Travel

By Irene Fogarty

I’m not sure whether I have the knack for finding the most eclectic, slightly eccentric boutiquish places or whether they find me. Either way, I’m blessed. Because when I stumbled upon the Youkali website, I knew it was the one for me. Named after a beautifully sad tango by German composer Kurt Weill, the Youkali is the brainchild of a young artistic German man, Geert. Formerly known as Boquitas Pintadas – one of the first “design” hotels in Buenos Aires where many famous artists, writers and actors hung out – the Youkali is located in a former “red light” district of Constitucià³n, a neighborhood that strongly reminded me of the Lower East Side ten years ago.

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From the moment I stepped into the clean, white minimalist bar/restaurant/foyer of the Youkali, I was not only greeted by Geert and a friendly staff who also seemed to know that this was my Buenos Aires home. Designed to resemble a Berlin butcher shop, the bar is known for its extensive drinks menu that is creative as the hotel itself. So when I got to my cool-ice blue painted room with the TV and phone painted in the same color, I was dying to explore the place from top to bottom.

“You don’t know if it’s genius or a bit strange. And that’s the idea,” said Geert. As a three-storey 19th century house, the Youkali has only 5 rooms to its name, all named after famous glaciers. I stayed in all the rooms and got to experience each one and all its colorful individuality.

The biggest room is not to be missed. With flawless mahogany floors, black on white inked art on the walls, and luscious leather chairs, you’ll fall so in love with the room’s romantic incongruity that you may want to stay in it all night. Be sure to ask for this suite if you stay more than one night. It’s a treat! The suite includes a small living room, with a couch, coffee table, DVD & MP3 player. All rooms have cable TV, wireless Internet, laundry service and room service.

If you’re looking for the best places to eat, you don’t have to travel far. I looked forward to breakfast every morning. Be prepared, it’s big. So big you may skip lunch. See how many “medialunas, something like French croissants, you can down in one sitting! Even more surprising is the excellence of the unassuming dinnertime menu. Featuring locally known porteà±o-chef Daniel, offers a German-inspired menu with mouth-watering culinary delights that will appeal to everyone. Who knew so called “anti-vegetarian” Buenos Aires could have a hotel that invented the most delish raw food dishes I’ve ever tried? Then again, it’s the Youkali.

And if when you want to see something off the beaten track, forget Time Out – just ask the staff. They’ll willingly divulge great insider tips from restos to alternative options for the best tango hot spots. Like to know some Buenos Aires history? Sebastian, the good looking, well toned bar man on Sundays, is your man. For a mathematician, this guy can give you a quick overview of the country’s political history with great detail and enthusiasm.

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You cannot walk around the Youkali without noticing the alarming artwork; blue busts Egyptian statues, Grecian goddesses, South Pacific memorabilia, the mini photo gallery and much, much more. It’s impossible to pinpoint all the influences but the ambiance was in someway reminiscent of Vim Wenders masterpiece, “Wings of Desire.” There’s even a roof top mini-pool, which not only gives you a breath-taking view of the city, it makes you realize that the Youkali really does offer you everything you could ever want.

Perhaps another reason that makes the Youkali so extraordinary is that it’s a little “way out” – in location as well as in every other sense. Away from the overrated and overly chic Palermo district, this gem is nestled in the centric neighborhood of Monserrat, which means you’re only a few blocks from San Telmo (the cobbled-stoned bohemian neighborhood of the city) and a little cut off from anywhere else. So when you’re all malbeced out and you finally arrive back to your Youkali, you’re always happy to see the staff and know that you’re in the coolest, hippest, dream-like hotel in Buenos Aires. So now that you know about it, go discover it. Just be sure to tell Geert I sent you there!

Youkali Hotel
1393 Estados Unidos
Buenos Aires 1101
Ph: 54 11 4381 6064
youkali@youkali.com.ar

Originally published September 2007
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