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Despite an impressive array of resorts, Chile has so far not been recognised for its more arty accommodation options. . With Santiago continuously enriching its collection of atmospheric boutique choices and Valparaiso quickly re-emerging as an exciting cultural center, Chile is back on the map for culture lovers.
A former Spanish Mission-style mansion, built in 1
27 for a Chilean political family, and its neighbouring art deco building come together to make up The Aubrey, a boutique hotel at the foot of the San Cristóbal Hill. Located in the bohemian Bellavista neighbourhood, which is packed with intellectuals, artists and avant-garde galleries, the hotel is a short stroll to Nobel Prize poet Pablo Neruda’s old house La Chascona. It offers fifteen en-suite bedrooms, old Mission-style outdoor patio terraces with medieval stone arches and a restaurant that, back in the day, was the setting for the Legendary Thursday Political Lunches of leading socio-political Santiago figures. These are just a few features that make this hotel a must stay, before you head off for some live jazz and Chilean music in the nearby cafes.
Constitución 299 – 317, Bellavista, +56229402800.
In the romantic period setting of a 1950s construction in Santa Cruz, amidst the vineyards of Colchagua Valley, you will sample Merlot and Pinot—or sleep in them. Hotel Vendimia offers eight beautiful colonial rooms named after Chile’s most prestigious wines, all featuring abundant period details (king-size colonial cots, antique mirrors, upholstered chairs, enamelled teapots). It is the first hotel in the sixth region which has obtained the Quality Tourism Label awarded by SERNATUR, Chile’s National Tourism Service. From the hotel you can depart on adventurous wine tasting in the surrounding plantations, or visit the Colchagua Museum – the largest private museum in Latin America, holding Carlos Cardoen Cornejo’s awe-inspiring collection of pre-Columbian art, mapuche silver objects and 20th century machinery.
Ismael Valdés 92, Santa Cruz, VI Region, +56 72 282 2464.
On Chiloé Island, where life first started about 7000 years ago, lies the enchanting Castro—Chile’s third oldest continuously inhabited city. Among the World Heritage Site churches—an outstanding example of ecclesiastical wooden architecture in the Americas—and the bustling Plaza des Armas, blossoms the town’s most colorful site: its picturesque palafitos (stilt houses made out of native wood). A restored long-legged structure itself, Mi Palafito is a quaint ‘Aparthotel’ that can house up to 9 people, from where you can watch (and even feel) the tide twice a day, while thumbing through a book from its small collection. The town also holds the noteworthy Museum of Modern Art of Chiloé, which you can explore after a delicious breakfast of bread and jam made on the spot.
Ernesto Riquelme 1210, Castro, Isla Chiloe, 005665634878.
A small boutique hotel on Valparaiso’s Cerro Allegre hill, with spectacular views over the Pacific Ocean (four of its nine rooms face the bay), Zerohotel is a true architectural gem in a trendy area of the culturally re-emerging historic port. French window frames and stained glass windows, wooden floorboards, a stylish outdoor deck and a small pool give it plenty of comfort and character, in a heady mix enhanced by the hotel’s Honesty Bar (remember to note your dues). Since the picturesque old town, with its cobbled streets and charming murals and facades, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there has been great effort by both the cultural and hotel sectors to enrich and upgrade the true Valparaiso experience and Zerohotel is well ahead of the game in this regard.
Lautaro Rosas 343, Valparaíso, (56-32) 211 3113.
In Viña del Mar, a Vineyard By The Sea in Chile’s central Pacific Coast, Ágora Hotel lies a few steps from the city’s staple art deco casino, and a few blocks from the ample and popular Acapulco beach. Immersed in sweet pastel colours and crowded with quirky furniture and a collection of surreal paintings and black and white photography, it is an arty value-for-money option for those eager to discover the city’s culture. Viña del Mar International Song Festival, held in the Quinta Vergara amphitheatre since the 1960’s, is a major music event in the Americas and the Fonck Museum has an interesting collection of objects from native villages.
5 1/2 Poniente 253 – Viña del Mar, 56-322694669.
One final Providencia gem, this revamped 1940s mansion boasts a Victorian-style conservatory perfect for a relaxed breakfast, floral and wooden features and worn white antiques that give you a feel of French countryside in the middle of Santiago. Undeniably elegant, yet super warm, it will cater to all your needs—like inviting you to one of those wonderful wingback chairs, ideal after a long museum tour. It also offers one of the best deals in a trendy and arty barrio—which means it is always wise to book ahead.
Av. Pedro de Valdivia 027, Providencia/ Santiago,