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Monday, September 19, 2011

Buenos Aires Now Has Its First Wine-Tasting Hotel


LATIN AMERICA 2011 | CHECK IN, CHECK OUT

Hotel Review: Hotel Mio in Buenos Aires

Nicolas Goldberg for The New York Times
Bathtubs, on a pedestal in the room, are carved from caldén trees.
THE UPSHOT
Buenos Aires’s first wine-themed hotel, the 30-room Mio is owned by the Catena wine-producing family, with rooms starting at $269 (prices are given in U.S. dollars).
LOCATION
In leafy Recoleta, on exclusive Avenida Quintana, Mio is close to high-end shopping at designer boutiques and near Patio Bullrich mall and just blocks from Eva Perón’s tomb in Recoleta Cemetery.
THE ROOM
Rooms are large and theatrical, with a raised ledge on one side of the room leading to semi-open-format bathrooms. On that ledge, a carved wood bathtub made of caldén (a native Argentine wood) takes center-stage in front of floor-to-ceiling glass windows, with noisy electric-operated curtains opening onto balconies. The diverse décor features marble and glass; wine barrel woods; rich, deeply grained wood floors and cabinets; and polished gray concrete walls. The sofas, chairs and throw rugs give punches of color. All rooms have iPod dock stations, free Wi-Fi, 32-inch televisions, DVD players and 80 HD cable channels. English or Spanish language newspapers are no extra charge. The mini-bar has liquor and specialty wine for sale, along with unlimited free house wine on tap, piped into rooms, and a free spigoted bottle of Argentine sparkling also available. The tap didn’t work on my visit, and the sparkling-wine bottle was empty. When replaced, the sparkling wine was rancid. I was ultimately given a bottle of bubbly in an old-fashioned ice bucket.
THE BATHROOM
Bathrooms are also on that raised ledge, made of highly polished marble, and are cut in two by the wooden tub, which can be something of an obstacle. The toilet and bidet have an area set apart by frosted glassed; the shower has a separate area, too. But the oversize sink and mirror are open to the room. (The Mio Suites have a second bathroom, and a private steambath.) A scale, slippers, robes and hairdryer are provided, as well as L’Occitane toiletries. One caution: a possibly dangerous but beautiful design issue. The polished stone ledge in conjunction with the sculptured bathtub leaves only a narrow passageway. It’s a precarious wet-foot situation, especially when rushing in the morning.
AMENITIES
Plenty for a small hotel, including the eighth-floor spa and gym, with its stone-lined whirlpool, wine treatment therapies and steam sauna withshower with head-to-toe pulsing water heads. The mezzanine houses a lounge and library, and a small conference center with Internet terminals. The lobby includes a restaurant, Tô, run by the chef Leandro Dimare, offering tapas with wine pairings, and a menu mixing Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, and wine-flavored desserts. In the morning, the same space serves breakfast and connects to a patio where giant sculptural insects play in a waterfall fountain. Breakfast is included in the room price: a generous buffet with pancakes, waffles, eggs and other made-to-order items.
BOTTOM LINE
With its dramatic design, the Mio is a welcome departure from Buenos Aires’s epidemic of bland boutique hotels. The location is ideal, and the multilingual staff, capable even in Russian, is friendly, skilled and accommodating. Still, like many design hotels, it values form over function, whether it is the bathtub dangerously dominating the bathroom wing or the troubled wine-tap system (the hotel’s signature gimmick, which one day might actually work). Doubles from $269 deluxe, $309 junior suite, $359 terrace suite, $749 mio suite.
Hotel Mio, Avenida Quintana 465; (54) 11-5295-8500; miobuenosaires.com