Friday, January 21, 2011

Rags to Riches

A little while ago a PR rep contacted me saying that she understood that I was a freelance travel writer living in Buenos Aires. She offered me a free night at the CasaSur Art Hotel (one of her clients) so that I could do a review, if I was interested.

Of course, I was. On Tuesday I stayed in a 5 star hotel right here in Buenos Aires. I already finished my glowing review for Travelated, it will be up on the 27th and I will post a link here. However, I thought I'd post some of my non-travel writer thoughts as well as photos. I made an album on facebook with all the photos I took, feel free to check it out.

Let's just start off with saying I have stayed in a hotel room maybe 3 times in my adult life. I am frugal. A stay at this hotel was exciting enough, but seeing as I am a travel writer, I was treated to the absolute best. The hotel has 4 levels of rooms, the best being the Executive Suite which takes up the entire 12th floor and is over 700 square feet. Guess which room I got?

I could tell when I showed up at the desk that the employees were surprised to see me. Of course, they had been told a travel writer would be staying that night and checking in 3 hours early so she would have plenty of time to explore the premises. They had not, however, been told that writer was 23 and covered in tattoos. And hey, let's be real, I don't even look 23. To their credit, they hardly skipped a beat and they made absolutely no cracks about my last name which is, unfortunately, the same as the hated president.

When the bellboy, Gastón, took me to my room I did not immediately realize my room was the entire floor. When I entered, there was a huge bedroom suite. It had an LCD TV mounted on the wall, a desk by the window, a mini bar, and a massive king sized bed with endless pillows. There was also a pretty sizable bathroom with a sweet rain shower and mildly confusing bathroom fixtures. The decor was so modern that it took me a minute to figure out how to turn the faucet on.

Once I had seen the bedroom, he showed me the really awesome part of the suite, which was the lounge/business area. This side had another TV, bathroom and mini bar. Instead of a desk and bed there was a couch and a little table. Next to the couch was my own personal espresso machine with 4 different types of coffee. There were not one, but two balconies. The smaller of the two faced the main street, Callao Ave. It was a really cool view from 12 stories up, I spent some time sitting out there soaking up some sun. Of course, the back balcony was what truly amazed me. It was enormous, it had to be, it held a personal jacuzzi and 2 spa lounge chairs.

Once Gastón left I was able to drop my professional travel writer face and just show my pure, amazed joy. I walked through the suite with a huge smile on my face, already knowing I would have a very hard time leaving it the next morning. On the table in the business suite I found a plate of fresh fruit waiting for me. Second breakfast with some espresso you say? Don't mind if I do! It took me a while to figure out the machine, turns out I don't make coffee all that often either. Right as my first cup was brewing, I heard some weird musical tune. After a couple seconds I realized it was the phone. The manager, Mariano, was calling to welcome me. While I believed the welcome letters and even the free welcome drink at the bar were something all the guests received, I got the feeling only the 12th floor guests got special phone calls.

After I enjoyed my fruit and espresso I changed to go to the Relax Room, which is a spa area in the basement of the hotel. I had my own private Jacuzzi but I wanted to check it out so I could review it for the readers. I also saw the pseudo gym, just a treadmill, bike and some free weights. Oh well, I got the feeling no one staying at that hotel had any intention of working out.
The spa room had the same spa lounge chairs I had upstairs, but also had a giant shelf of towels, robes and water bottles. Being a budgeter at heart, I made sure to grab several bottles of water for later. I saw two buttons by the Jacuzzi, I pushed one and the jets started. I chilled out in the water for about an hour, reading on my Kindle. (I had it wrapped in a little hand purse which I had looped around my wrist, my pseudo-protection from dropping it and destroying the latest love of my life). When I had had enough, I went to push the other button, which I assumed turned the jets off. Wrong. There was a giant shower head thing above me that I had not noticed. The button I pushed sent a powerful waterfall out of it. Luckily, I was not hit, but it certainly caught me off guard.

