BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Sometimes called “Palermo Queens,” the Villa Crespo barrio is located at the southern end of Palermo Soho with the unspoiled charm of tree-lined, cobblestone streets for which Buenos Aires is renowned.
This neighbourhood, however, is much less touristy than its Palermo neighbours and the Porteños -- as the local residents are affectionately known -- dominate the scene here in cafes, boutiques, bars and clubs.
Trendy Villa Crespo is home to the new and evolving Paseo de Compras -- Fashion Outlet Stores -- where shopping for new clothes is a unique, fun experience. And what gay person doesn't love to shop for a new outfit while on vacation!
The latest addition to this fashionable, hip community is the POP Budget Boutique Hotel, the first of its kind in Buenos Aires. Opened in November 2011, this unique hotel offers large, designer rooms at modest prices, which are perfect to enjoy the local scene but leaving enough holiday budget to savour the nearby shopping.
The gay-friendly POP Hotel is a place where you can make new friends, relax in spacious rooms, enjoy the lounge areas on each floor, and use the computers on the second floor. It is a comfortable place with a modern design, clean and accessible facilities, and with an outstanding price-product relationship.
POP Hotel is located in a strategic area near the gay nightlife, commercial and tourist attractions, yet close to the subway and bus routes.
Whether it is for business or leisure travel, POP Hotel satisfies every traveller's needs, regardless of the length of stay. Focusing on guests who are seeking to get the maximum benefit from their trip, POP Hotel offers a simple service, with emphasis on an economic price point.
The 44 rooms reflect the smart design of the urban clientele, created for comfort and flexible use of the specific space. POPCORN Lounges are on each floor with a specially designed area for pleasure, relaxation, comfort, recreation or to meet other guests.
The F&B Lounge, located on the first floor, is a space to enjoy snacks and drinks, where you can interact with fellow guests plus make new friends. The 24/7 gay-friendly, knowledgeable front desk staff will quickly assist you to find your way around the Villa Crespo community.
Included in the low room rates is a morning breakfast served at the nearby Krok Bar and Cafe. Here you will be able to enjoy complimentary coffee, fresh juice with a fruit plate, plus toast accompanied by preserves, dulce de leche, or cream cheese, and the local Argentine speciality -- medialunas. Krok offers both indoor and outdoor seating with friendly, efficient service.
In close proximity to the POP Hotel are many local restaurants that offer a variety of menu options. The Almacen Purista Cafe is on the same block as the hotel and has an extensive menu of Argentine specialities all prepared on-site. Just three blocks from the Hotel is the Cafe Crespin where the lox and cream cheese on a bagel or New York cheesecake are rarely seen on Buenos Aires' menus and the hearty brunches are renowned. Central Cafe on Serrano Street will delight you with fresh baked breads, pastries, salads, and more.
For a unique experience, the Jamming Radio+Bar on Loyola Street offers pizza, baquettes, tapas, burgers and veggi specials accompanied by live Jamming Radio Reggae for musical entertainment. Of course there are several local Parillas (BBQs) where traditional Argentine assado and grilled meats are prepared for hearty appetites.
Another fashionable reason to stay at the POP Hotel is the close proximity – a 15-minute walk -- to the Murillo Street leather shops. Here you can find the best prices for genuine leather goods, made in Argentina, including shoes, coats, jackets, bags, accessories and novelties.
If you are looking for a break from the urban excitement and shopping, then a 20-minute walk will take you to the Parque Centenario, or Centennial Park. Here you can relax in 25 acres of parkland including a mile-long promenade around the lake's perimeter, which is very popular with local joggers. The Buenos Aires characteristic Tipa trees provide lots of shade but there is plenty of open space for sun worshippers.
So if you are looking to plan an economical visit to the gay mecca of Buenos Aires, the POP Budget Boutique Hotel and Villa Crespo offer a fashionable, budget conscious, and smart alternative to the more expensive and well-known tourist neighbourhoods. But there is no need to sacrifice any of the LGBT excitement of this metropolis which is still close at hand when you stay in Villa Crespo. This is one of Buenos Aires' best kept secrets!
Roy Heale, a freelance writer who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is SDGLN's South America contributor. He writes about LGBT issues from the Latin American continent. To read more stories by Roy Heale, visit his website.