When Alan Faena, the former owner of the Argentine fashion brand, Vía Vai, set out to establish the Faena Hotel and Universe in the Puerto Madero neighborhood of Buenos Aires, he was inspired by the idea of creating a specific kind of urban space from scratch. Though his hotel has infused the neighborhood with a lively spirit since 2004, in reality, he did not create the Puerto Madero of the new millennia. He resurrected it.
A modern day reincarnation of a century old former grain silo that was fated for demolition, the Faena adds a heavy touch of artistic opulence to the re-purposed neighborhood. Alan Faena’s intention, in collaboration with uber-talented designer Philippe Starck, was to create a contemporary, cultural haven for modern bohemians and their fans. Heralded for his iconic Ghost Chair, among many other stylized icons, Starck was enlisted to put his stamp on the Faena based on the merits of his quirky, humorous take on style. His knack for taking ordinary forms and exaggerating their composition and dimensions, as well as for pairing extreme elements with simple ones, lend a flamboyant and audacious quality to his work. This is precisely the raison d’etre for Starck’s devout following of admirers and, moreover, why Mr. Faena knew that in the hands of a genius, the hotel would be a magnet for the beautiful people.
If the theatrical quality of the hotel’s ambience is any indication, then certainly, Faena and Starck have succeeded. The hotel is an ode to the senses both visual and visceral. Blood red carpets and gold brocade curtains line the fashion catwalk-like entrance hall. Public spaces boast cushy, red velvet chesterfields, antique Ottoman style lamps and ornate crystal chandeliers, stenciled rough-hewn wood floors and vintage armoires boasting a treasure trove of porcelain and silver. In “El Bistro,” festooned in a 360 degree blinding haze of snowy white, shiny, white lacquered unicorn heads with exaggerated horns and eerie bloodshot eyes adorn the soft curtained walls. In the private spaces, faux baroque white and gold gilded furniture surround beds with gilded claw foot legs, some angled on plush red carpets rimmed with gold borders. Many are equipped with state of the art accoutrements like touch powered automatic drapery and shades, complete home theatre installations with surround sound systems and multiple phone and internet connections. Bathrooms are a sea of glass with crystal casings, marble floors and his and hers showers. The 100+ rooms are, like everything else, designed to invoke sensation in the guests.
On any given night, the pulsating Library Bar sets the tone for the night’s festivities. Preening patrons swirl glasses of rich Argentine Malbec wine while rubbing elbows with BA’s trendy denizens. With two restaurants, a first rate fitness center and spa, and an Olympic size outdoor pool framed by lipstick red cabana awnings, umbrellas and chaise longues, the Faena’s facilities far transcend the standard and are in many ways destinations in themselves.
Hot on the trail of keeping its cool, the Faena is developing its own art district that will include residences and galleries with the hotel as the centerpiece. Que bueno!
Faena Hotel & Universe
Martha Salotti 445
Buenos Aires, Argentina
11 4010 9000