When I first started travel hacking, I wasn’t very interested in collecting hotel points. I loved to use Airbnb (still do – when not staying in hotels), and prided myself on finding free places to stay via friends.  But that changed when I opened my first Hilton card and stayed at my first luxury hotel on points – the Conrad Algarve in Portugal.  that completely opened my eyes.  We were upgraded to a room that should have cost 1500 Euros (yes EUROS) a night – and paid nothing.  We were living like the 1% – including eating the fanciest gourmet breakfast each morning I have ever experienced to date (also free thanks to my credit card giving me gold status).  Since then I rack up just as many hotel points as I do airline miles.

I particularly enjoy staying at Hilton hotels – especially their high end offerings.  I have yet to stay at a Starwood hotel, and from what I hear that might bump Hilton out of the number one spot, but until then I try to collect hilton points whenever I can.  And there are many ways you can earn Hilton points – both by opening Hilton credit cards, and transferring from bank reward cards, such as the Chase Sapphire.  My most recent use of Hilton points was last month, when my husband and I stole away for a week date trip in Buenos Aires.  I made sure I left my Hilton Reserve credit card account open a bit past the 1 year anniversary (I got the annual fee credited back once we got home) – this made sure we would still have gold status and get free wifi and breakfast.

We greatly enjoyed our stay at the modern, clean and comfortable boutique hotel Buenos Aires Anselmo in the heart of San Telmo, a fun and quirky artistic neighborhood. The hotel is right on quaint Plaza Dorrego where free tango happens daily and where the famous Sunday antique market is based (don’t miss that – it stretches for almost a mile down the street from the square!)  There are many antique stores and boutiques in this area – as well as lots of street art and restaurants.  It’s also a short walk to the Puerto Madero, the area by the canal, which is an old industrial port that has been renovated into a fancy area with modern high end hotels, restaurants and paths along the canal.

The hotel staff were extremely helpful, and always courteous and easy to talk to. They went out of their way to accommodate our every need.  The breakfasts (which were free due to our Hilton Gold status) were delicious with wonderful options including some of the best cheese I’ve had in a long time.  The fruit was always incredible as well – and always hot items to choose from.  Our room was one of the bigger corner rooms and was beautifully designed, great decor – and incredibly spacious. It was easy to sleep well there – very quiet and good blackout curtains.  Our bed was very comfortable and the showers were hot.  What more can you ask for?  The hallways even smelled good (seriously it smelled faintly like a sophisticated men’s cologne – very subtle, not overpowering at all).

One of the best things about staying here was the restaurant/wine bar. This is a new hotel, and it seemed like people weren’t yet fully aware of the absolutely delicious, gourmet offerings provided by  talented Chef Dave Soady, who is an American expat from Washington DC.  This is a hidden gem that needs to be discovered. The menu was incredible, as were the food presentation and flavors.  We were so impressed that we ate there three times during our one week stay – and we are the types who never eat in the same restaurant twice while traveling because we want to try as many different things as we can.  The filet mignon was to die for, cooked to perfection and served with roasted brussel sprouts and a pumpkin puree that cannot easily be described. Delicious.  We also tried the fabulous goat cheese and arugula pizza with squash sauce and tomato confit…. Wow.  And then there was the warm brie cheese encrusted in polenta and served with honey and lavender drizzled on top.  Had to have that appetizer twice.  The other appetizer we tried, the warm braised endive salad with blue cheese and candied hazelnuts, was equally succulent.  And my husband just about died when he tasted the banana tahini soup. He’s still raving about that one! And of course they offer an excellent selection of wines, seeing that this is a wine bar.  Our meals here easily rivaled top dining experiences that we’ve had in Paris, New York and London. Chef Soady is a true culinary artist.

Overall the Anselmo was a great place to stay – great value for the average cost of around $150 a night, and a complete steal on points.  Once again Hilton did not disappoint – we had a wonderful experience.  Guess they will be staying in my number one spot for a while yet.

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