com.ar).
Where to shop in Buenos Aires
CANDIDO SILVA ANTIGUEDADES
One of San Telmo's many antique stores, packed full of South American art, silverware, furniture and other items from the houses of poor aristocrats.
Defensa 1066, San Telmo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4361 5053; candidosilva.com.ar).
BOOKS AND PAPER GOODS
EL ATENEO GRAND SPLENDID
Go along to this big, well-stocked bookshop just to see the interior of the building. A wonderful, dashingly-refurbished 1912 picture house.
Avenida Santa Fe 1860, Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4811 6104).
Poets have always preferred the cobbled alleys of Palermo, now they buy their handmade notepads here.
Honduras 4945, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4833 3081; papelerapalermo.com.ar).
Men's fashion in Argentina has rarely got beyond Lacoste sweaters slung over the shoulder. Brothers Javier and Alejo are challenging the golfer look with slick, savvy functional wear.
El Salvador 5960, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4772 2145).
JUANA DE ARCO
There are scores of fashion designers in Palermo, a former textile zone, including Juana de Arco, whose iconoclastic styles are among the hippest in BA.
El Salvador 4762, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4833 1621; juanadearco.net).
The top place to pick up tango and Argentine folk CDs and videos.
Avenida Callao 395, San Nicolas, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4371 7500).
How to get to Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has two airports: Ezeiza (Ministro Pistarini), for international flights, and Jorge Newbery Aeroparque for domestic and international flights. Ezeiza is 35 kilometres southwest of the centre; Aeroparque four kilometres north of the city centre.
AIRLINES FROM THE UK
British Airways (0845 773 3377; ba.com) flies to Buenos Aires from London Heathrow. Plenty of carriers offer indirect flights, including Alitalia via Rome (alitalia.com), Lufthansa via Frankfurt (lufthansa.com), Iberia via Madrid (iberia.com), TAM via Sao Paolo (tam.com.br); Air France via Paris (airfrance.co.uk), and KLM via Amsterdam klm.com).
Tourist information for Buenos Aires
A good way of seeing Buenos Aires and its surroundings is through tour companies and travel agents. Try BAT, Buenos Aires Tur, Lavalle 1444 (00 54 11 4371 2304; buenosairestur.com), Buenos Aires Vision, Esmeralda 356 (00 54 11 4394 4682; buenosaires-vision.com.ar).
Centros de Información de Turismo - CIT (00 54 11 43741251; bue.gov.ar) - has information centres in Puerto Madero (at Avenida Moreau de Justo 200), Retiro (Avenida Antártida Argentina and at the crossing of Florida and Marcelo T de Alvear), Recoleta (Quintana 596) and San Nicolás (Florida 100).