While we were planning our trip to Santiago, we knew we wanted to stay in a hip neighborhood full of trendy restaurants and bars, with an easy walk to all the sites we wanted to see. We quickly settled on the very hip, very nice Bellavista neighborhood.
As we searched for our hotel, we kept on coming back to a single, striking red building. We ended up staying at this great hotel: Boutique Hotel Castillo Rojo. A gorgeous, bright red mansion built in 1923 and the home to artists and bohemians for decades, it’s now a chic boutique hotel filled with charm. We ended up booking two separate stays there–once at the beginning of our vacation, and once at the end (with our Easter Island trip in the middle). Each time, we were greeted like old friends and given a beautiful, cozy room. We were actually eyeing the bathrooms for ideas for our house back in the States.
They had a cute breakfast area that served a nice breakfast of eggs, toast, fruit, and coffee each morning. The staff spoke perfect English, and had excellent recommendations for everything to do, see, and eat in the area. We can’t recommend them enough–and have decided that if we make it back to Santiago, this hotel definitely deserves a repeat stay.
We were located right at the foot of the Cerro San Cristobal (one of the two major hills in the city), and only a short walk from the main parks and some of the museums. We were about a block and a half away from La Chascona, one of Pablo Neruda’s homes.
We had a great time exploring the neighborhood’s charming bars and restaurants. Patio Bellavista had a great variety, and we spent some time eating there and enjoying the many open patios. However, we were glad we ate early, since it fills up considerably later at night. If that’s your goal, then it’s an excellent choice–but crowds packed that tightly make me feel nervous and trapped in.
We particularly enjoyed the drinks we had at Sangucheria Cuidad Vieja, with its impressive bar storage that reminded me of the library ladders in Beauty and the Beast (or, for those of you with a Lafayette College connection, like the library in Kirby Law Library).
We also had a great dinner at La Boheme, where our server spoke perfect English and had (in a typically bohemian fashion) moved to Santiago on a lark for a boy and stayed after that had fizzled. We loved the pierna de cordero magallanico–a beautifully barbecued leg of lamb. So beautiful, in fact, that the couple in the table across from us stopped their conversation when it came out and had to ask what it was. I kind of wish we had brought our cameras so T and I would have had a picture of that delicious meat.
Overall, we can’t recommend Bellavista and Castillo Rojo enough. w
We’d be remiss, however, if we didn’t note one thing: Don’t use the ATMs in Patio Bellavista. We ended up getting both of our cards stolen, and we’re fairly certain it was from those public ATMs. As always when you travel, don’t try to outsmart yourself, and just use the ATMs inside banks. (Or, if you really can’t, be sure to get a receipt for every transaction–otherwise, you’ll have a really fun time trying to retrace your steps over your entire vacation, like we did in the airport on the way home.)