Luckily, Buenos Aires is a city full of temporary rental apartments. This is great for the tourist because you can rent an apartment for a week for the price of one night at a hotel. Also, apartments have full kitchens so you can save money by cooking your own meals. In addition, the apartments are much larger than hotel rooms, and you have more privacy then staying in a hotel.
However, finding that perfect tourist apartment in Buenos Aires can be challenging. At first you might be saying to yourself, well as long as it had a bed and it is clean what do I care? While that may be true for some people, if you are planning on staying in Buenos Aires for more than a few days you will want to avoid some of the mistakes I have made in the past when renting an apartment there.
After renting several apartment in Buenos Aires I now know what to look for and what to avoid. Below are some tips that will help you find that ideal apartment and make your stay in Buenos Aires more enjoyable.
Neighborhood – Make sure to ask exactly where the apartment is located. This might sound strange but many people renting out their apartments market their apartments as being in the desirable neighborhoods of Recoleta and Palmero when they actually are not. In fact at first glance you might think that those are only the two neighborhoods in Buenos Aires! But this is just real estate agents and apartment brokers tricky efforts to falsely expand the borders of the most desired neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Recoleta and Barrio Norte (these two neighborhoods are usually used to denote the same area, with Barrio Norte being closer to subway stops) is the best place to stay while in Buenos Aires.
Palermo is also nice with cool new restaurants and hip bars, but for me the barrio still has a way to go before it is as nice and established as Recoleta/Barrio Norte. There is too much graffiti and dog crap (watch your step while walking on Palermo sidewalks!) for me to suggest staying there over Recoleta. While some parts of Palermo can be quite charming it is just too big of a neighborhood to recommend it as a whole. Unless you know the specific location in Palermo is what you are looking for, it is best just to stick to Recoleta.
Noise – I read once that Buenos Aires is the noisiest city in the world. After a night trying to sleep in an apartment on the street side of a busy avenue you will agree. Loud buses and scooters with no mufflers will keep you up at night or annoy you during the day if you aren’t careful about your apartment choice. The most important factor is make sure the apartment is not located on the street side of a building. For more quiet you want an apartment in the back side of the building or “contrafrente” as it is sometimes listed in spanish. Secondly, it is preferable to be on a low traffic street. But, I have stayed in apartments on a busy street before but the building was so large and the apartment was so far in the back it was actually very quiet. Finally the higher up the apartment the better, so look for an apartment on a high floor. However, I stayed in an apartment once that was on the 11th floor but it was still very noisy because it was on the street side. Therefore, the most important factor in having a quiet stay in Buenos Aires is look for an apartment on the back side of the building.
Rooms – In Argentina a one bedroom apartment is called a two room apartment. So don’t be shocked when you arrive and the “two room” apartment you rented is not a two bedroom, but an apartment with a living room and a bedroom. Likewise a studio apartment is called a “one room” apartment or “monoambiente” in spanish. Just make sure you are getting the right number of rooms you want when you rent, or ask for a floor plan before you decide to put down that deposit.
Bed(s) – The eyes can be deceiving is what I learned when I rented what I thought was a perfect apartment. I even went to see the apartment before I decided to rent it. But I was fooled by the queen sized comforter covering up two single beds pushed together. Now some people might prefer this if you are two people traveling together and you want your own tiny bed, however there were queen sheets on the bed so you would have to ask for two sets of single sheets and more blankets to have two beds anyway (which in Argentina may or may not happen). So make sure your check under the covers or ask what the bed arrangement is before you book the apartment because waking up in the crack produced when the two beds push apart in the night is not a fun experience.
Refrigerator – Many Buenos Aires apartments are small and sometimes the kitchen only has space for a small “dorm-style” refrigerator with a “freezer” the size of a text book that takes three days to make ice. This might not be a big deal to some, but I prefer to have a full sized fridge to make ice for drinks, and for longer stays to keep frozen food frozen.
Internet – Many apartments in Buenos Aires offer “high speed” Internet. But what that means to some people may be different to you. I rented an apartment once that claimed to have high speed internet and when I arrived it was slower than dial up. The owner was in Spain and wouldn’t increase the speed so I had to spend many afternoons at Internet cafes just to check email. Be sure to ask what the speed of the Internet is and if you don’t know what is fast and what isn’t usually a connection of 512 Kbps will be fine if you are just checking email occasionally, but if you are planning on downloading files and working online while you are in Argentina, then I would recommend at least a 1.0 Mbps connection or faster.
English – If you don’t speak Spanish, be sure to ask if the representative that will be meeting you at the apartment speaks English. Usually this isn’t a problem, but I have had instances where I had to conduct business in Spanish and while it went OK, if you don’t speak Spanish it might not go as smoothly for you.