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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Hotel Del Patio, Santiago, Chile

Written by Eric Rosen
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Located in the heart of the bohemian paradise of Bellavista, Hotel Del Patio is a hip, ten-room boutique alternative to Santiago’s larger hotel chains.

Hotel Del Patio, Calle Bombonero Nunez, Pio Nono, 61 Pio Nono, Mercado Central, Plaza de Armas, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago, Chile, La Chascona, Eric RosenThough surrounded by the breathtaking Andes with their vertiginous snowy peaks and ambling along the trickle of water known as the Mapocho River, Santiago does not have the charms or character of other South American cities. It is not as messy or chaotic or friendly as
Buenos Aires or Cusco. At times, it even feels just like being in Denver. Most people simply use it as a quick jumping off point to Chile’s other points of interest. But Santiago has a lot to offer the patient traveler, and now there is a wonderful new hotel to stay in while exploring this most underrated of South American metropolises.

Hotel options in Santiago can seem dry and charmless, until one comes across the delightful Hotel Del Patio in the bustling, sociable Barrio Bellavista—onetime home to Pablo Neruda and much of Santiago’s artistic community. Think of it as the Montmartre of Santiago—nestled into the wooded slopes of Cerro San Cristobal, its quaint streets lined with vendors and cafes where the young people of the city gather in the evenings to share drinks, cigarettes, and friendly discussion.

Hotel Del Patio, Calle Bombonero Nunez, Pio Nono, 61 Pio Nono, Mercado Central, Plaza de Armas, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago, Chile, La Chascona, Eric RosenThe Hotel Del Patio is located right on the main thoroughfare of Bellavista, Calle Pio Nono, and is part of a new urban development called the Patio de Bellavista (hence the hotel’s name). Located on the second floor of a former mansion, the hotel’s dark-stained wooden floors and huge windows that overlook the Patio tell the story of the building’s past. But the décor is all about the present, with sleek lines, modernist fixtures and brightly decorated rooms. In addition, each of the ten guest rooms come with a flat-screen television and satellite channels, so you can catch up on your BBC and CNN International.

Like the hotel itself, the guest rooms are cozy, though judicious furniture arrangements and high ceilings keep them from feeling cramped. Hotel Del Patio, Calle Bombonero Nunez, Pio Nono, 61 Pio Nono, Mercado Central, Plaza de Armas, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago, Chile, La Chascona, Eric RosenThe bathrooms, though also small, are fitted with big showers, new toilets, and beautiful designer sinks. The rates run from $90-$150 a night depending on whether you opt for a snug single or a spacious triple, but since foreigners are not subject to the 19% Value Added Tax (IVA), you can try to negotiate your rate (within reason) when you contact the hotel. An impressive, detailed new web site also makes it very easy not only to take a peek at the hotel’s facilities, but also to make a secure reservation online.

One of the best amenities of the Hotel Del Patio is its generous breakfast spread—included in your nightly rate and available from 8-10am daily. Not only is there coffee, juice, cereal, yogurt and fruit, but you can also pile up on cold cuts, and the friendly staff will make you eggs to order. This hearty breakfast is just the right start for a busy day in Santiago, where lunch can come as late as 4pm. You can even take your food outside to the terrace that has a view all the way to the Andes. This also makes a great spot for a drink in the evening before heading out to dinner. Other perks of staying at the Hotel Del Patio include free wi-fi internet access throughout the hotel, laundry service, and arrangements for winery tours and outdoor activities.

The hotel could use a few more modern conveniences like air conditioning, but the rooms are equipped with powerful fans that stave off the midday heat. Because it is in such a vibrant neighborhood, this means that the Hotel can seem a little noisy at times. But by dinnertime, Bellavista’s frenzied activity has calmed down, and there is nothing to stop you from getting a good night’s sleep.

The Bellavista neighborhood is a lively, accessible place to call your home base, and feels like the social center of the city. Its narrow streets are filled with bars and cafes that are packed late into the night. Bellavista is also home to some of the most innovative and delicious restaurants that Santiago has to offer, including the slick new Amorio on Constitucion, with a wide array of Chilean seafood specialties spiced up with a nouvelle twist accompanied by an extensive wine list. Right across the street is Etniko, always filled with a well-heeled crowd enjoying the Chilean-skewed sushi menu to the beat of great house music. On Calle Bombonero Nunez, located on the other side of Pio Nono, you can find some of the best bars to while away the evening with new Chilean acquaintances, as well as the mainstays of Santiago’s gay bar scene, like Bunker and G Bar. Though some of the streets are not recommended for nighttime walking, most are quite safe, and there are always people around so security should not be an issue.

For daytime activities, the Hotel Del Patio is just a short walk to the sprawling Parque Metropolitano and the Cerro San Cristobal Funicular. For less than $2, you can make the steep climb up to the city’s highest point, where you will find a huge statue of Jesus reminiscent of Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain. Don’t forget to stop by the little Jardin Zoologico on the way up, though.

Hotel Del Patio, Calle Bombonero Nunez, Pio Nono, 61 Pio Nono, Mercado Central, Plaza de Armas, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago, Chile, La Chascona, Eric RosenJust around the corner from the park entrance, you will find La Chascona, the house that Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda built for his third and final wife, Matilda Urratia. Their courtship is chronicled in the 1995 Italian film, “Il Postino.” Meaning “curly-haired woman,” La Chascona derives its name from Neruda’s nickname for Matilda. Once you see the portrait of her painted by Diego Rivera that hangs amidst the house’s impressive collection of bric-a-brac, you will understand its provenance.

Bellavista is also quite close to Santiago’s main attractions, like the Mercado Central and the Plaza de Armas. If you just can’t stay away from the more mundane areas of Providencia and Las Condes, you can take a leisurely stroll along the Mapocho River westwards, or just hop on the Metro at the Baquedano stop, conveniently located three blocks away from the Hotel Del Patio. With mass transit this close and cheap, you won’t even have to take taxis if you choose not to.

With its bright rooms, friendly staff and modern amenities, the Hotel Del Patio offers a welcoming oasis to cool your heels in smoggy, hectic Santiago. This cross between a boutique hotel and a B&B is a great option for backpackers and sophisticates alike, and makes the prospect of a stay in Chile that much more hospitable.

Details: Hotel Del Patio, 61 Pio Nono, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago

Phone: +56(2) 732 7571 Web:

© Eric Rosen

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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