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Few disagree that Buenos Aires is one of the top urban destinations in South America – and it is, arguably, among the top budget destinations in the world.

My wife and I stayed in two apartments in the Palermo Hollywood and the Palermo SoHo districts; the costs were $313 and $375, each for a week. A two-star hostel's cost? About $50 a day ($350 a week). Granted, there are perks to hostel stay – but there is a frenetic do-do-do to hostel living that, in my experience, keeps me from savoring the world's greatest cities.

If trying on a tuxedo can be likened to checking in to a luxury hotel, renting a downtown apartment can be compared to renting a local's entire wardrobe. In Buenos Aires a company, Buenos Aires Stay, has made it affordable and easy to "try on" this elegant, expansive metropolis. The apartments range from shabby-cheap to chic to shabby-chic, ranging from below $200 to above $4000 weekly.

To book our apartments we used buenosairesstay.com, and were helped by a lovely group of Spanish-speaking British expatriates with an immense passion for, and knowledge of, the city and the surrounding campo. Their low administrative fees are easily worth the time they spend “fitting” you to your apartment.

If you feel like splashing out, the website bastay.com offers luxury rentals. For example, a cool $2700 will rent a 280-square-meter five-star penthouse apartment in Palermo Hollywood that combines “sumptuous design” with all the amenities of a five-star hotel (sauna, gym, pool, laundry, concierge).

We budgeted, splurging on the clothes and fascinating Argentine wares of the burgeoning SoHo district’s artists and designers. I completely went off my economic grid, buying custom leather boots from Lopez Taibo, a century-old cobbler, for all of $120 (I have hobbit-wide feet so this was a must).

Boarding the plane with my new shoes, I realized I wasn’t entirely ready to give back the Buenos Aires I had tried on.

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