“Historic hotel with an Andalucian courtyard in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site, an hour by ferry from Buenos Aires”
Built on the foundations of a 1700 Portuguese home that was part of Colonia del Sacramento’s original settlement, Posada Plaza Mayor is an interesting historic amalgam of Portuguese and Spanish colonial architecture, look out for the original Portuguese stone walls and tiles. The 17 rooms - ranging from small standard rooms with twin beds to a suite with a sitting room - surround a flower-filled courtyard so picturesque it’s a favourite for wedding photographs.
Simple vintage-style furniture, thick terracotta tile floors, Portuguese-style walls of irregular grey stones, sloping beamed ceilings and shuttered windows with blue-and-white tiled sills make you feel like you’ve stepped back a couple of centuries. You may scratch your head at the touches of chintz, the sterile motel-style bathrooms (white tiles speckled with black and trimmed in cherry red?) and wall-mounted TVs, but the heating, air con and jetted bathtubs are among the welcome 21st-century touches.
Forego the three newer, modern rooms on the second storey and plump for one of the original Colonial Rooms. Out of these, the best bets are the Superior Rooms. They're more spacious than the rather cave-like Standard Rooms, with natural light from windows facing a cobbled side street. Note some experience ambient noise from the adjacent restaurant. The 2 front-facing suites offer even more room and natural light, along with whirlpool baths, but there can be some noise (note that the Semi-Suite doesn't have a separate sitting area) from the Plaza Mayor 25 de Mayo, one of the main focal points of Colonia.
Mod cons in all rooms include satellite TV, minibars, hairdryers, small safes, coffee- and tea-making facilities and roomy wardrobes with shelves and drawers. Note that the WiFi signal may not penetrate the thick walls of your room, so you might have to get online in the garden, lobby, reception or cafeteria instead.
Enjoy breakfast with a spectacular view of the river in the second storey 'cafeteria'. More charming than the name implies, this long wood-panelled room is inviting, with cheery blue and white checked tablecloths, an antique sideboard and a bar. The typical buffet includes yoghurt, juice, fresh fruit, cold cereal, ham, breads and pastries including croissants and cakes, jam, coffee, and hot water for tea.
Drinks and snacks (essentially the same fare offered at breakfast) are available via 24-hour room service, but for anything more substantial you'll need to head out. You can also get a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoons in the cafeteria.
Just opposite is the pink-walled Pulperia de los Faroles, which has live music most nights, and specialises in beef and bean dishes and homemade pasta. El Buen Suspiro is a good little wine bar with great cheeses and small plates; La Florida also gets good feedback. For dinner, Meson de la Plaza, opposite the Basilica, has a romantic vibe in a colonial setting and we liked their rich dishes; while the pricier Restaurante del Yacht, has a 3-sided view of the river. We also loved lingering over a café cortado (steamed milk 'cut' with a shot of espresso) at a shady sidewalk table outside La Luna, where the main drag - Avenida General Flores - meets the river. You may want to get to know menu terms, including cooking styles and cuts of beef served in local parillas (steakhouses) - perhaps even more popular here than in Buenos Aires. To further confuse things, chivito means something completely different in Uruguay than it does in Argentina - not goat, but beef loin (topped with lettuce, tomato, green olives, hard-boiled eggs with mayonnaise on a thin muffin-like bun), and much championed by aficionados.
Families are welcome; there's no charge for children under the age of 2. No extra beds are available but baby cots can be provided on request.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years)
No extra beds are available but baby cots can be provided in most rooms on request.
Children will love the nearby uncrowded freshwater beaches, which have calm water safe for swimming. There's a (somewhat rickety) playground just next to the Feria Artisanal and Stadium.