‘It’s just so Buenos Aires,’ says the endearingly camp German owner Gerd Tepass as he leans over the counter dressed in a wife-beater.
The good news, or bad news, depending on your point of view, is that this is one of the most popular hotels in Buenos Aires for porn and glamour magazine shoots. Playboy calls it the most exotic and erotic hotel in the city. Gerd will proudly flip through the magazines – including a Taiwanese title – with guests during check-in and will probably tell you he is currently considering offers from television companies to shoot hardcore porn here.
So far he has resisted a $3,000 daily fee for renting out a room as a Harry Horndog set. So there is still at least an air of cleanliness about the place. Formerly the Boquita Pintadas hotel, inspired by Manuel Puig’s novel, the Youkali is named after Jewish German composer Kurt Weill’s tango song ‘Youkali’, about a land of longing that doesn’t exist. And the hotel itself is appropriately inconspicuous in Constitución, on the borders of tango central San Telmo.
Of the five rooms, the Ruwenzori room, whose bed is decorated with carvings of the heads of Egyptian princesses, is most popular. All rooms are spacious, with rustic en-suite bathrooms in turn-of-the-century style, and come equipped with DVD players and, crucially, air conditioning. But as Gerd puts it: ‘It’s the real Buenos Aires life. Actors, film producers and musicians love it here.’ The plumbing, however, is currently being reviewed.