Santiago Travel Guide
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Now that we've already shown you inside one of the Loft Rooms at The Aubrey, it's time to venture back downstairs to the guest lounges and out onto the patio for the restaurant, bar and pool. For having only 15 guest rooms, the amount of amenities may be surprising, but then the English-Australian owner has managed to make The Aubrey feel more like an expansive private home than a hotel with requisite extras.
For example, the complimentary afternoon tea time is not formal; table service is eliminated in favor of imparting the feeling that you're just grabbing a cup and some sweets from your own pantry and heading out to sun on the pool terrace. It's a quiet place, almost like a retreat, save for the fact that stepping outside and into the Barrio Bellavista ratchets your pulse back up to party level (in a good way).
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Santiago, Chile is just awesome. We would like to say it's the "up and coming" South American capital to hit, though to say that would be to have Santiaguinos argue that they've up and been there; it's just the US is late to figuring this out. And they'd be right, with one exception: the hotel scene. The vast majority of hotels in Santiago are bland 2-star tourist class or large-and-in-charge chain hotels in the least zesty neighborhoods. There's one major exception: The Aubrey.
Claiming the title of "Santiago's first boutique hotel," The Aubrey sits pretty with the double appeal of having an excellent location in the lively quarter of Barrio Bellavista and occupying a stunning piece of the city's architectural history. Even better: there's only 15 rooms, they begin at $240 per night, WiFi is fast and free, the breakfast spread is included as is afternoon tea, and the hotel boasts a pool, alfresco terrace, restaurant and evening bar/lounge.
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Confession time. Yes, we stayed at a Marriott in a city with many nice, independent hotels and historical B&Bs, but, as always when a major chain hotel is involved, there are extenuating circumstances. In our case in Santiago, Chile, we were down to the end of our trip budget, exhausted from an ordeal in Argentina and in need of a single night somewhere to crash before our long-haul flight straight back up to NYC.
Thus, we hit Priceline. Putting in a bid for $100, nothing hit. Priceline asked us to raise our limit to $120 and there'd definitely be a result, so we did. That result was the Marriott Santiago.
We like to keep it fun but informative here at HotelChatter so our newest series, What is This? is devoted to odd-looking items in hotel rooms that upon first glance look as if they serve only a decorative purpose. But everything happens for a reason, right? And we're here to tell you what these things really do.
The lobby of The Ritz-Carlton Santiago smells so good. So so good. It smells lovely enough that we had to ask the hotel staff what exactly was this spicy, musky scent that we would have rubbed all over ourselves, were it a lotion or perfume. Though they didn't quite know, they did show us where exactly it was coming from.
A bulge in the lobby curtain hid a small black box machine, subtly pumping out the scent into the space. It's a diffuser, and easily overlooked unless, like us, you're super nerdy about hotels and design details.
So now you know.
It had been a long two weeks of travel in Chile and Argentina when we finally hauled our luggage into a room at the Marriott Santiago. That was two weeks of worrying about WiFi, worrying about losing our plug adapters, and worrying that hotel rooms wouldn't have enough convenient outlets for charging all our gadgets. And then we saw this plug strip built into the side of the desk at the Marriott, and there was a big sigh of relief.
Most of the time, for us, Marriotts are too cookie-cutter, too conservative and, well, too American. Finding a small touch like this, however, helps us forgive Priceline for returning with a Marriott as the result of our "Name Your Own Price" search. This may sound super weird, but like how it's nice to slip back into your bed at home, sometimes it's also just really cozy to plug your gadgets into they outlet for which they were made, sans fear of sparks (and yes, we got a small electrical shock from a hotel outlet earlier in our trip, so we're now extra vigilant).
Bonus: the in-room coffee maker at the Marriott is also a US, 110-volt plug. Still, if you want to charge multiple devices at once, be sure to have those round, 2-prong Euro adapters on hand for Chilean outlets.
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We're going to be totally straight with you regarding our peek at the Hotel NOI Vitacura in Santiago, Chile. We were just spending a super sunny, hot day walking around the tony neighborhood of Vitacura and, suddenly, a modern building caused us to do a doubletake.
"I wonder if that's the new NOI hotel?"
Turns out it was, and we ventured inside to do some snooping. A quick turn in the Portofino Book Lounge (very nice) and we had to see more. Up in Room 310, a standard with flatscreen TV, freestanding soaking tub and free WiFI, we found a spacious layout thatthank godonly adhered to the hotel's Italian theme with the most subtle details. Hence the striped bedspread, leather-covered desk drawers and old school valet stand.
