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Where to Stay in Colonia del Sacramento

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  Site Where: Ituzaningó 232, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
January 27, 2009 at 12:11 PM | by | Comments (0)

All this week, Eric Rosen will be bringing us his hotel recommendations for an interesting trip down in South America. He explains it all in our latest hotel guide--Budget Boutique Hotels of the 33rd Parallel South.

I’m going to be honest. There is not a huge amount to see in Colonia Del Sacramento. Most people just zip in and out in a day. The main draw is the fact that the ferry from Buenos Aires takes barely an hour to get there, and you get a cool stamp and some more fun, colorful money to play around with for the day.

The flip side is that if you do decide to spend the night here, either as a getaway from hectic B.A. or as a stopover on your way to Montevideo or Punta del Este, Colonia does provide a charming, quirky setting in which to unwind after the rigors of South American travel, and once the droves of day-trippers go home, you practically have the place to yourself.

The town was founded by the Portuguese in 1680, and if you spend any time in Uruguay, you will definitely be able to hear the Portuguese influence in the language. I’m sorry, but your Spanish 101 conversational skills just will not cut it here, what with odd slang, interesting (to say the least) grammar, and an accent so strong, the Uruguayans might as well be speaking Dutch. Most people in Uruguay don’t seem to have very strong English skills, so try to brush up on your español.

Colonia is situated on a tiny spit of land that juts out into the Mar de Plata, which really should be named the Muddy Sea since I didn’t see anything silvery about it. Since the MDP is really just a big estuary, it is dotted with wooded islands (and the occasional mosquito colony), and the views can be downright breathtaking and contemplative, especially as you listen to the miniature waves lap up against the cobblestones of the old port.

When you get into the crazy ferry terminal, rush through Customs, get your Republica Uruguayana passport stamp, and grab a taxi or rent a scooter if you’re feeling adventurous. Head right down General Flores Street going west and you’ll pass by the entire new town, with its little restaurants, cafes and shops on your way to the Old Town and the ancient fortifications.

Right in the heart of the town’s “historical virtuosism,” as one information packet describes it, you will find the little Posada Don Antonio on the corner of Rivadavia and Ituzaingó, right on the border of the Barrio Historico which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The rooms come in the usual categories--standard (double), deluxe and superior (queen), and even some junior suites. They all have air conditioning, cable TV, telephone, and free WiFi. Two of the suites also have jacuzzi tubs, though most of the rooms just have showers. Rates range from about $60-155...pretty much because the only currencies doing worse than the U.S. dollar are those of South America. That’s why you also get a buffet breakfast included in your rate.

The beds don’t seem to be all that new or comfortable, but the rooms themselves are simply and tastefully furnished with country-chic linens and a few scattered paintings placed on the exposed brick walls that have been whitewashed for a fresh, clean look. As an added bonus, most of the rooms overlook the little garden and pool area for an aura of calm that belies the busy scene outside the hotel.

The common areas have more of that gorgeous tiling with which you will become familiarized at the Tile Museum (Museo Azulejo), as well as some beautiful antique wooden furniture and white-washed walls. Don’t you dare tell me you don’t care about the Tile Museum, because it’s tiny and engrossing and you shouldn’t miss it!

The Posada also arranges guided walking tours for guests on Saturday (though if you’re smart, you’ll head back to B.A. or Punta for the club scene that night). They also have taken an active interest in the community by hosting a modest gallery of local Uruguayan artists whose works they display.

There are some flashier hotel options nearby like the Sheraton Colonia Golf and Spa Resort, the Radisson, and the chic, pueblo-like Hotel Kempinsi Colony Park, as well as the uber-colonial Posada Plaza Mayor where it practically feels like you’re staying in the old fort. But for colonial charm, provincial décor, bottom-line prices, and proximity to the sights of Old Colonia, the Posada Don Antonio is the best choice.

[Photo of hotel: wbBracknell; All other photos by Eric Rosen]

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