Santiago

Santiago has cast off its neighbours' shadows – an expert guide to Chile's leafy capital

Why go?

After decades of playing catch-up with its neighbours, Santiago has undergone a renaissance in the past few years and is brimming with new bars, hotels, museums and cultural centres and hotels that are worth your time and your money. What’s more, Chile’s capital is safer than Rio and more welcoming than Buenos Aires, making it a gentle introduction to South America

Read the guide here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/port-guides/santiago-cruise-port-guide/

Santiago: a South American surprise

The Chilean city has undergone a renaissance in the past few years -  something the myriad of new museums, cultural centres and hotels bear testimony to. What’s more, thanks to the recent launch of the first ever direct flights from the UK with British Airways, Chile’s cool capital is even closer. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Santiago

Chile is poised to take centre stage in South America after decades of playing catch up with its neighbours and for good reason: while the often- overlooked South America country can’t match the raw energy of Brazil or the elegance of Argentina, it’s safer and more welcoming than many of its South American siblings.  Chances are your first introduction to spindly Chile, will be the country’s capital: step forward Santiago. Check out TNT’s guide to the top things to see and do…

 

 

Eat empanadas
Empanadas - super South American pies - are everywhere in Chile but the best ones are sold in Empanadas Zunino (www.empanadaszunino.com). Situated on Puente Street, this old school bakery is famous for its empanadas – long considered to be Chile’s national dish. (Case in point? Salvador Allende chose to celebrate his election as Chilean president in 1970 “with red wine and empanadas.”) The classic versions are filled with pino (meat) but other fillings on offer include queso (cheese), chicken, seafood and vegetable mixtures. 

Say hello to Santiago’s symbolic heart
The bustling Plaza de Armas has been the symbolic heart of Santiago since the city's founding in 1541. This gorgeous square, whose beautiful fountain pays homage to the famous liberator Simon Bolivar, is flanked by blockbusters sights such as Catedral Metroplitana;  a neoclassical cathedral that was built between 1748 and 1800.  Expect to see scores of Santiaguinos strolling around the square on sunny evenings and weekends

Potter to Patronati
Not too many visitors – or locals for that matter – make it over the Rio Mapocho river to Patronato but those that do quickly discover its delights: the barrio (neighbourhood) is thronged with Santiago’s Arab and Chinese immigrants peddling everything from Chinese slippers to sweets, for peanut prices. Patronato is also home to Cementerio General (where Chilean heavyweights such as Salvador Allende, have been laid to rest) plus the memorial to all those who disappeared during Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship.

 

Must see museum
If you only see one museum while in Santiago, make it the Musueo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos which translates as the Museum of Memory & Human Rights (http://ww3.museodelamemoria.cl/). Located over in barrio Yungay, the museum – which exposes the terrifying human rights violations that occurred under Chile’s military government between the years of 1973 and1990 – makes for sobering but essential viewing. 

Make for Mercado Central
Looking to enjoy a sensational seafood lunch for a snip? Make for Mercado Central (www.mercadocentral.cl/) and grab a table at one of the stalls around the edge (the ones in the middle are aimed at tourists and subsequently boast tourist inflated prices). Even if you aren’t fanatical about seafood, the always lively market is worth visiting for the atmosphere and phenomenal people watching and photo opportunities alone.

Culture vulture
Spend even the smallest amount of time in South America and chances are you’ll find yourself suffering from cathedral fatigue - in which case check out Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda (www.ccplm.cl/sitio). This worthy addition to Santiago’s cultural scene consists of two exhibition spaces, a gallery, movie theatre and a fabulous fair trade crafts shop – the perfect spot to snap up a few Santiago souvenirs. Another striking cultural centre worth seeing is Centro Gabriela Mistral (www.gam.cl), named after the first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
 


Visit Valparaíso
No matter how short your stay in Santiago, make time to travel one hour north of the capital to the port city of Valparaiso - or Valpo as the Unesco world heritage listed town is affectionately known. Spend even the smallest amount of time here and you’ll quickly discover the delights of the town’s 45 cerros (hills), overlooking the Pacific, that are dotted by sugar almond hued houses whose exteriors are made of corrugated metal peeled from decades old shipping containers. It’s a sleepy sort of place in which to rest, reflect and recuperate. Or as Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize–winning Chilean poet, put it in a letter to his poet friend, Sara Vial, in 1959: “I feel the tiredness of Santiago, I want to find a house to live and write in peace at Valparaíso.”

