My wife and I are planning a trip to Argentina, which will include a 5 night stay in downtown Buenos Aires. We throught we did our research, and had narrowed down our hotelling neighbourhoods to the northern barrios (Palermo, Recolleta, and Retiro). We are young, of relatively modest means (and frugal to boot), and after considering that we would be taxing to/from sites if in Palermo, and that we would be paying dearly for the (mostly) exorbitant hotel costs in Recoleta, we decided on staying in Retiro. We booked a hotel around the intersection of Av. Santa Fe and Esmeralda. Reviews for the hotel, and others in the area, all rate it as a good neighbourhood and great central location.
But then I get an email from a cousin in B.A. that specifically recommended we stay away from Retiro. I did some further research and found a lot of Retiro bashing, although it's not consistent and seems to be centred around horror stories of affluent (and obvious) tourists getting mugged or otherwise scammed.
I want to know the truth. Be straight up with me. Is the specific area of Retiro I mentioned above dangerous? I do have the option to cancel the hotel booking, but within our price range, the places we have earmarked in the 'safer' Recolleta are also on Santa Fe, but on the west side of Av. 9 de Julio. Will those three to four blocks really make a difference?
For some background: I speak Spanish, and in fact my family is from Argentina, so I am comfortable with communication. My wife doesn't speak English, but we've travelled before and are familiar with not sticking out as tourists. The old 'mustard/bird poop' trick doesn't bother me, because it seems like more of a nuisance than a danger. I am much more concerned with armed robberies, ganging up scenarios, and other potentially life-threatening activity.
Any really specific info would be great, and other impressions of this particular area of 'Retiro' would be good too (I understand the train station is a hazard--but that's without surprise; I've been to many major centres and train/bus stations typically abound with people looking to take advantage of others).
Thanks for your help!