La Serena, the second oldest colonial city in Chile, founded in 1544, has picturesque architecture, sprawling beaches, an imposing lighthouse and palm-filled Plaza de Armas. It also has plenty of boutique hotels offering everything from barbecues to hot tubs to make your visit extra special. Here’s our pick of the best, all bookable with Culture Trip.
Just across the road from the ocean is Hotel Club La Serena. It’s the perfect setting for recreation, with its copper-coloured clay tennis court, pool framed by flourishing palm trees and inviting sun loungers. Head to Peñuelas Beach for a stroll and a sea dip to start your day before indulging in the gluttonous buffet breakfast spread of cereal, bread, jam, cakes and fruit juice.
Santa Barbara sits on a large plot of land where perfectly-manicured green grass and gorgeous trees surround the central Spanish-style building. There’s a pool to cool off in and a stunning outdoor area with tiled patio which is perfect for lazy days.
With its distinctive bell tower, Hotel Playa Campanario stands out from the crowd. The airy, contemporary rooms have a dapper beach-house feel and there are ocean views from your bed. A bijou internal courtyard with a water fountain at its centre is an ideal spot for sipping coffee or wine, depending on your preference.
Hostal Terra Diaguita is an ode to the history of La Serena and the nearby Elqui Valley. Built from native woods and lake rocks, every inch of this place has been designed with the local area in mind, from the enchanting garden and fire pit to the rustic, tavern-style bar and sumptuous spa offering revitalising massages. The hotel is in the heart of La Serena town, just a couple of blocks from the lush Japanese-style botanical garden and Plaza de Armas.
This hotel will make you feel like you’re staying in your own country home, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet and watch the sun rise or sun sets from your garden. The boutique cabins come equipped with kitchens so you can cook at your leisure, allowing you to spend more of your holiday at the beach, which is only across the road.
The colourful Hostal El Punto will give you a welcome as warm as the yolk-yellow hues of its rooms. Tuck into some homemade cake, vegetarian quiche or a juicy hamburger at the hotel cafe or crank things up a notch with a barbecue using the onsite brazier. Highly recommended while you’re here is a day trip to Humboldt National Park and Isla Damas where you can see the resident penguins, sea lions and, if luck’s on your side, dolphins and whales too.
Eco Lodge El Arbol is all about the expansive gardens, complete with lazy hammocks and a suntrap terrace. The cottage-meets-cabin rooms feature wooden-beamed ceilings and artisan textiles in the form of wall hangings and bedspreads. All of this cosiness is in the most convenient setting, just a short walk from La Serena town centre and the coast.
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Hotel Serena Suite sits conveniently close to La Serena city centre and Peñuela Beach. The earth-toned, comfy rooms will have you feeling right at home and the pristine pool that spans the length of the hotel is a great spot to while away the day. Hot tubs will provide the ultimate relaxation session after time spent strolling around town.
Courtesy of Hotel Francisco De Aguirre / Booking.com
Hotel Francisco de Aguirre is recognised for its architectural heritage and colonial charm. It’s across the street from Pedro de Valdivia Park and the Japanese garden, two of the the city’s thriving green spaces. The rooms are palatial and spacious and the bar is well-stocked with everything from Chilean wines to sodas, best enjoyed by the outdoor pool, which is framed by the hotel’s manicured garden.
If you are looking for a beautiful city rather than the beach, and want to have it right at your doorstep, then Hotel Cristobal Colon will scratch your itch. Just a few blocks from the charming centre, cafes and restaurants, this old-fashioned hotel offers traditional decor with wooden trim and an historic feel.
This apart-hotel is a great option for families or groups who want to be independent and are looking for privacy. The accommodation is basic but has everything you need and is right across from the beach. The enclosed courtyard is a perfect spot for shade and relaxation.
Will Lees has contributed additional reporting to this article.
These recommendations were updated on June 21, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.