 

Follow in the footsteps of Pablo Neruda
Speaking of which, fans of the beloved Nobel Prize-winning poet (who was also the most famous communist in post-WWII Chile) will want to tour La Chascona (www.fundacionneruda.org/es), the house where Pablo Neruda once resided with his mistress, Matilde Urrutia. Then take the funicular up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for breathtaking views of the Chilean capital.

Cocktail hour
In the mood for an expertly made Pisco Sour (Chile claims to have invented this divine cocktail which sees Pisco mixed with sugar and fresh lemon juice)? Make a beeline for a bar in Bellas Artes or Bellavista - two postcard perfect barrios, packed with buzzy bars serving potent Pisco Sours.

Check into CasAltura
Naysayers will no doubt tell you that hostels are synonymous with uncomfortable, germ-ridden bunk beds, shared bathrooms and sleepless nights (caused by the fear that someone might steal your suitcase). The naysayers haven’t stayed at CasAltura (www.casaltura.com) - a gorgeous 100 year-old building that's more flashpacker than backpacker thanks, in no small part, to its stunning rooftop terrace. CasAltura’s location can’t be bettered either: the ‘boutique’ hostel is within easy walking distance of most of Santiago’s main sights.

BA launched flights to Santiago from London Heathrow on 3 January 2017
Words and pictures: Kaye Holland

The new breed of hostels

The much maligned hostel has - huzzah! - upped its game. The Sybarite reports on the rise of the designer hostel

Naysayers will no doubt tell you that hostels are synonymous with uncomfortable, germ-ridden bunk beds, shared bathrooms and sleepless nights (caused by the fear that someone might steal your suitcase).

They may have been right circa 2000 but they’re wrong in December 2016. Make no mistake: fast forward to today and hostels - once the preserve of dread-locked teenagers and twenty somethings - have gone decidedly upmarket, proving that it is possible to sleep in style on a budget.

These new breed of boutique hostels are a world away from their predecessors, focusing as they do on quality not quantity. Translation? Expect stylish extras - think fully equipped and, crucially, clean kitchens, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property, exhibition spaces, funky art work, rooftop terraces and reading rooms - all for an amazingly economic price.

What’s more owing to their communal spaces, these boutique hostels represent a great way to meet like minded travellers while simultaneously ensuring a guilt free trip: staying in a boutique hostel (most of which are family owned and run) as opposed to a big chain hotel, means that the money you’re spending will go back into the community.

The company that has arguably done more to dispel the image of hostels as dirty, shabby, crash pads for skint students, than anyone is Generator - aka the pioneer of the posh hostels.

Chic, full of character and invariably located in an enviable postcode, Generator (www.generatorhostels.com) is bridging the gap between backpacker basic and four/five star luxury chic. Case in point? Generator Paris - which opened to rave reviews in March 2015 - is situated in the French capital’s up-and-coming 10th arrondissement district and comes complete with a rooftop bar boasting breathtaking views of Montmartre and Sacré Coeur no less for under US$80 (US$36 if you don’t mind sharing with a stranger). In short, Generator mixes the comfort of a hotel with the sociable DIY aspects of a hostel, providing everything you need while doing away with all the things you don’t.

Freehand Hotels (www.freehandhotels.com) is another hot hostel group that’s changing the game by offering first class facilities (read cocktail bars and private pools) for affordable prices. Freehand made its debutin Miami back in 2012 and has since expanded to Chicago, with plans to open in both the Big Apple and New York imminently.

Out of the independent options, The Sybarite has soft spot for Santiago’s CasAltura (www.casaltura.com) which shows that style is possible on a shoestring. Situated in a beautiful 100 year old building, CasAltura is more flash-packer than backpacker thanks to its stunning rooftop terrace, well designed kitchen, comfortable lounge and dining room, satellite tv and friendly staff. The location can’t be bettered either: CasAltura is close to Mercado Central and Parque Forestal (two top Santiago sights) and within easy walking distance of most of the Chilean capital’s must sees and dos. Little wonder then, that this boutique hostel has fast become a hit with savvy Sybarites.

Bottom line? Leave your preconceptions at the door: hostel-hopping around the world no longer requires roughing it….

