The Singular Santiago
Step into the decadent lounge bar at The Singular, which doubles as reception, and you find yourself in a faultlessly stylish world that blends the classic and the contemporary, with the rooftop infinity pool being the crowning touch of luxury. The 62 rooms at this design-driven hotel come in three categories: snug Patio rooms, Classic rooms with touches of Asian influence, and ultra-spacious Singular rooms and Singular Suites. Expect a neutral color scheme here, with fine fabrics, large windows, and an emphasis on creature comforts. These include king-sized beds and iPod docking stations compatible with both British and US AC power sockets. The suite comes equipped with not one but two marble-paneled bathrooms, both with large tubs.
As befitting a modern, artistic hotel, you can find The Singular in the heart of Santiago's trendiest neighborhood, Barrio Lastarria. Many boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and cafés surround it. However, dining at least once at Restaurant The Singular, where French-inspired dishes are recreated using the best of Chile's seasonal produce. There's a full array of relaxation treatments at the hotel's spa, the gym is open around the clock, and it's well worth your heading up to the rooftop pool and bar to afford views of the snow-tipped peaks surrounding Santiago. It's the perfect spot for a sundowner.
The first urban-design hotel in Santiago's historic downtown area, the Magnolia is a seamless blend of old and new, combining a 1920s neo-Gothic facade, marble staircases, and antique armoires with chequered black-and-white marble floors, steel-and-wire walkways, and ultra-modern light fixtures. It's the former home of the daughter of one of Chile's most prominent politicians and features a beautiful library and a rooftop bar overlooking Santa Lucia Hill.
There's a neutral color scheme to the 42 large rooms and suites, and design features include handcrafted headboards made of native woods and painted with Patagonian landscapes. Although there are numerous eating options in downtown Santiago, you can also dine in at the glass-roofed Magnolia Kitchen, which specializes in modern Chilean dishes such as hake with pumpkin puree and octopus with yellow chili sauce. The bar serves Chile's signature pisco sour cocktail with a twist: here, they're prepared with avocado and radish. There's also no shortage of wines from boutique vineyards.
This four-story, 1920s mock-Tudor mansion sits at the foot of San Cristóbal Hill and is the former home of a renowned politician. It is Santiago's first-ever boutique hotel, lovingly restored over three years and opening its doors again in 2010. Today it's an intimate hotel with personalized service, and 15 rooms are spread over two buildings. Many original features are still intact, including parquet floors, exposed beams, and grand wooden staircases. Each of the rooms is individually decorated, from the spacious, monochrome Manarelli room, to the loft rooms with their splashes of bright color. There are also the smaller (yet no less luxurious) Constitución and Pavilion rooms, the latter of which feature animal-themed murals done by local artists on the walls. Rain showers are de rigueur, and an al fresco whirlpool tub graces the patio of one of the Pavilion rooms.
The location—at the northeast corner of Barrio Bellavista—is a winner. The Aubrey is a couple of blocks away from two major attractions: the 1925 funicular that runs steeply to the top of San Cristóbal hill, where you can connect to the cable car for tremendous views of the metropolis below, and La Chascona, the quirky former residence of Chile's beloved Nobel laureate poet, Pablo Neruda. Formerly the city's red light district, Bellavista is now Santiago's bohemian enclave, with a vibrant nightlife, numerous boutiques, and avant-garde galleries. And if you wish to explore farther afield, the nearest metro stop is just a few blocks south of the hotel.
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Hotel Ismael 312
Located in the aforementioned cultural and artistic hub of Barrio Lastarria, the Ismael 312, an edgy design hotel, overlooks one of the city's largest green lungs—Parque Forestal—while being mere steps from several top art galleries. The stone-and-glass facade hides a single suite and 43 contemporary, minimalist rooms where floor-to-ceiling windows and the sparseness of furnishings make ample use of space and light. The few high-end furnishings—excellent beds, leather sofas, Valdes chairs at the desks—are chosen with attention to detail, and all rooms come with private balconies. The standard rooms are compact, and splurging on one with a park view is worth your money.
