San Antonio de Areco is a registered town of national historic interest and is a focal point for international tourism in the province of Buenos Aires.
As one of Argentina’s primary destinations to have the cowboy experience San Antonio is definitely worth a visit but the estancias here are not generally a good value compared to some other areas of Argentina such as Cordoba, and in the province of Buenos Aires, Capilla de Monte and Lobos.
The majority of the pueblo’s handful of estancias, or vacation ranches, appear to be price-fixing and the price is rather high for foreigners. At some of the estancias you may end up with five-star prices for accommodations that are not typically five-star quality.
While several estancias in San Antonio de Areco try to conceal a double pricing policy – one for foreigners and one for Argentines, this practice is commonplace in the popular pueblo. Many of the well-known estancias such as Rosario de Areco (who refused requests for a price list, but charge upwards of US$ 200 per night, cash only) do not publish their prices, a good indication that there may be a two-price system in place. Other estancias, such as Estancia Criolla and Estancia de la Fiesta Gaucha don’t hide the fact that foreigners are charged a third to twice as much for the same accommodations. Some believe this is understandable, given the prices are far out of the reach of most middle-class Argentine families, but with prices starting at around US$500 a night for a family of four, they are also out of reach of many middle-class foreigners.
Those who go with the understanding that they are purchasing the experience of staying at an estancia and the accompanying activities, not the lodgings themselves, may feel less sticker shock in the face of price gouging.
Travelers looking for more bang for their buck but who also want to have the ‘estancia experience’ in San Antonio de Areco would be wise to consider a posada, hotel or hostel to sleep and then head to an estancia for the day to get the cowboy experience.
La Porteña de Areco — A 180 year-old estancia and National Historic Monument where writer Ricardo Güiraldes (1886-1927), author of Don Segundo Sombra, spent time as a child. The accommodations are adequate, not luxurious. This estancia is listed in the book, ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die, which unfortunately has caused the estancia to float on their reputation somewhat, but it still gets glowing reviews.
Seven km from the intersection of route 41 going down Route 8.
Tel: (54 9 11) 5626-7347
La Bamba Chica—The sister estancia to La Bamba, the first estancia to open it’s doors to tourism in the province, beginning in 1989 (and now closed for restoration). Adequate rooms in a homey atmosphere starting at US$160 per night. The 30-hectare ranch is close to the town center. From Tuesday through Sunday afternoons they also operate an English style teahouse.
Address: Route 8, km 116
(500 meters from the Güiraldes Museum)
Cell: 15-5893-7412 (Buenos Aires, from Mon—Fri 10 am until 4pm)
El Ombu de Areco — One of two of the most famous estancias in town (and the destination of our Estancia Day Tour). El Ombu is known for its beautiful property with old trees, Pablo and his friendly family that run the ranch and delicious asados (barbecued meat feast). The rooms are in a historic building with very high ceilings, and are rustic but clean and comfortable. There are two swimming pools on the sprawling well-kept property as well as horses, dogs, and cats.
Hotels and Posadas:
Paradores Draghi is listed as a designer three-star hotel but with a small size and the friendly Draghi family at the helm, it’s really more like a bed and breakfast.
Airy rooms feature high ceilings and big windows. The onsite pool is a nice hangout in the hot and dusty months. The hotel has beautiful ceramic floors, free wifi, a country-breakfast and an interesting on-site family museum and a silversmith workshop.
Alma de Proa Bed and Breakfast is the only B&B in San Antonio de Areco’s that’s marketed as an ‘eco-friendly’ option. The warm bed and breakfast is in a refurbished historic property a ten minute walk from the main plaza. The B&B features homemade pastries at breakfast, an organic garden and on-site yoga classes and ayurvedic massage and free wifi. Bicycles are free for use by guests. Those with allergies will be glad to know the linens are all made with organic cotton.
Alma de Proa Bed and Breakfast
San Antonio de Areco
Couples on a weekend getaway may want to consider Patio Moreno, a newer hotel in San Antonio de Areco. The minimalist, modern style of the hotel is a bit out of touch with the surrounding pueblo but the hotel goes the distance to compete with the estancias and is popular. At an average of US$145 per night, it is certainly a more sophisticated — even business-like option — compared to the more rustic and homey estancia experience. Reservations recommended.
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There’s an abundance of nice posadas and nice hotels in San Antonio for under $US 100 per night, but since San Antonio de Areco is considered a high-end destination, there is not much competition for backpacker budget lodging.
El Puesto Hostel, three blocks from San Antonio’s main plaza is so peaceful that you will truly get the country experience, chirping crickets and all. The hostel is in an 100 year-old house with leaded glass windows and is tastefully, if sparsely, decorated in country style. It is run by an Argentine-Australian couple and overseen by their a friendly pooch.
Amenities include a garden and swimming pool, wifi and free breakfast. It does close down at some points during the year, so check availability before showing up.
El Puesto Hostel
Tel: (02326) 453-148
Hostel Gaucho enjoys a good location right in front of the river and the ‘old bridge,’ two blocks from the central plaza. The staff is friendly and the hostel is clean, if a bit barren.
Hostel Gaucho *
* if link doesn’t show the hostel, it may be closed for the low season
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