Bienvenidos to the frenzy of Buenos Aires, where the women devour red meat and dulce de leche and still look better in spandex than you did in high school. Afternoons are lazy, nights are crazy, and mornings after are always a little hazy.
Argentine extravagance — in all its red-velvet, gold-leaf glory — meets Philippe Starck wackiness at Faena Hotel + Universe (Martha Salotti 445; +54-11-4010-9000) in happening Puerto Madero. The modern, sun-washed rooms at Design Suites, (Marcelo T. de Alvear 1683; +54-11-4814-8700) starting at $80, are a stylish bargain.
Argentines dine like they dance: con pasión y gusto. The slick, glowing dining room of Bar Uriarte (Uriarte 1572; +54-11-4834-6004) is filled with both, as well as B.A.’s artists and models. For the juiciest steaks, sausages, and cabrito (baby goat), hit El Mirasol (Moreau de Justo Alicia 202; +54-11-4315-6277). Or break out the seven-centimeter stilettos for the scene at Sucre 632 (Sucre 676; +54-11-4782-9082) in Palermo Hollywood.
Euro sophistication mixed with Argentine daring make for killer shopping — like wraparound numbers from local designer Trosman (1998 Armenia; +54-11-4833-3058). On Sundays visit the outdoor flea market at the Recoleta for jewelry, antiques, and art. Rub elbows with the cognoscenti in Palermo Hollywood’s mod-furniture emporium Concepto Gea (Nicaragua 4758; +54-11-4833-5820) and clothing boutique Maria Allo (Armenia 1637; +54-11-4831-3733).
Into extreme sports? Join the fútbol zealots cheering for the Boca Juniors at Alberto J. Armando Stadium. For a fancier sporting experience (and hot-flash-inducing hombrecitos), go to a polo match. (Argentina tends to wins the World Championships.)
After a proper siesta, hop from clubs like Mint (Costanera Norte, Punta Carrasco; +54-11-4806-8002) and tango shows at Señor Tango (Vieytes 1655; 54-11-4303-0231) to bars like Shamrock (Rodríguez Peña 1220; +54-11-4812-3584). Cabs home before sunrise are only for the faint of heart.
And if you wake up remembering everything you did, you didn’t do it right.