“Posh 1930s mansion turned boutique hotel, overlooking the sea in the culturally captivating, quixotic city of Valparaíso”
There are 20 guest rooms which fit neatly into the rich interior spaces of the original mansion. Despite an abundance of dark wood wainscoting, beamed ceilings and built-in cabinets, rooms feel light and expansive thanks to vaulted ceilings and plenty of windows. The simple sophistication of the furnishings is completely in tune with old-world elegance.
The kingsize bed in our Premium Room (number 18) was super-comfy and the use of raffia and natural linens reflects Valparaíso's marine history. Double-paned, thermal windows blocked street noise. We could connect to the world via cable TV, a telephone with voicemail or WiFi (a laptop-sized digital safe box was tucked into the closet). Or just enjoy the pampering pleasures: a nightly turn down service, a bag of chocolates, double-sheeted linens (a blanket sandwiched between 2 sheets) and terry robes.
Suites have spacious private terraces furnished with sun loungers and dining tables facing the pool, port and surrounding hills. "Everyone who has a terrace asks for room service," the manager told us (the tree-shaded terrace of number 3 is most private.) One suite, already a favourite with government ministers, has a small living room alcove with a (non-working) Victorian fireplace insert.
Traditional Rooms are the smallest and lack a sitting area and separate tub. Some adjoining rooms in different categories can interconnect; Premium Room 5 (romantic four-poster bed and a sunken tub) and Traditional Room 4 (twin beds) share an interior patio with a waterfall wall.
Bathrooms are grey-and-white-tiled sybaritic sanctuaries, outfitted with sleek Italian fixtures including an adjustable-arm makeup mirror. Many have both an oversized height-adjustable shower and a freestanding or sunken tub, plus everything from separate his-and-hers amenity kits, a hairdryer and toiletries (natural herbal shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and bath salts) to a telephone in the toilet.
The bistro-style Montealegre Restaurant is cosy (it seats up to 16); hotel guests have a private entrance from the elegant lounge. The windowed is done in polished oak and black-on-black, including historic black-and-white photos of Valparaíso. An adjoining salon - with cushioned banquettes and an antique crystal chandelier - can be closed off for private celebrations of up to 8.
Guests are treated to a traditional Chilean breakfast: a choice of juices, dry cereals, breads and pastries, fresh fruits (kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, red grapes and oranges), yoghurts, scrambled eggs, bacon, sliced meat and cheese. Linger over coffee or tea at a white linen-topped table inside or - if the fog has lifted - enjoy a view of the sparkling bay at umbrella-shaded tables on the spacious open-air terrace.
The à la carte lunch and dinner menu highlights seafood along with contemporary international cuisine. An 'evolving' wine list includes a wide range of fine, mostly Chilean, wines at varying prices. Enjoy a glass in the elegant guests-only living room with its picture-window panorama of the city. Beers, cocktails and aperatifs are also available.
Throughout the day, light dishes, snacks and beverages are served on the terrace or poolside. Room service is available until 1am; in-room minibars offer a selection of fine liquors, beer and soft drinks along with bottled water and snacks.
There are plenty of options for eating out. The most traditional food in Valparaíso is the Chorrillana, a heaping mound of french fries topped with steak, onion, and eggs. Stop into a local bakery for oven-fresh bread smothered with palta (avocado) and homemade empanadas (meat or cheese filled pastry). Neighbouring Viña del Mar features a much larger (and more expensive) variety of international cuisines, including Thai, Mexican, and Argentine.