Steamy liaisons in short stay hotels or telos are nothing new in Argentinas capital. But now the tacky decor and garish lighting are being ditched for style, gourmet food and free mini bars
A diplodocus-size steak, a live football match, a late-night tango lesson: its the classic Buenos Aires tourist tick list. But for a really authentic experience, no visit to the Argentine capital if you are travelling as a couple is complete without a cheeky visit to a telo.
Found in every neighbourhood, the ubiquitous by-the-hour love hotel (telo is a botched anagram of hotel) occupies an intrinsic place in the lives and lusts of the citys inhabitants.
Other countries have drive-in motels and cheap hotels on the highway, but few places have telos like ours that are oriented explicitly for couples looking to enjoy an intimate experience in private, says José Rosell, manager of Faraón, a well-known love hotel.
While short-stay hotels are prevalent elsewhere in Latin America, few offer the five-star treatment that has emerged in Buenos Aires since the late-noughties. Gone are the garish lighting and grubby sheets of old. For the new-look telos, its now all slick minimalist furniture, plasma TVs and free mini-bars. Not that theyve lost their kitsch, of course: expect faux fur and sparkly erotica aplenty.
Their client list is slowly changing too, says Daniel Fridman, owner of the Albergues Transitorios, an online directory of over 150 telos in the city. Couples enjoying an extramarital fling still make up a good portion of the telo market (forget trying to get a room on Day of the Secretary celebrated every year on 4 September as every telo is booked). But the capitals short-stay hotels are becoming increasingly popular with married couples looking to spice things up a bit or simply wanting to escape the kids for a few hours.
In response to public demand, theres a good number of love hotels that are modernising and adopting new styles. The spaces are bigger, they have more natural light and the carpets are being replaced by wooden floors, Fridman says.
Discretion is one element of the telo experience that isnt about to change soon though. There are no namechecks. No requests for documentation. And definitely no communal bar or restaurant where you could bump into a neighbour (or, worse still, a spouse). Just drive in off the street, collect you key and, well, get on with it.
Buenos Aires love hotels are gay-friendly in legal terms. Age (over 18), not gender, is the single stipulation under municipal law. Oh, and no staying over 24 hours, however much fun youre having.
When it opened in 1974, Jota Jota caused a splash in the telo world by decorating all its rooms individually. Now its sales pitch is all about natural lighting, stylish decor and free Wi-Fi. An advocate of eroticism, not pornography, JJ likes to think of itself as a bit classier than its competitors. Book into the high-end apartment suite on a Sunday or Monday, and theyll throw in a free meal. Bookings also run to four hours at the weekend, rather than the two-hour rush hour limit mid-week.
Rooms from ARS 970 (£46) for three hours, Avenida del Libertador 7900, Nuñez, hoteljj.com.ar
Dont be put off by the drab exterior. Rampa Car may look and sound like the bland headquarters of an accountancy firm, but its themed interior would make even the boldest bean-counter blush. Conveniently, camouflage is available courtesy of the Arabian rooms scarlet red walls. Star Wars geeks should head straight to the Space Room replete with fake control panels and robot paraphernalia. If Dirty Dancing is more your thing, then you can let go your inner Jennifer Grey or Patrick Swayze in the Tango Room, which is equipped with its own private dancefloor. All this is situated in the hip downtown district of Palermo.
Rooms from £16 for three hours (two hours Friday-Saturday), Angel J Carranza 1347, hotelrampacar.com
Another favourite along the Panamericana, the short-stay love shack super-highway, Dissors finds itself at the upper-end of the telo market. From Buddas in the bedroom to chandeliers on the ceiling, it doesnt feel so different from your average designer hotel just with a kinky tweak or two (Im thinking of the red leather boxing-glove chair in particular). Go Sunday or Monday and theyll give you the next tourno free.
Rooms from £40 for four hours, Av General Paz 900, dissorshotel.com.ar
Torres del Lago
Imagine a red-light, floral-curtailed version of Neighbours Ramsay Street and youre not far off Torres del Lago. Occupying 3.5-acre neatly gardened plot in the south of the capital, the hotel comprises two dozen or so variously sized timber chalets. The most exclusive the triplex includes a small indoor swimming pool, glass-roofed sun room to top up your tan and pool table. Geared towards the truly energetic.
Rooms from £23, Camino de Cintura, Cruce Lomas, , torresdelago.com.ar
Hotel General Paz
On the junction of two of Buenos Aires best-known highways, the Panamericana and General Paz, you cant miss this iconic 23-room telo monster. An exemplar of the current vogue for shiny minimalism, each of the largish rooms are kitted out by different decorators most of them women. If youve worked up an appetite, theres a gourmet room service menu and impressive wine list to choose from. And, to keep the bedsheet crumbs to a minimum, each room has a fully laid dining table. Hot tubs sunk into the living room floor come as standard as well.
Rooms from £66 for three hours, Av General Paz 3921, generalpazhotel.com
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