Stepping off a busy Monserrat street into an elegant lobby, gliding across clean marble floor, past men in suits and manicured ladies sipping champagne, you feel a million miles away from the gritty La Boca neighbourhood. But, this is the new Boca Juniors Hotel: a US$25 million, five-star hotel, which opened last week and claims to be the first football-themed hotel in the whole world.
The 7-floor, 85-room hotel is based on Boca Juniors Football Club, evident in the ever-present blue and yellow team colours, which run throughout the hotel, from the pillows to the swimming pool tiles. It’s not the most flattering colour lay out in my view, but if you’re a Boca fan, it gives you the chance to bask in your team’s colours everywhere.
Fans can also enjoy the Boca ‘bubbles’ – semi circular tubes displaying Boca paraphernalia – found in the main hallways on each floor, while each bedroom TV has a Boca channel, telling you everything you could ever want to know about the club.
Down in the bar, five parallel screens show the infamous Boca fans filling up the Estadio Alberto J. Armando (or ‘La Bombonera’), insanely cheering their team on, jumping as one quite unsettlingly like an organ, then clearing out again – matchday at the Boca club all speeded up. This scene is played over an over again while the clients of the five-star, US$155-$600 a night hotel sip their cosmopolitans: it makes you wonder how many of the fans on the screen could stay at this hotel.
Aside from that… it’s just a normal top range hotel. It’s accessible and smart; you don’t have to be a Boca fan to enjoy it. There’s nothing particularly spectacular about the hotel either, aside from the truly beautiful architecture, which is worth a visit alone.
Designed by award-winning Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, whose previous projects include the MALBA museum, the Opéra Bastille in Paris, and Wenzhou Grand Theatre in China, Hotel Boca carries his very distinctive style. Contrasting futuristic curves and straight, clean parallel lines, it wouldn’t look out of place in Dubai, and standing out amongst the Microcentro skyline, it clearly aims to make a statement.
Inside, the bar is small and well stocked. If you sit in the corner, you can look up through the glass ceiling at all the healthy people in the gym and smugly carry on sipping your drink. If relaxing is more your thing, just beyond the gym is an indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam-room, and spa.
The rooms are minimalist chic, with white and beige muted furniture and décor – as a football hotel, it’s not really what’s expected. Notable extras are the Nespresso coffee maker, tea menu, and a DVD menu (for when you get bored of the reading facts on the Boca channel).
The hotel rooms on the higher floors are really worth the extra lift ride, however, as the glass windows reaching floor to ceiling gives a pretty good view over the city. I lie, the view is absolutely amazing. This is one of the real perks of the hotel, where the central position means, day or night, the cityscape is there for your own personal pleasure. This view can enjoyed lying on your bed, sitting in the comfy sofa seats, and even in the bath.
Overall, it’s a really nice, fancy hotel, and it’s possible to get a room without an extortionate price tag – although I would say it’s probably more higher-end four star than a full five star lodging. Being a football hotel, it could have been a hell of a lot tackier, though the football players painted in full Grecian god-like glory on the each bedroom door is a bit much for me. But then again, for others, calling home to boast that you’re “in the Diego Maradona suite” might be the highlight of staying.