Although Buenos Aires doesn’t have many major tourist attractions, hundreds of thousands of people visit Argentina’s capital every year to catch a tango show, explore the city’s many unique neighborhoods, and eat some of the world’s best steak.
The majority of tourists base themselves in the bustling city centre– a concrete jungle with large European-style buildings, government offices, and chain restaurants.
Some cities in South America (and probably the rest of the world) have certain hostels that gain notoriety amongst the backpacking community. Places like the Wild Rover hostels in Bolivia and Peru, the Happy Buddha in Medellín and, in Buenos Aires, the Milhouse hostels all have a few things in common: a capacity for hundreds of guests per night, a party reputation, and tons of Bros.
Most backpackers stay at one of the Milhouse hostels for at least part of their stay in Buenos Aires. Because of their broad name recognition, many consider it a safe choice. The sister hostels are located within a five minute walk of each other in the heart of the city centre. They organize daily activities like city tours, free tango lessons, pub crawls, and parties in the hostel bar, which can get pretty lively.
Like party hostels have a tendency of doing, the Milhouse sucks you in. You go down to the bar for a drink where you realize it’s happy hour and they’re offering two-for-ones. “Awesome, it’s so cheap!” you think. Then you order two more, then they offer you a free shot and all of a sudden it’s 4 am before you stumble upstairs and clamber clumsily onto your top bunk after nearly tripping on someone’s backpack in the crowded dorm. Around 11 the next morning, you finally roll out of bed and order breakfast from the hostel’s mediocre but convenient kitchen. By mid-afternoon you might go out and see some of the city– or maybe you don’t– before heading back to the bar to do it all over again.
It took me a few tries to realize– and my stay at the Milhouse contributed to this realization– that a good location score on Hostelworld didn’t necessarily guarantee I would like the location, nor if a particular hostel had notoriety did it mean I would like staying there. While I sometimes enjoyed spending a night or two at places like that, it’s important to me to experience the real city– not just hang out in a bubble full of other tourists. So, after spending two nights at the Milhouse Hipo, I decided to move to another hostel in the Palermo neighborhood for the rest of my stay in BA.
The quiet streets of Palermo are lined with mature trees and buildings whose walls are covered in colorful street art. At night, young Porteños come to enjoy artisan cocktails and small plates “para picar”– think Spanish tapas– at one of the many trendy restaurants there, before dancing late into the night at one of the discotecas.
Porteño (n.) - person from Buenos Aires
WHERE TO STAY
I chose to stay at Back in BA hostel because it had the best combination of amenities and price in Palermo. It’s a small, basic hostel with a kitchen, friendly staff, and nice courtyard where everyone hung out playing cards and drinking beer. The best part, though, was the location near many cool places to shop and eat.
The biggest drawback for Back in BA was that it was about a ten minute walk from the metro, but I felt comfortable walking around alone in the area, so I didn’t mind.
For backpackers on a budget who want to experience more of the “real” Buenos Aires, Back in BA hostel is, overall, a much better value than the Milhouse. Prices for a dorm bed are similar at both hostels; however, at Back in BA, they allow guests to bring in their own beer (the Milhouse does not), they offer free breakfast with DIY eggs (the Milhouse has a relatively cheap, but still not free breakfast menu), and the bar, restaurant, and shopping scene in the city centre does not even compare to that of the charming Palermo neighborhood.
Regardless of whether you stay at Back in BA or elsewhere, I recommend staying in Palermo over the city centre to everyone.
Questions or comments on the best places to stay in Buenos Aires? Drop a comment below!
The views and opinions of this post are my own and I was not commissioned to write this review. This article was written solely for the purpose of helping others enjoy their travel experience as much as possible.