Hot travel destinations

Five up and coming places to visit

 

Lima, Peru
Hot on the heels of the new direct flight from Gatwick to Lima with British Airways, Lima is rapidly revealing itself as one of South America’s most cosmopolitan destinations for culturally savvy, foodie globetrotters. Lima’s vibrant Callao district – once known only for Peru’s chief seaport, has reinvented itself as an edgy hotbed of culture. The newly opened Callao Monumental project, located in the towering and historic Edificio Ronald building, consists of six floors of independent restaurants, artisanal fabric boutiques, galleries and studio space for resident artists.
Elsewhere art lovers will adore Peruvian-born artist Ishmael Randal Weeks’ large installations and contemporary sculptures that explore themes of urbanisation, transformation, and regeneration. Sybarites can visit Ishmael’s newly-opened studio space in the Barranco district and gain an insight into the artist’s work.
Meanwhile Casa Bolognesi – a grand and imposing republican house overlooking Plaza Bolognesi – has now reopened for private visits following extensive renovations, allowing guests to explore the impressive collection of contemporary Peruvian and Latin American art.
When it comes to accommodation, the hotel du jour is arguably Atemporal – translated as “timeless”- which opened in August 2016. Located in the lively Miraflores district, this exquisitely designed boutique property is housed in a grand building boasting nine beautifully appointed rooms showcasing eclectic modern cool married with an old school service ethic.

Santiago, Chile
Chile is poised to take centre stage in South America after decades of playing catch up with its neighbours and for good reason: while the long overlooked South America country can’t match the raw energy of Brazil or the elegance of Argentina, it’s safer and more welcoming than many of its South American siblings. Chances are your first introduction to spindly Chile, will be the country’s capital: step forward Santiago which has undergone something of a renaissance in recent times. Earlier this year one of Santiago’s favourite buildings rose from the ashes in Barrio Lastarria as the fully restored 38 room boutique Hotel Luciano K. Named after the cult Chilean architect Luciano Kulczewski who designed this architectural gem, this brand new hotel has more than a touch of Ghostbusters about it, originally constructed as an art deco style apartment block with a locally loved gargoyle leaning down from the roof.
Historically known as La Gargola, the building was once the tallest in Chile and the first to have central heating and an elevator. The hotel’s sympathetic restoration showcases the original elevator ‘capsule’,  original marble staircases, tiles, wooden doors and Luciano Kulczewski’s signature art deco features have also been brought back to their former glory.

Oman
Forget the UAE – it’s Oman that is stealing the show. Oman’s glitzy next door neighbour – the bling bedecked emirate of Dubai – may dominate the headlines, but if it’s an authentic taste of Arabia that you’re after few places can match Oman.
Blessed with beautiful beaches, rugged mountains, medieval fortresses, ancient ruins and one of the best souks in the Middle East, Oman offers much for the traveller willing to explore and experience more than crowded shopping malls.
Indeed unlike the other Gulf States, the country has managed to modernise itself without turning the Sultanate into a strip of gargantuan shopping centres. Buildings have been designed to reflect the cultural heritage of their surroundings – thus developments are all unmistakably Arabic (on the outside at least) owing to details like white washed walls.
One of the most recent projects is the development of the Mina Sultan Qaboos Waterfront, which aims to transform Port Sultan Qaboos – previously Muscat’s main commercial port – into a major tourist destination, chock full of hotels and resorts, retail and residential areas, as well as entertainment and cultural areas.
Oman’s popularity is also set to soar thanks to a super luxury yacht called Crystal Esprit that will be sailing into town on 4 December. Sybarites onboard the seven star, butler-serviced 31 suites, 62-passenger vessel, will be able to enjoy Michelin star-level cuisine, wakeboards, kayaks, jet skis, scuba diving and more.

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s host of new hotel openings – together with the tiny Island’s golden beaches, tea plantations, lush jungles, spectacular wildlife and ancient cities – as opposed to fracas and fighting that are dominating the headlines.
Haute hotel arrivals include Fort Bazaar in Galle Fort and Chena Huts in Yala National Park. The former in historic Galle Fort is a fabulous option for couples seeking a romantic break and families in need of R&R, with a spa, a 10-seater cinema and cushioned daybeds for poolside cocktails.
Inside, contemporary Scandi-style furnishings blend with Middle Eastern features to create a stylish, light-filled sanctuary. Meanwhile, Chena Huts is a luxurious lodge on the edge of Yala National Park, complete with lavish cabins, private plunge pools, and twice-daily safaris. While you will find freestanding tubs, all the mod cons, and a spa, Chena Huts is all about wildlife: the cabins are stilted so nature can move freely, the vast walls of glass allow for hide-style wildlife spotting and even the occasional elephant pops by.
Over in Weligama Bay, W15 Weligama is a small, sociable hotel with great surf on the doorstep, a buzzing bar-restaurant and enviable beachfront location. And last but by no means least, Tri Lanka is a luxe eco-retreat on the banks of Koggala Lake offering first-class yoga facilities, heavenly spa treatments, an infinity pool and 11 beautifully designed rooms. We’ll see you in Sri Lanka.

Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena – or Cartagena de Indias – as it was originally, and romantically, called will, without a doubt, be one of the most beautiful and seductive places that Sybarites will ever visit. Expect cobbled alleys, flower bedecked balconies (a prize is awarded every year for the most beautiful balcony), horse-drawn carriages, statues (saluting the heroes who helped defend Cartargena against British and French colonialists, pirates and ultimately from Spain) and elegant plazas, all of which combine to help the city maintain a unique unspoiled identity.
You could spend days wandering around the walled old town, putting your bargaining skills to the test by purchasing sweets from El Portal de los Dulces (featured in Gabriel Garcia Maquez’s Love in the time of Cholera), before losing yourself in a labyrinth of sights, sounds and smells.
Little wonder then that Morgans Hotel Group has chosen to make its entry into South America with the Delano Cartagena – due to open before the year is out. Located in Mar de Indias, a flourishing area in southern Cartagena, the 186 room hotel will feature luxurious beach bungalows, a full-service beach club, extensive fine dining and nightlife outlets.
Delano enthusiasts from around the globe can expect the same attention-to-detail, premier service and luxury experience at Delano Cartagena as first experienced at the original South Beach property.
Meanwhile Marriott International has announced plans to open two new hotels in Cartagena – say hello to the 210-room AC Hotel by Marriott Cartagena and the 201-room Cartagena Marriott – by 2018. All told, Cartagena is a city truly on the verge of great things – get it while it’s hot.

By: Kaye Holland

 

 

Santiago made simple

When it comes to South American cities, Santiago tends to be overshadowed by Rio (with its raw energy) and elegant, emotional Buenos Aires - much like a middle child sandwiched between an older and younger offspring.

Yet while the Chilean capital will never match up to the fabulousness of its South American siblings, Santiago has undergone a renaissance in the past few years -  something the myriad of new museums, cultural centres and parks bear testimony to. Many visitors also find Santiago to be safer than Rio and more welcoming that Baires.

Bottom line? Santiago has become a city worth stopping in rather than just using as a transit hub on the way to Torres del Paine and Patagonia in the south of Chile or San Pedro de Atacama - aka the driest desert in the world - in the north. Just About Travel shows you the way to go…

 

Must see and do
With a bit of judicious planning, you can see most of Santiago’s sights in a two days. Start in El Centro in the bustling Plaza de Armas - the symbolic heart of Santiago. This gorgeous square, whose beautiful fountain pays homage to the famous liberator Simon Bolivar, is flanked by blockbusters sights such as Catedral Metroplitana, a neoclassical cathedral that was built between 1748 and 1800. However if you’ve been in South America a while and are suffering from cathedral fatigue, check out Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda. This worthy new addition to Santiago’s cultural scene consists of two exhibition spaces, a gallery, movie theatre and a fabulous fair trade crafts shop - the perfect spot to snap up a few Santiago souvenirs. Another striking cultural centre worth seeing is Centro Gabriela Mistral, named after the first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. And don't miss the Musueo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory & Human Rights). Situated in barrio Yungay, the museum - which exposes the terrifying human rights violations that occurred under Chile’s military government between the years of 1973 and 1990 - makes for sobering but essential viewing. But you’re probably after a holiday not a history lesson in which case climb Cerro Santa Lucia, an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Santiago’s streets. Complete your Santiago sojourn by touring La Chascona - the house where Pablo Neruda (the Nobel Prize–winning Chilean poet who was once called “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language”) used to hole up in with his mistress, Matilde Urrutia, before taking the funicular up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for breathtaking views of the Chilean capital.

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

 

Best bites
Much of Santiago’s appeal lies in its food scene so arrive with an appetite. First up, make for Mercado Central where you can enjoy a sensational seafood lunch. (Tip: the restaurants in the middle of Mercado Central are aimed at tourists and thus have prices to match. For a more authentic Mercado experience, take a seat at one of the stalls around the edge). Even if you aren’t a fan of seafood, the colourful, photo friendly market is worth visiting for the atmosphere and phenomenal people watching alone.

