International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
Argentina is football mad, and one of the country’s most famous teams -- the Boca Juniors -- have some of the most passionate and dedicated supporters in the world. Now fans and travellers can take their support one step further by staying at the five-star Hotel Boca in the downtown district of in Buenos Aires, 4.5km from the team’s stadium in the La Boca district.
Opened in April 2012 and being touted as the world’s first football-themed hotel, the 85-room, 17-storey space pays homage to the Boca Juniors and their iconic stadium La Bombonera, with team-influenced design elements running throughout the luxurious interior.
Memorabilia such as antique soccer cleats and vintage club membership cards are scattered around the lobby, and the team’s colours of blue and gold can be seen on everything from the pillows to the art on the walls. There is a painting of a Boca Juniors player on the outside of each hotel room door, and guests have access to a state-of-the-art health club, a heated indoor pool and a sauna.
In an exciting twist for fans, the fifth and sixth floors are reserved for Boca Juniors players during football season (August to May), providing ample opportunity for guests to interact with their idols. The players also have their own lounge to talk football strategy or to dine in private, as well as their own spa.
La Barra Bar serves cocktails such as Lady Boca (gin and tonic infused with Andean herbal tea) and traditional match foods like pizza de cancha (a pizza with tomato sauce and oregano) and choripan (an Argentine sausage sandwich). Guests also have the option to dine at La Boca Restaurant, which serves traditional and contemporary Argentine cuisine such as bife de chorizo con escalibada de pimientos (sirloin strip steak with grilled seasoned peppers) and trucha rellena (trout stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and garlic).
Tim Fitzgerald is the Buenos Aires Localite for BBC Travel. He also writes gringoinbuenosaires.com.