La Bamba de Areco

Gracious, serene, equestrian-chic

Route 31 Km 7 5, San Antonio De Areco, Buenos Aires 02760


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At a Glance

Visitors to Buenos Aires can complement their time in the city with an excursion to this pedigreed polo retreat about an hour's drive away, where it is still possible to glimpse Argentina's colonial past in the landscape of its storied interior grasslands, the Pampas.


At the end of an hour's journey from the capital and a drive lined with hundred-year-old plane trees, La Bamba de Areco's arriving guests are welcomed by a receiving line of staff, including a personal host responsible for their stay. From the very beginning, one feels less like a hotel guest at La Bamba than that of a prosperous and doting uncle who knows how to entertain—the kind one might encounter in Jane Austen's novels or a South American adaptation of Downton Abbey.

Through a landscaped courtyard with wrought-iron gates and climbing vines sits the estancia's main building or casco, once a post-house on the Camino Real (the "Royal Road" that linked the port of Buenos Aires to the Viceroyalty of Peru in the 19th century). Low-slung and flame-red with neat white trim, it stands out dramatically from surrounding pastures and emerald polo fields.

The estancia's eleven guest rooms, each named for a different celebrity polo pony, were renovated—brilliantly—in 2009. White, wide-windowed interiors and plush bedding appeal to 21st-century tastes, while antique bed-frames, inlaid period dressers and lovely black-and-white-tiled bathroom floors situate them beautifully in context. Instead of TVs and telephones, there are fabulous vintage textiles, art books and soaking tubs.

Time on the Pampas is measured in meals, and La Bamba's guests dine like spoiled estancieros. Breakfast, served in the handsomely restored pulpería, whose 17th-century brick walls display contemporary equestrian photographs, is a lavish spread of warm medialunas, homemade marmalades and dulce de leche. Once a stable and informal gaucho inn, the estancia's oldest structure is also ideal for evening cocktails by the open fire. It's the midday asado, however, that's the culinary main event. Guests convene at long picnic tables in the open-plan summer pavilion for a traditional outdoor feast of rustic, flaky empanadas, steak with chimichurri, oregano-flecked provoleta and plenty of Argentine wine.

Between meals, guests can watch astonishing horse-whispering demonstrations or pick-up polo scrimmages (the estancia is home to a championship team and hosts informal "chukkas" almost everyday between the months of September and April). La Bamba's hardy criollo horses are nearly as pampered as its guests, and there is no better way to experience the estancia than on horseback. From the outdoor picnic tables or the pool deck, one often spies a parade of returning riders silhouetted against the tremendous Pampas sky, led by a poncho-clad gaucho and a troop of merry Labradors.

History buffs can also visit the heritage town of San Antonio de Areco, just thirteen kilometers from the estate. Argentina's unofficial capital of gaucho lore, Areco is home to a permanent population of legacy craftsmen—master leatherworkers and silversmiths whose trades have been handed down for generations—as well as a museum dedicated to the writer Ricardo Güiraldes, whose 1926 Don Segundo Sombra fixed the figure of the gaucho firmly in Argentina's literary imagination (San Antonio de Areco is famously the birthplace of the novel's gaucho-protagonist).

The prevailing mood at La Bamba is peaceful-pastoral; guests who have mastered the art of stylish repose will find themselves in their element. Often the best way to approach an overnight here is to channel the leisure classes of yesteryear—settle into a comfy couch with an invigorating mate and a hand-woven blanket, go for a walk through the parklands in the late afternoon when the plane trees' shadows lash the golden light, take in storybook-striated sunsets from an aptly-positioned Adirondack chair, enjoy a game of bochas (Argentine bocce) or billiards and allow yourself to ease into the seductive rhythm of country house meals.

Who Should Stay

Families with teenage children and couples craving a sophisticated country escape. La Bamba adheres to a strict age-minimum, even for day-trippers; travelers with children under twelve can contact Indagare's Bookings Team for help planning a family-friendly estancia visit.

Written by Cabell Belk

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