Empanadas Zunino

Empanadas Zunino


For lunch on the run, look to Empanadas Zunino. Situated on Puente Street - a stone’s throw from Mercado Central - this old school bakery is famous for its empanadas, long considered to be Chile's national dish. (Case in point? Salvador Allende chose to celebrate his election as Chilean president in 1970 “with red wine and empanadas.” The classic versions are filled with pino (meat) but other fillings on offer include queso (cheese), chicken, seafood and vegetable mixtures. On the subject of vegetables, El Naturista is the name that all vegetarians need to know. There’s two branches downtown - one on Huerfanos and a smaller, more casual branch on Moneda - but both serve up generous portions of heathy salads and sandwiches, plus some more sinful desserts. For dinner, the barrios of Lastarria and Bellavista are a better bet. The latter is home to Galindo where you can try Santiago staples such as the heart attack  inducing Chorrillana (french fries washed topped with grilled onions and meat) washed down with copious amounts of Carmenere - Chile's signature grape.

Best kept secret
Not many visitors - or locals for that matter - make it over the Rio Mapocho river to Patronato but those that do quickly discover its delights: Patronato is thronged with Santiago’s Arab and Chinese immigrants peddling their wares (everything from Chinese slippers to sweets) for a pittance. Patronato is also the place to see Cementerio General where Chilean heavyweights tend to be laid to rest. Keep an eye out for Salvador Allende’s tomb, plus the the memorial to all those who disappeared during Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship.

Santiago street life

Santiago street life

Top shops
Shopping isn’t Santiago’s biggest draw, but shopaholics won’t leave town empty handed. Tasteful trinkets to remind you of your stay in Santiago include Lapis lazuli, leatherwork, silver jewellery,  copper goods and alpaca shawls. You'll find the aforementioned artisan made handicrafts in Artesanias de Chile inside the Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda. And the best bit? Most of the profits from the products you purchase, go directly to the artisans meaning you can shop guilt free. For hip threads created by a Chilean designer, make a beeline for Patio Bellavista - a charming courtyard centre in the buzzy Bellavista barrio.

After dark
Most of the action takes place in the picturesque neighbourhood of Bellas Artes or Bellavista. Top choices include Catedral - a classy bar serving killer cocktails plus more unusual options like Champagne with violet creme - in stylish (think two tone couches) surroundings. Rougher round the edges is Barrio Brasil whose ramshackle streets are chock full of crumbling old fashioned buildings that house bars like Eurohappy (which boasts over 400 types of beer) and Baires. About as far away as you can get from Barrio Brasil (both literally and figuratively) is the uber modern neighbourhood of El Golf. Here you’ll find glittering skyscrapers, shiny shopping centres, swanky apartment blocks and the sleek W Hotel - home to seriously sexy bar that’s become a destination of choice for locals and visitors alike. From the fabulous fashion forward folk who frequent the watering hole to the unrivalled views of the majestic Andes, you’re guaranteed something to gawp at while you sip your expertly made Pisco Sours (Chile and Peru both claim to have invented this heavenly cocktail in which Pisco, a popular grape brandy, is mixed with sugar and fresh lemon juice).

Chef Boris in action

Chef Boris Basso Benelli in action

Best excursion
An hour away from Santiago, the port city of Valparaiso is worth the trip. The Unesco world heritage listed town is known for its 45 cerros (hills), overlooking the Pacific that are dotted by sugar almond hued houses, whose exteriors are made of corrugated metal peeled from decades old shipping containers. The cerros are crammed with cafes that are perfect for sampling tasty local dishes but if you want to learn how to recreate what you’re eating at home, sign up for a cooking class with Chilean Cuisine. Chef Boris Basso Benelli - a name and a personality you won’t forget - will escort you to Mercado Cardonal to shop for ingredients, before returning to the school where you’ll learn how to make Chilean classics including Pisco sour, empanadas, pebre and ensalada chilena plus an entreé, main course and dessert all washed down with some fantastic local wines. It’s not only a night of food, it’s also a night of fabulous fun - our group have stayed in touch and all invested in a copy of Chilean Cuisinean internationally published cookbook by Boris (who, incidentally. is a potential future contestant on Masterchef Chile.)

Where to sleep
For style on a shoestring, check into CasAltura - a beautiful 100 year old building that's more flashpacker than backpacker owing to its stunning rooftop terrace, well designed kitchen, comfortable lounge and dining room, satellite tv and friendly staff. The location can’t be bettered either: CasAltura is close to Mercado Central and Parque Forestal and within easy walking distance of most of Santiago’s main sights. Little wonder then, that the self declared ‘boutique’ hostel is a hit with travellers.

The rooftop terrace at CasAltura

The rooftop terrace at CasAltura