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Politicians come and go in Buenos Aires and the value of the peso has more ups and downs than the loopiest roller coaster. But if there’s one constant in this city of flux it’s polo, and the season starts now. The Tortugas Open kicks off the triple crown on September 27 with Hurlingham on October 18. But the pinnacle of the sport—and the social season surrounding it—is the Argentine Open, from November 15 to December 6, at the Palermo polo fields, the so-called Cathedral of Polo. Unlike tournaments on the outskirts of town, such as those at La Aguada Polo Club, with its estancias and wine cellars, the Open is in B.A.’s restaurant and nightlife hub, so the frolicking doesn’t end when the matches conclude.
This season expect the stampede to move to the brand-new Ultra Hotel ($280–$400; 4929 Gorriti; 54-11/4780-4404; hotelultra.com), a swank 20-room hostelry that has its own women’s polo team and plans for post-polo rooftop soirées. Pablo Chiappori’s design, incorporating button tufting, ample leather, and a mix of antiques, has an English accent as strong as the sport itself.
As always, the chicest parties will be invite-only. The establishment heads to those hosted by the classic Alvear Palace Hotel ($800–$8,000; 1981 Avda. Alvear; 54-11/ 4808-2100; alvearpalace.com), while the under-40 set sticks around to sip free- flowing Chandon before cruising nearby Calle Báez. For a midnight dinner, there’s the slick new parrilla Soberbia 22 (dinner, from $40; 2199 Fitz Roy; 54-11/4776-4549; soberbia-parrilla.com), which sates a taste for traditional grilled Argentine beef. And the mostly Mediterranean Dominga (dinner, from $40; 5618 Honduras; 54-11/4771-4443; domingarestaurant.com), set in a gracious old house, and the dimly lit Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant Osaka (dinner, from $60; 5608 Soler; 54-11/4775-6964; osaka.com.pe) duel it out for best sushi.
Or you might just skip dinner altogether and go for complimentary snacks and local wine at the year-old Tailor Made Hotel ($230–$340; 385 Arce; 54-11/ 4774-9620; tailormadehotels.com) instead; the property practically touches the polo fields. Wake up early to catch a glimpse of a polista at nearby Talabartería Aynié (1539 Ortega y Gasset; 54-11/4771-0050), a tack shop that has crafted fine saddles and equipment since 1930. Or call Nicolás Fiorito, a polo player and entrepreneur whose company, Crossing Argentina (54-911/4162-7795; crossingargentina.com), can arrange a polocentric itinerary—one that could even include time to actually watch a match.
The Expert’s Buenos Aires
Credit for B.A.’s
Faena Hotel + Universe usually goes to its designer Philippe Starck and developer Alan Faena. But the fingerprints of a third visionary, Ximena Caminos, are just as prevalent there. As creative director, Caminos maintains a coterie of the city’s most accomplished artists—from musicians to perfumers to shoe designers—with whom to collaborate on the Faena’s nightly entertainment and its hypercurated boutique, a mini 10 Corso Como. This fall, for example, exclusive apparel by fashion designers Carolina K and Martín Churba will be sold in the shop, which Caminos is expanding into a full-on lifestyle emporium. When not fine-tuning the identity of Faena’s forthcoming Norman Foster–designed El Aleph residences or entertaining guest Vincent Gallo, who’s filming Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro in town, Caminos, a painter herself, can be found at her favorite creative wellsprings. Here, her Buenos Aires must-do list:
On Thursdays at Niceto Club, a free-form troupe of costumed noisemakers erupts from the crowd. 5510 Niceto Vega; 54-11/4779-9396; nicetoclub.com
Zavaleta Lab (567 Venezuela; 54-11/5290-4640; zavaletalab.com) for emerging artists; Ernesto Catena (4882 Honduras; 54-11/4833-9499; ecfotografiacontemporanea.com) for photography; and Braga Menendez (1574 Humboldt; 54-11/4775-5577; galeriabm.com) for blue-chip contemporary works.
On Wednesday nights at Faena’s Library Lounge, Oh Baby!, a band Caminos assembles (the front man is her doctor), enraptures the porteñas. 445 Martha Salotti; 54-11/4010-9000; faenahotelanduniverse.com
Best Foot Forward
In Buenos Aires some people know where all the bodies are buried, but I know where to find the best tango shoes. Comme il Faut (1239 Arenales, Rue des Artisans, apt. M; 54-11/4815-5690; commeilfaut.com.ar) has the most elite, with ten new limited-edition styles arriving weekly. Darcos (259 Suipach, 54-11/4326-0232 or 2394 Sucre, 54-11/5786-0086; darcostango.com) has the most customizable, and Tango Brujo (754 Esmeralda; 54-11/4325-8246; tangobrujo.com) the most comfortable. Don’t ask me to dance, though—all I know is that my Comme il Fauts look like Choos and cost only about one Benjamin.