Pretty Liz on the balcony!
After the Relax Room I went and tested out my shower. Please keep in mind that at home I have a sad little shower with mediocre pressure and water that only gets to slightly above lukewarm. The shower was glorious and so was my discovery of the slippers and robe which I put on, for no reason other than I felt like I should.
I read and watched some TV, testing out all the soft surfaces and taking in the delicious smells of all the fresh flowers spread about the room. Eventually I ventured out of the hotel to check out the area. I already had a vague idea of where I was, near the famous Recoleta Cemetery. I noticed lots of other hotels, all with huge entrances and scary guards. I was happy to get back to CasaSur, which looked more like an apartment building and the only men around were the familiar bell boys. I picked up some medialunas while I was out and also stopped by the convenience store to pick up things that were in my mini bar. I knew I’d want them later, so I saved myself the money by buying the at a normal store.

The cheese spread management sent me.
I informed the desk that my friend Liz would be visiting. When I opened the door to her a little bit later, she exclaimed, "Oh my God you have the whole floor!". I had so much fun showing her around. We had some espressos and ate a few of the medialunas I bought while we got some sun on my balcony. After that we hung out on the comfy couch in the AC, another luxury I do not have in my apartment. It was lovely to have a visitor and pretend like I lived there.

After Liz left I watched some TV and started convincing myself to go back to my apartment for a bit to take care of my dog, Padfoot. While I was watching TV the turn down service came. A guy swooped in, put all kinds of new fluffly towels in the bathrooms, replaced the dirty coffee cups with new ones and handed me a fancy white chocolate. Less than 10 minutes later, there was another knock at the door. A woman stood outside with a huge platter of cheese, dried tomatoes and nuts with the biggest glass of red wine I had ever seen. She told me it was compliments of the management. This was a clear attempt to win me over and let me tell you, it was working. I sat down and gorged myself on fancy cheeses and some delicious Malbec. Cheese is outrageously expensive here, so I savoured every bite. 

After tending to Padfoot I returned to the hotel to relax in my giant bed and read a bit before heading down to dinner. I was given a free dinner as part of this deal, so I was planning on making the most of it. The cheese plate had served as my appetizer, which is good since all the appetizers on the menu had meat. I immediately ordered another glass of red wine and a bottle of water. I hate paying for water here, but during my meal I ordered 4 different drinks (wine, 2 bottles of water and an iced coffee) just because I could. For my main course I ordered Lobster Risotto. It was creamy, delicious and not at all lacking in lobster. For dessert I ordered -- you guessed it -- ice cream. The Crema Americana and Dulce de Leche were rich and creamy. I especially enjoyed discovering that the cone bowl was able to balance on the plate due to the layer of dulce de leche beneath it. Genius.  

I was absolutely stuffed after dinner so I didn't even want the snacks I had bought earlier. Instead I decided to enjoy the cool night outside in my jacuzzi. I spent the next hour and a half reading and relaxing, playing around with the water settings and looking at the night sky. It was amazing. 

My favourite photo of the night, playing in the jacuzzi.
When it got too dark to read, I went inside to do some yoga and get ready for bed. Of course, I never wanted to sleep because my room was too awesome. I ended up jumping on the bed, watching TV and reading some more. I fell asleep around 3am, though my alarm was set for 9am. You'll hear more about my 9am hotel room workout when you read my Sunday Fitness Challenge Update. Let's just say that when my alarm went off it was pouring rain and my bed had quite a firm grasp on me, but I still stuck to the rules of the challenge and did the work out. After working out and showering I hit up the free breakfast, where I had fresh fruit, medialunas, toast, coffee, orange juice and cocoa puffs. 

I had to check out at noon, which was so incredibly sad. However, the front desk held my bags and let me go down to the Relax Room to read in the jacuzzi for about another hour. Awesome. When I was leaving, Gastón made another appearance. He was in a rush to ask me some last minute questions, about where I went to school and how I ended up being a travel writer here. He said he had looked at my check in card and saw I was only 23 and didn't understand how that was possible. I am pretty sure he is in no way allowed to be looking up my info like that, but I was flattered that he was interested enough to look. 

It was definitely an excellent 24 hours. My full review will be up on the 27th, but I think it's clear the hotel will be a good review from me! I'll sign off with a few photos of me jumping on the bed. Sorry about the quality, keep in mind I had to set a timer to take these!


  1. Love the bed jumping action shots!!!
    ...did that sound dirty? Sorry!

  2. There are major perks to being a blogger. I've been invited to the STL Symphony Orchestra several times for free, and my brother has gotten some cool breaks as far as getting a hold of rare movies. Pretty cool stuff!