The Mansión Dandi Royal in San Telmo is the place to stay for the tango infatuated looking to dance their way through Buenos Aires. It’s especially geared toward those who adore the sultry dance but perhaps don’t speak Spanish, and want to have someone else take care of the details. It’s also a great anniversary destination for a couple who met on the dance floor.
At first blush this theme hotel can seem like a kitschy gimmick, in the business of ‘tango for export’, but it’s set in a classic 1903 mansion oozing architectural detail and the instructors at the on-site tango school are the real deal. The school is directed by Héctor B. Villalba, a dancer of traditional Argentine tango for 60 years, and a guru in the San Francisco Bay Area tango scene.
The 30-room hotel has three gorgeous ballrooms with original hardwood floors for classes and events. Each room has a hand-painted mural depicting a tango scene, but some of the rooms are rather four-star quality in an otherwise five-star experience. Those who can afford it may want to opt for the higher priced rooms.
The best value is the three-night package, which includes airport pickup, one private dance class and one group class, transport to an authentic milonga to practice or a Broadway style tango show with dinner. Every Wednesday evening in the high season the Dandi Royal Academy also hosts a milonga open to guests and the general public.
Visitors who just arrived in Buenos Aires for the first time may be a bit startled when they go out to explore the scruffy surrounding neighborhood as it’s 100 years past it’s heyday, but it’s the barrio that birthed the tango, so you’re right where you should be. Those who stay over the weekend can check out the nearby San Telmo Street Fair a few blocks away.
Multilingual receptionist, Fabian Mecle is especially adored by guests and thanks in part to his warmth and attention to detail, the Mansion Dandi Royal receives a number of return visitors. Others, having gotten a taste of tango at the Dandi on their first trip, stay elsewhere with the confidence that they can handle the milongas on their own.
The Dandi Royal is not for everyone – those who shudder at the thought of showing up in a minivan to their first real Buenos Aires’ milonga for instance. And those who have studied ballroom style or Tango Nuevo should be prepared to erase everything they’ve learned and get ready to immerse themselves in the spontaneous style of classic Argentine tango.
If at the end of your stay, the Dandi’s 10a.m. checkout time seems too early, congratulations– those late nights mean you’re well on your way to becoming a real milonguero.
Mansion Dandi Royal and Tango Academy-$$$$
4361-3537 / 4307-7623