We travel, supposedly, to know the heart of a place, to find what is unique about each corner of the world. In our globalized world, however, especially when visiting big cities, we tend to get, in reality, a bit of many worlds.
Two weeks ago I was in Buenos Aires for the Ventana Sur film market. Knowing the big city only too well, I decided to find a hotel near Puerto Madero, where the event was taking place, as I knew that staying in a different neighborhood would be madness considering the metropolis` crazy traffic.
While searching online, I casually stumbled upon a Bed and Breakfast that looked quite intriguing in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo, right by the side of Puerto Madero. The owners appeared to be reliable judging from our email communications, and the building was a restored wonder with antique furniture that instantly reminded me of Paris the minute I crossed the impressive wooden door at the front.
I made my decision based on the owners` email etiquette, the location, and some photos I saw on their website. As soon as I settled down in my beautiful room, I realized why I seldom stay at large hotels unless I absolutely must. Some hotels can be cold and impersonal. My Buenos Aires bed and breakfast was exactly the opposite of that. During all my time there, I truly felt like I was living in old-time Paris.
I had my delicious breakfast in the sun every morning. My hosts were delightful, and I even got to practice my German on my last day there, when I shared the breakfast table with an old German adventurer. As for the many worlds, I saw a huge Uruguayan candombe feast on San Telmo streets, and I did feel like I was living in Paris, but everything had an unforgettable Buenos Aires feel, the people of my neighboring city are quite simply full of life, and it is a pleasure to feel their contagious energy.
I had never been very aware of the fact that I had never really stayed at a Bed and Breakfast, so, some things took some getting used to. For example, breakfast times could vary a little, and I technically had to share a bathroom, although, as I was the only guest on my side of the house during most of my stay, in reality I did get my own private bathroom, which was, by the way, immaculately clean and supplied with abundant toiletries. Then there was the issue of checking out and leaving my bags there during the day. I wasn´t able to do this, because the owners were not going to be at home when I needed to get them back. These kinds of things took me by surprise, and the B&B style may take some adjusting for people who are not used to it. However, I would sacrifice any of the comforts of an impersonal hotel for the warmth and charm of a great B&B, like the one my hosts Ada and Valentyn are running in Buenos Aires.
Needless to say the quality of the rooms and facilities you get at a B&B are usually far superior to those you might find in a hotel for the same price.
The B&B culture is extremely widespread, and one can just as easily find a quaint London bed and breakfast as a great one in Madrid or Berlin. For me, B&B means 4-star treatment for the price of a 3-star hotel, and there can never be anything wrong with that.