With the 2016 Pritzker Prize awarded to Chilean Alejandro Aravena some eyes have recently shifted to Chilean architecture, its historical influences and modern day revival. From the regeneration of buildings across Santiago’s barrios to the modern construction along the coast, Chilean architecture is indeed having a moment. When traveling, experiencing the architecture and design of a place is a great way to connect to local culture. Here are just a few of our top picks of hotels that speak to those with an eye for design.
This hotel, which is built seamlessly into the Bellas Arts neighborhood, is handsome and stately, and was inspired in part by a now defunct Santiago hotel called the Carrillion, which has been converted into a department store. At The Singular a marble sculpture from the original sits opposite the reception desk, which is accessed through an elegant but inviting lounge/bar that is open to the public. Inside, the rooms feel spaciously European and are smart, tidy and geometric. There are copious prints of gardens, design features, and wildlife. Every evening, house keeping leaves a card behind with details about the buildings in the neighborhood as part of turndown service.
In the historic area of Parque Forestal, on the north side of the Bellas Artes neighborhood is a hotel designed by and named for one of Chile’s most famous Architects, Luciano Kulcweski. The hotel is Luciano K and from Art Deco façade to the milk paint colored tiles on the floors, to the first elevator built in all of Chile (refurbished, but the original capsule is still in place), the hotel never disappoints. It was constructed in 1928 as an apartment building, and a very conservative architecturally correct remodel was done in 2015 to turn it into a hotel. Luciano K is airy and bright, and has unique elements such as a skylight from the colorful terrace all the way down to the first level, and elongated hexagonal doorways Triple paned windows keep the city’s hum at bay for even the lightest sleepers.
Magnolia the newest addition of architecturally interesting hotels in Santiago, opened to the public in September, 2016. It was originally built in 1929, as an apartment building, and was later used as office, until it was transformed into a hotel. It will strike a chord with visitors who like the combination of neogothic and modern touches. In one area of the hotel, a broad solid staircase is set off from original exposed brick by a wire frame, and in another, the original marble staircase is flanked by original leaded windows, bearing a coat of arms, similar to those in the nearby “Colegio de Arquitectos” building on the Alameda. The rooftop deck at the hotel is modern, and showcases one of Santiago’s favorite spots, as on the 7th floor, guests are level with parts of nearby Cerro Santa Lucía.
For lovers of time capsules, solid construction and just a touch of kitsch, the regal Bellavista’s Castillo Rojo is a great choice. This hotel is mainly decorated with antiques from the collection of the original owners who once used it as a private home. It sits just off the Plaza Mori, a quiet plaza in Bellavista’s otherwise populated streets. The bright red and stone façade call to mind a Swiss chalet, and the building dates from 1923. Each of the rooms has its own design elements, including antique typewriters, prints, blown glass, and heavy curtains to keep out the early morning sun if you sleep in for inspiration. A glass of wine on the private terrace overlooking the plaza might not hurt, either.
Valparaíso, Santiago’s favorite weekend getaway is a great place to get lost in the hills and winding walkways that comprise this city. Relaxation is never far away in the bright red, seaport style colonial hotel, Palacio Astoreca located on Cerro Alegre. It’s a stucco-and-brick built house built in the 1920s, a gift from a Croatian immigrant to Chile to his English wife, in an attempt to assuage her homesickness. The Swiss-Chilean couple that refurbished spared no expense, spending some 5 million dollars to outfit this five-star hotel, including hand-painted tiles and loving restoration of every detail of this 23-room boutique hotel. Seventeen of the rooms are suites, and all have views over this colorfully painted city, receiving visitors to Valparaíso in style since 2012.
Hotel Awa located on the shores of Lago Llanquihue, outside of Puerto Varas, in Chile’s Lakes Region, is a remarkable concrete, steel and glass construction that is surprisingly luminous and warm. The family-owned hotel seeks to define its own style, and it is evident by the stark construction. Flat-water features flank the hotel’s entry, reflecting the ways in which water has been such an essential part of this part of Chile. Rooms are set up with reading (or relaxing) nooks and seating areas and are paneled in local wood. Large, plate glass windows overlook the lake below, and the snow-capped Osorno volcano beyond.
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