Accommodations range from campgrounds to five-star luxury hotels. Wi-fi is common and breakfast is usually included. Reservations are advisable for regional high seasons. Payment in cash (usually at midrange to top-end hotels) sometimes results in a 10% discount. Likewise, you can be charged a 'fee' for using credit cards.
Hotels From basic to luxury, with a wide range in pricing.
B&Bs Common in cities and tourist destinations, usually midrange.
Hospedajes Homey accommodations, sometimes with private bathrooms. Similar to a pensión or residencial.
Estancias Accommodations on a ranch ranging from basic to luxurious.
Hostels Budget dormitories aimed at younger travelers.
- Some tourist destinations, especially at the beach or in the country, have cabañas (cabins) for rent. These are usually stand-alone cabin-type accommodations, and nearly always have a stocked kitchen. They are a great deal for groups or families (as they often have several rooms), though sometimes their off-the-beaten-track location means you’ll need a vehicle to reach them. A destination’s tourist office is a good place to find a list of local cabañas.
Camping & Refugios
- Camping can be a splendid way to experience Argentina, particularly the Lake District and Patagonia, where there are many good campgrounds.
- Many Argentine cities or towns have a fairly central municipal campground, but these are hit-and-miss – sometimes delightfully woodsy, sometimes crowded and ugly.
- Private campgrounds usually have good facilities: hot showers, toilets, laundry, barbecue for grilling, restaurant or confitería (cafe) and small grocery store. Free campgrounds are often excellent, especially in the Lake District, although they lack facilities. Municipal campgrounds are cheap, but can become party central on weekends.
- Argentine camping equipment is often more expensive and inferior than you may be used to.
- Camp stoves take locally available butane cartridges (which should not be taken on airplanes).
- There are definitely mosquitoes in Argentina, but mosquito repellent is widely available.
- Backpacking and backcountry camping opportunities abound in and around the national parks, especially those in the Lake District and the south. Some parks have free or cheap refugios (basic shelters), which have cooking facilities and rustic bunks.
- Few experiences feel more typically Argentine than staying at an estancia (a traditional ranch, often called fincas in the northwest). Some are very basic in their amenities, particularly if they are faithful to their roots as rustic country estates. Estancias are a wonderful way to spend time in remote areas of the country – and wine, horses and asados (traditional barbecues) are almost always involved.
- Estancias are especially common in the area around Buenos Aires, near Esteros del Iberá, and throughout the Lake District and Patagonia, where they’re often geared toward anglers. They’re not cheap, but rates generally include room, board and some activities.
Staying on an Estancia
One of the best ways to enjoy the open spaces of the pampas is to visit an estancia (ranch). Argentina’s late-19th-century belle époque saw wealthy families adorn their ranches with lavish homes and gardens.
Those days being long gone, many of these establishments are open to tourists. The día de campo (day in the country) usually includes a huge asado (barbecue) with drinks, a tour of the historic home and use of the property’s horses, bicycles and swimming pool. Some places offer a show gauchesco, featuring folk dances and feats of horsemanship, while others host polo matches. Estancias are a sustainable tourism option, helping to preserve part of the country’s past while providing an impressive guest-to-tree ratio. Most offer overnight stays, which include meals and activities.
These are all within a few hours' drive of Buenos Aires.
- Los dos Hermanos This down-to-earth ranch is best for day trips and horseback riding.
- La Candelaria At sunset, this extravagant French-style castle is the ultimate photo op.
- Estancia Ave María A refined rural getaway outside of Tandil.
- Candelaria del Monte Laid-back and elegant, with a beautiful swimming pool.
- Puesto Viejo Estancia Learn to play polo at this chic ranch and polo club.
Hospedajes, Pensiones & Residenciales
- Aside from hostels, these are Argentina’s cheapest accommodations, and the differences among them are sometimes ambiguous.
- A hospedaje is usually a large family home with a few extra bedrooms (and, generally, a shared bathroom).
- Similarly, a pensión offers short-term accommodations in a family home but may also have permanent lodgers.
- Residenciales generally occupy buildings designed for short-stay accommodations, although some (known euphemistically as albergues transitorios) cater to clientele who intend only very short stays – of two hours maximum. These are mostly used by young Argentine couples.
- Rooms and furnishings at these accommodations are modest, often basic and usually clean, and rooms with shared bathrooms are the cheapest.
- Hostels are common in Argentina, and range from basic no-frills deals to beautiful, multi-perk offerings more luxurious than your basic hotel. Most fall in between, but all have common kitchens, living areas, shared bathrooms and dorm rooms. Most have a few private rooms with or without bathroom.
- Hostels are a great way to meet other travelers, both Argentines and foreigners, especially if you're by yourself. Social events such as asados often take place, and local tours can be offered. However, remember that Argentines are night owls and hostelers tend to follow suit, so earplugs can be handy indeed.
- Hostel organizations, which offer discounts with membership, include Hostelling International (www.hihostels.com) and HoLa (www.holahostels.com).
- Argentine hotels vary from depressing, utilitarian one-star places to luxurious five-star hotels with all the usual top-tier services. Oddly enough, many one- and two-star hotels can prove better value than three- and four-star lodgings.
- In general, hotels provide a room with private bathroom, often a telephone and usually a TV with cable; some have microwaves and/or kitchenettes. Sometimes they have a confitería or restaurant and almost always include breakfast, whether it be a few medialunas (croissants) with coffee or full American-style buffet.
Rentals & Homestays
- House and apartment rentals often save you money if you’re staying in one place for an extended period. This can be an especially good deal during high season at resort locations, such as Bariloche or beach cities along the Atlantic coast (just book way ahead) – especially for groups. Tourist offices can be good sources for listings in addition to internationally used apps.
- During the tourist season, mostly in the interior, families rent rooms to visitors. Often these are excellent bargains, permitting access to cooking and laundry facilities while encouraging contact with Argentines. Tourist offices in many smaller towns or cities sometimes maintain lists of such accommodations.
Foreigners are exempt from the 21% IVA (value-added tax) on lodging when paying by credit card or with US dollars. While this is the law, smaller establishments often argue that they don't have a card reader (or that it's broken).
High season is generally January and February (when Argentines take their summer breaks), Semana Santa (Easter week) and July and August. In Patagonia, high season is October through March. Reserve ahead during these times. Outside these times, prices can drop anywhere from 20% to 50%.