How would you describe Home Hotel in a nutshell?
You’ll have found your home away from home when arriving at Home Hotel in hip Palermo Hollywood in Buenos Aires. It’s a trendy boutique hotel with a relaxing atmosphere and super attentive staff. You’ll like the French vintage wallpaper and retro Scandinavian-style furniture in their 16 guestrooms and 4 suites. They have a beautiful wild garden with a swimming pool, an all-natural spa. Breakfast is included, their kitchen makes delicious tapas and they even have a cocktail bar. Or you could also venture out and explore the neighboring cool bars and fusion eateries that the district is famous for.
Please tell us a bit about how Home Hotel got started.
At the time, my husband was a producer in the music industry, but with music downloads becoming more popular, there wasn’t much left to do for a producer anymore. Musicians now aren’t spending a lot of time in the studio, they tour instead. Our future prospects didn’t look good.
Our friends would come visit us in Palermo and they were always looking for hotels when they visited. We were trying to find a place where everyone could stay but there wasn’t a suitable hotel in the area. Argentina in 2002 was so cheap. The properties had come down in price, which is not that common in Argentina, so we decided to do a hotel.
We were the first boutique hotel to open with all the services. Now there are dozens of boutique hotels, but at the time it was a very new idea. We were sort of the pioneers of it in this area.
I love the interior of Home Hotel. How would you describe it?
Home Hotel is modern with a hint of retro. We worked with two architects, and for two years while the hotel was being built, we went to a lot of flea markets to look for specific things. We also designed some of the furniture. Three months before opening, we put it all together.
One of the things we insisted upon was working with vintage wallpaper. It was 2003, when wallpaper wasn’t as fashionable as it is today. Every single room has vintage wallpaper — anything from 1923 onward. We’ve got French, German, 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. We had been collecting them for years and they’re all original.
What would you describe to be the spirit of Home Hotel?
It’s sort of a hip place without the attitude. Sometimes you get these hotels that are super cool, but you don’t feel very well looked after. When a place is fashionable, there’s usually an attitude. It’s hard to find somewhere nice where you can walk in wearing a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and find the staff friendly (unless you’re somebody important or famous).
How would you like your vacation guests to remember their stay?
The big thing with Home Hotel, that also has to do with the name, is that it’s a hotel with personality and with a certain energy. It doesn’t look like an architect’s rendering. That’s a mistake that many other hotels make. Tom and I are really passionate about architecture and design, so maybe other owners don’t have that. There are a lot of hotels in the area now, but they don’t have any personality. They’re expensive, but you don’t see that personal touch.
We offer some of the things that remind you of home — you feel safe and warm. It’s not cold. Everything is done with clean lines and green and lots of light. That’s the difference to other hotels, and most people get it because they choose to stay here.
Tell me a bit about ‘Green Home’ please.
Home Hotel is proud to have pioneered ‘eco-design’ and many other environmentally-friendly business practices to the Buenos Aires hotel scene. This ranges from avoiding unnecessary waste and using reusable packaging where possible to extensive energy saving measures throughout the hotel and donating out of use items to local hospitals and non-profit organisations.
All Home staff receive training about running an environmentally-conscious business and we inspect the factories and offices of our suppliers, such as laundry services, to ensure a good level of cleanliness and that the workers are treated well.
We also play an active role in our community and support our local food shops when we put together our natural restaurant menu.
Please tell us a bit about Buenos Aires, its culture and people.
It’s one of the largest cities in the world. There are many different sides to Buenos Aires. The city center is a place where it’s crazy during the day. It’s quite dirty, but very charming as well because of the architecture. Although, at night, it’s not a good place to be.
But you can enjoy Buenos Aires amidst all the craziness. It’s a city of walking and hanging out, watching people in cafés. It’s not a city where you do your checklist.
And you also offer different tours around Buenos Aires?
You can do a running tour, a bicycle tour, a bus tour or a tour in a vintage car. There’s also a huge scene of street art — graffiti — here and we have some friends who do a tour called Graffitimundo where you get to meet the artists.
To you personally, what has been most rewarding about running Home Hotel?
We went on blind faith that it was going to work, call it naïve, but we never thought it would fail. So it’s rewarding that we accomplished this.
We have had a lot of national attention with the Wallpaper Award for best new hotel in 2007. That was a big reward for us, as Wallpaper is sort of the Bible to us. When it came out in the ‘90s, it was very revolutionary at the time. That award was a big pat on the back. We’ve had a lot of press recognition from Condé Nast Traveler and all those sort of magazines. We’ve won several other awards since too.
It’s an extremely hard business because you’re playing with people’s dreams — their holidays — so everything has to be perfect. If you mess up once, you mess up someone’s holiday. But at the end of the day, the thing that really still touches us is when somebody really appreciates the design and details and lets us know, because we spend a lot of time on detail.