The view from the top

Panamericano Buenos Aires, 9 de Julio

Last Thursday was a day of celebration. Not only did it mark 6 months to the day that I first touched down in Argentina, but it was also my young lady’s 24th birthday. Somewhere I had always wanted to go, since first spying the strikingly brutalist twin towers that impose themselves so decadently over Avenida 9 de Julio, was the 5-star Hotel Panamericano. Finally, with an excuse or two to hand, I booked us a staycation for the following night.

Something helpful about CABA (used in common local parlance to refer to Buenos Aires federal capital, rather than Buenos Aires province) is that the barrios within its clearly defined city limits are particularly well serviced by public transport. An example of this is the SUBTE metro system, where the respective 6 lines all remain within CABA from start to finish. This makes the place very workable therefore, and it was just as well as I had a spate of journeys to cram in before luxuriating in the Panamericano’s marble magnificence.

A few trips later – clothes/bags changed at home; room checked in; birthday girl collected after her exam in Recoleta – we were sipping G&Ts in the hotel’s in-house stylish Celtic Pub. Adjacent to the cigar room and billiards table, the bar oozed Gatsbyesque panache with its tasteful lighting and hum of smooth jazz.

Once we’d finally extricated ourselves from this rabbit-hole of relaxation, we crossed the world’s widest avenue in the lashing rain, passing the Obelisco en route to highly recommended pan-European restaurant Zum Edelweiss. Running to Argentinian time, it was just before midnight when we sat down among the alpine panelling and ornate stained glass for dinner and a bottle of the house Malbec.

Probably the best meal I have enjoyed here yet, this was rounded off with limoncellos as a parting gift from the waiter. Willingly defeated, we crossed back over 9 de Julio and retreated to our generous four-room seventh-floor chamber which was more like a penthouse apartment.

This theme of timeless European décor and classiness continued the next morning at breakfast. Situated in a grand old hall with high ceilings, pristine tablecloths and cutlery, there was an endless array of everything one might conceivably want at this time of day. The immaculately turned out hosts were attentive too, keeping the operation moving along seamlessly yet without the fuss of table service.

Saving the best until last, we had a quick costume change in the room afterwards and then headed up to Nivel 23. Situated on the twenty-third, and top floor is a health spa that boasts spectacular views of the city. Opting firstly for the sauna, I subsequently jumped into the swimming pool and dived under the hatch to its outdoor rooftop section for a most pleasant of light reliefs. Some hard-earned poolside dozing, obligatory photos and then repetition of the sequence proved an altogether dreamy Saturday morning-come-afternoon.

This clutch of hours, beginning on the Friday evening, were so enjoyable that they really concentrated the mind. Briefly tasting the high life, I didn’t want to give it back all so soon. Indeed, these kind of snapshots into what my life could look like, with enough hard work, always have a profoundly aspirational effect on me. If this is what ‘making it’ feels like, I am even more motivated to ‘make it’ than I already was.

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