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We'll take you inside a standard room (which starts from $300 per night) and all around the deck and other spaces tomorrow bright and early, but to refresh, here's the clues to clue you in on this property:
· It's got the best hotel roof deck in the city, though some would beg to differ. [Answer: The W Santiago would beg to differ]
· A newcomer to the metropolis, the hotel is still quiet and relatively only for those "in the know."
· The design of the hotel is energy-efficient, andyay#151;the WiFi is complimentary.
· The neighborhood is known as one of the top 15 residential areas in the world, and while it lacks high-rises, there's no lack of luxury boutiques. [Answer: Vitacura neighborhood]
· The roof deck's tables slide open to become mini firepits on cooler evenings.
Let's face it; Marriott Hotels aren't exactly known for being unique, local-focused places to stay. Instead, guests take comfort in their uniformity, which can often make the large chain seem quite...bland.
But when you're not a business traveler rushing from meeting to meeting, then you've got a few moments to spare to observe the details that help give hotels like Marriott a sense of place without being too intrusive.
We found one such example of this at the Marriott Hotel in Santiago, Chile today. While checking in and waiting as our room key was coded, we turned around and noticed a stunning design in the floor at reception. A sort of compass rose, the inlaid wood points out the directions, noted by the famous geographical attributes of Chile. There is Pacifico (The Pacific Ocean) to the west, Patagonia to the south, Andes on the east and Atacama (the desert) to the north.
It's 7pm, do you know where you're heading for a pre-dinner cocktail in Santiago, Chile? For those who know, 7pm is the hour at which the roof deck and bar area of the W Hotel Santiago opens to the public. The pool closes, the sunbathing guests go put on more than just their swimming trunks and bikinis, and the golden dusk light pours over the Andes.
We stopped by to drink a Pisco W (and drink in the views) only a few days ago, and can totally recommend it. Heading up above several stories for an alfresco cocktail is relatively uncommon in Santiago, so we take roofdeck views where we can. The drink was waterya $10 (5,000 Chilean pesos) mix of Pisco Control C, fresh basil and cucumberbut with no cover charge or drink minimum up top, we're more than cool with it.
And the view? Get ready...
Let's face the facts. Many travelers to Santiago,Chile are interested in tasting some of the world famous wines produced in the area. Sure, there's business to get done and touristing about to do, but coming back to a hotel, it's nice to have a place to sip vintages in peace.
We dropped into the Ritz-Carlton Santiago just yesterday for a cocktail and to snoop around, and sauntered by their wine tasting room open on one side to one of the hotel restaurants, Estro. Then we checked their website and ran into one of our greatest annoyances about hotel websites: just lots of close-up photos of the food, none of this nice dining area.
If we have to be straight up, it's not a 5-star Santiago hotel without a semi-private tasting room and without having visited, how would we have known about this one? Just add it to our list of issues with hotel websites.
We know, we know, you want photos of the inside of the W Santiago (and we might or might not have some of those, too, so you better be nice to us!), but for now, we wanted to let you in on a secret little boutique hotel we found in the city during our recent stay there: The Aubrey. Here are the vital stats.
For the opening of the W Santiago Chile we were fortunate to have Jonathan Franklin and photographer Morten Andersen, the guys behind Addict Village attend the party and report back to us on what they saw. We know, we know, what a tough assignment. Enjoy.
W chose Santiago as its first ever South American location roughly five years ago. Finally on Tuesday, The W Hotel Santiago held its official opening party, a trademark WOW experience that included a rooftop pool adorned with three female synchronized swimmers in body gripping silver suits, live bands on various stages and the constant buzz from the estimated 1,200 guests.
Beginning at 8pm, paparazzi stalked the entrance as a virtual "Who’s Who" of Southern Cone businessmen, artists, models (lots), and a few Trustafarians gathered for a summit of a globalized tribe, a roving band of creatives. It felt like an art festival as painters, jewelry designers and Google nerds mixed with surfers and journalists.
W Hotels often brag about their "cool" but we have to admit, even the public spaces off the parking garage where the hotel's opening party was held, are cool. Three floors underground in "Great Room 2", hundreds of hotel guests listened to a rocking Argentine band. As the guests wandered amidst candlelit tables, they were tempted by Roman Empire-sized offering of cheese and wine. The wheels of cheese were the size of basketballs.
Fountains of chocolates and trays of oysters competed for attention. A migrating flock of waiters and hostesses swooped in to remove empty glasses, fill empty plates as they deliver a W trademark: friendly, worldy staff.
Where else does the elevator guy answer the question ‘where you from?’ with, “Born in Chile, raised in Belgium but lived in Singapore for a long time.”