Argentine Ambition | Faena Hotel + Universe, Buenos Aires
It's not uncommon for a hotel to compare itself to a home, a palace, even a city. Buenos Aires's newest hotel goes even further. Faena Hotel + Universe is the brainchild of local entrepreneur and former fashion designerAlan Faena, who's created a cultural, artistic and culinary center in a downtown Belle Epoque building. Designed by Philippe Starck, in his trademark witty style, the Faena has 83 guest rooms with 18-karat gold-leaf swan chairs and 85 residential apartments featuring Tuscan marble and oversize bathtubs. The common areas are also over-the-top, with El Academy, "The School of Good Living," which teaches cooking, and two restaurants, including one that becomes a South American and European specialty food market on weekends. Guests who want to leave the Universe can go on expeditions with renowned Argentinean photographer Aldo Sessa, attend polo matches with professional players and tour the Cuyo wine region. Alan Faena plans to open more Universes, starting with one in Rio de Janeiro. DETAILS Doubles from $300; 011-54-11-4021-5555; faenaexperience.com.