Chile’s star-studded city on the edge of the Valle de Elquí lays on a galaxy of places to stay, from hostels through to luxury hangouts. Here are the best hotels in La Serena – all bookable on Culture Trip.
The Ciudad de los Campanarios (city of the belfries) chimes loudly in northern Chile, having the one of the country’s largest unspoilt old towns, dotted with mesmeric, centuries-old, belltower-topped churches and buildings that project an almost fairytale feel. Add to that some of Chile’s best and most popular beaches, and it becomes apparent why this northern Chilean city on the on the edge of the star- and vineyard-studded Valle de Elquí is a huge hit, especially when you uncover its hotels – befitting of La Serena’s style and general good looks.
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In an imposing, seven-floor edifice, just back from the long, lovely beach of Playa El Faro, Hotel Club La Serena has rooms facing either beach-wards or towards the pool, decked out in sandy and sea-blue tones. It’s hard not to love the dazzling fish-shaped pool, rimmed by stocky palm trees. Your wake-up call each morning will not only be a memorable beach view, but also a divine breakfast featuring berry pots and gooey sweet treats to set you up for the day.
Valle de Elquí, famous among South America backpackers for being the birthplace of Nobel Prize-winning poet Gabriela Mistral, as well as for Pisco production and homestays in enchanting rural villages, is not far from La Serena. If you’re planning to head there, stop by this legendary traveler’s hub, which aims to bring the spirit of Elquí to the city center with an aesthetic of charming rusticity. It sports shared dorms, an attractive rooftop terrace and plant-festooned backyard and book exchange. It also furnishes guests with superb tourist information, and its nightly barbecues are the place to trade tales of your adventures.
South American hacienda style is an attractive look to rock, even more so in a big city. This place has terracotta-tiled roofs, creaky dark-wood floors and furniture, a terrace presiding over a small garden and swimming pool, lending a general air of plant-trailed serenity. There’s even a telescope for guests to train on the heavens – a nod to the region’s fine star-gazing opportunities.
On the western edge of the city center, abutting the peaceful ornamental Japanese garden of Parque Japonés Jardin del Corazón and a short walk from the bus terminal, the peach-hued Hostal el Arbol has small, homey rooms and dorms hung with local weavings, a blaze of color in its garden and a winsome arched courtyard with a barbecue. A decent breakfast is included, and the helpful staff provide abundant tourist information.
The La Fuente has been in the La Serena lodging business since 1992, which is a testimony to the success over the years of this colonial-style, white-walled, terracotta-roofed abode. It’s inspired by the venerable old mansions of the La Serena area, and the 18 spick-and-span self-contained rooms exude a certain period elegance, with wood-beamed ceilings, crafty touches from local creatives and light, bright internal spaces. Its biggest asset, though, is its proximity to the beach. Indeed, you can see the sea straight from the breakfast terrace.
A serendipitous group of clapboard cabins for between two and six people sit among the high rises, a block back from La Serena’s sandy beach. Each is equipped with a basic self-catering kitchen and a little wooden terrace, plus there are barbecue facilities for al fresco cook-ups and garland-string outdoor seating, too. A good option if you’ve gravitated to the area for the beautiful expanses of sand and need a base that comes with a degree of autonomy.
About as conveniently situated as possible to the La Serena bus terminal – gateway to Santiago and other destinations across Chile – bright yellow Hostal Maria Casa is more akin to a homestay than a hotel. Welcoming host Maria invariably greets guests with a freshly squeezed juice, before sharing umpteen local insights, and a general spirit of traveler camaraderie pervades throughout. Best of all perhaps is the sequestered-away garden with its chunky wood tables and seating offering the ideal respite from the city’s buzz.
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