“Santiago’s first boutique hotel: a neglected mansion brilliantly transformed into a designer haven”
Once owned by a Chilean railway magnate, The Aubrey still feels like a patrician’s sprawling manor house, with hidden corners of exquisite Chinese ceramics or avant-garde sculptures, collected by Australian co-owner Mark Cigana. You might reach your room by a sunny patio or via a hemp-covered staircase. We had a private entrance: a stained-glass door with the initial ‘A’ - for namesake Aubrey Beardsley, the Victorian illustrator whose Art Nouveau style has influenced Mark and partner Will Martin’s vision.
The door opened to a lobby (our own!) with a white sofa, swivel purple leather chairs, copper globe lighting and an impressive distressed wood drinks cabinet. Tudor-style black beams on white walls continued into the bedroom (with a massively comfortable kingsize bed), where they were offset by a mauve mural of tree-blossoms and cream taffeta curtains. We were in the Art Deco Suite, one of 2 - the other, the San Cristobal, is equally striking, with pink-and-olive colouring, a square bathtub in the room and a terrace overlooking the pool.
There are 2 Terraza rooms - the Venetian and Parque Metropolitano - that have long balconies and modern designer chairs to sit and admire the green vista. The 3 Loft rooms are on the top floor, each one with distinctive décor; we especially liked the good use of space in the Japanese one with its tatami mat and bright cushions. One of the 2 Mannarelli rooms has an ebony 4-poster bed; a blue leopard painting hangs above the other, both are kingsize. Pavillion rooms are best for couples as the bedroom is separated from the bathroom by a glass wall; one of these rooms (#12) has a Jacuzzi on its patio. The remaining Habitaciones Constitución rooms have queensize beds, pop-art pillows and small patios. All beds are dressed in 300-thread cotton linens.
Bathrooms are smart and clean with walk-in rainforest showers, night lighting and upmarket terraSpirit Chilean toiletries that are replenished daily.
All rooms are soundproofed, have free WiFi and LCD TV with cable, and come with central heating and air conditioning. Actually our Art Deco Suite is the one room without A/C but this corner room with its thick stone walls was very cool, in every sense of the word.
Don’t make the mistake we did and sleep in till noon, only to find we had missed breakfast in The Dining Room (we were half an hour too late). Freshly squeezed orange juice and a bowl of fruit is brought to your table, followed by yoghurt and granola, then hot homemade buns and shortbread with jams and chunky marmalade. Ask if you'd like eggs too, cooked any way. Coffee is refilled frequently and for tea drinkers, a range of teas from Earl Grey to Lapsang Souchong, steeped in a teapot - certainly one way you can tell there is an Englishman behind the scenes.
On weekends there’s a little more freedom; brunch is available from 11am, expect British favourites like eggs benedict, a full English breakfast, omelettes and fresh juices on the side. Lunch is also served daily.
The Aubrey’s restaurant, The Dining Room serves dinner from 6.30pm until 11.30pm 7 days a week - particularly useful for those adjusting to a new time zone. Executive chef Mauricio Valdivino has created a menu of Chilean and international cuisine, constructed with locally sourced, seasonal produce. Menus include creations such as abalones Carpaccio with avocado cream and crispy abalones with homemade mayonnaise, and grilled beef fillet with Carménère wine sauce, creamy corn paste with rosehip and sautéed rocket. You can choose to dine indoors or outside in the charming cobbled courtyard. Please note that The Dining Room will be closed for renovations during the 2016 low season but should be back open again by around October.
If you’re not in the mood for a formal dinner, the Piano Bar fits the bill. A baby grand piano takes centre stage amongst chic wooden furniture and whimsical art and there are scrummy summer cocktails and tasty tapas to choose from. Sparking pear Mojito anyone?
For nights where a change of scene is in order, walk along the row of restaurants on Calle Constitucion - Ciudad Viejo has gourmet sandwiches and a pretty balcony, La Boheme is cheap and cheerful and La Barandiarán is a good Peruvian restaurant that backs onto the Patio Bellavista, a complex of even more restaurants, bars, and craft shops. Ask for suggestions from the helpful front desk - we were directed to a charming neighbourhood, Lastarria, and The Patagonia, where we had delicious spinach polenta and lamb magallanico. We walked back to the Aubrey for a late afternoon swim and a cooling drink by the pool, brought to our deckchair by the ever-smiling staff.
Santiago is full of sights - staff will be happy to arrange tours of the city, but there are plenty within walking distance:
The Aubrey is really a grown-up place although children are allowed. Older ones might appreciate the eclectic room decorations and playful furniture like the giant velvet pouffs and swing seat by the pool. There are no reductions for children. A cot can be provided in the Pavilion rooms or Terraza rooms free of charge. An extra bed can be put in the Art Deco Suite only.
A cot can be provided in the Pavilion rooms or Terraza rooms free of charge. The Art Deco Suite is the only one that can fit an extra bed. The Pavilion Rooms can be set up as twins.