As for design, indigenous textiles define the common areas, and the 3D map of Santiago's districts, hanging on the wall of the lounge, resembles a piece of abstract art. The service is slick and helpful, and you get great views of Barrio Lastarria from the rooftop pool and bar. For classic art, two blocks west is the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (fine art museum), but if you're looking for contemporary photography, art, and sculpture, the Museo de Artes Visuales (visual art museum) is half a block away, and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (museum of contemporary art) is a short metro ride away. As for other major attractions, Santa Lucia Hill is five minutes south, and the main Plaza de Armas and Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (pre-Columbian art museum) are five city blocks west.
Hotel Paris Londres
The affordable, atmospheric Hotel Paris Londres sits on a pedestrian-only cobbled street in Santiago's Paris-Londres neighborhood in the historic center—the part of town that most resemble a European capital city. A long-time budget traveler favorite, this handsome building dates back to 1929 and boasts 26 rooms. All come with high ceilings, parquet floors, plenty of natural light (thanks to large windows), and antique touches like gramophones, vintage cameras, and clocks. Some of the rooms are en-suite, while the rest share bathrooms.
The hotel's historical credentials aside, there is a good WiFi connection throughout (though it tends to work better in the common areas), and a continental breakfast is served on the roof terrace. There are plenty of dining options within two or three city blocks, and the location is handy both for public transit (the main metro line is two blocks away) and sightseeing. Santa Lucia Hill, the main square, the presidential palace, and the city's best museum are all within a few minutes walk. Though some of the staff are more fluent in English than others, all can advise on nearby attractions and book airport transfers and taxis.
Le Rêve Boutique Hotel
Located in a quiet enclave in the upmarket Providencia neighborhood, the Le Rêve is an elegant, vine-covered 19th-century mansion that's a tranquil escape from the city's bustle. You'll find 31 rooms and suites with marble-and-glass bathrooms, light-wood furniture, and lemon-striped wallpaper inside. Floor-to-ceiling French doors open out either onto the quiet street or the greenery-filled courtyard; a bonus is that the superior rooms and suites have their own balconies.
In keeping with its 19th-century, French-style mansion ambience, Le Rêve is all understated luxury. There is no pool or spa, but there's a delightful lounge with an honesty bar for predinner drinks, and the service is warm and personalized. The excellent breakfast spread in the courtyard includes eggs cooked to order, cereals, and fresh fruit. The hotel has a convenient location in eastern Santiago, close to the embassies. There are a few restaurants and bars a short walk away, but if you're looking for more choices, you're just four metro stops away from the restaurant hot zone of Barrio Lastarria and the nightlife of Barrio Bellavista.
Hostal Boutique CasAltura
This two-story colonial mansion dates back to the early 20th century. Converted into a hostel, the CasAltura has been receiving guests for almost 40 years. It's run by the fifth-generation descendant of the Lezaeta Roldan family, who originally occupied the building with their 14 children. It's a cavernous home with 19 rooms with a mix of double, triple, single, and dorm-style rooms (some of the rooms share bath facilities). Though the mansion has been thoroughly restored and modernized, some original touches remain, like polished parquet floors and the odd antique rocking chair. The helpful, multilingual staff are happy to advise on sightseeing, and some other perks include comfortable common spaces, a tranquil roof terrace with shady seating areas, and a fully-equipped kitchen for guest use.
Flanked by the park stretching along the Mapocho River that bisects Santiago from east to west, CasAltura is located in Santiago Centro, the city's center. It's a three-block walk north from the Plaza de Armas, the city's shady main square. With attractions such as the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and the Presidential Palace of La Moneda just a short walk away, as well as numerous cafés and restaurants, it's a great base for sightseers too. The nearest metro stop is two blocks west of the hostel, making it easy to reach attractions farther out.