It's not often you can stay in a castle within the city limits. This hotel’s gothic architecture is charming, and its location makes exploring Santiago, Chile easy.
Wherever Chris and I travel, we keep a sharp eye out for boutique hotels in the local area. Each one usually has its own unique features and style, and these details make the experience that little bit more interesting and fun. Why stay in a room which could be anywhere in the world, when you can have something with its own personality? Often this personality has grown from the city or place in which the hotel is located, so staying in them can help reveal more about the destination and help you understand it better.
While in Santiago we came across one of these hotels – the accurately named Castillo Rojo – and jumped at the chance to see what it was all about. It is found in the Bellavista neighborhood of the city, a trendy part of town close to the city center. Its name translates as ‘Red Castle’ and sure enough, when we arrived we were met with the sight of a large gothic mansion, standing on its own in front of a small plaza.
Bellavista was originally built as a place for the richer inhabitants of Santiago to escape to, as the city’s population grew. It is across a river from the center, and at its other end are the slopes of San Cristobal hill. In recent years its spacious mansions have been painted bright colors and murals cover many of their walls. Bars have popped up everywhere, and it's safe to say that the area has become cool – if a little touristy in some places. Santiago itself is the busy capital of Chile, and it is a modern, safe city. Although often overlooked in favor of the country’s many natural wonders, the city is worth a visit as there are plenty of things to see and do.
Castillo Rojo was built in 1923 by a wealthy entrepreneur and quickly became a local landmark. It wouldn’t look out of place in Bavaria or Austria with its timber framing and pointed roof. Inside it feels equally Germanic due to the wood panelled walls and large chandeliers. This is matched by the furnishings in the lobby and wine bar. Here you can recline on plush purple velvet couches, and admire the gold framed portraits of the building’s earlier inhabitants. I have to say that I love this design. It gives you a sense of being somewhere with tradition and importance.
We stayed in the classic room which was described as being petite and cozy – a fair description. It was a bit on the small side for the two of us and all our luggage, so next time we would probably go for a larger room. That is not to say we didn’t like it however, far from it. The design was nice and simple, and it had all the features we needed. I especially liked that the window actually opened so we could let some fresh air into the room, this has not always been the case in some of the hotels we have stayed in. Another nice touch were the chocolates and the bottle of sparkling wine which were waiting to greet us as we first came in.
The hotel is a little light on amenities but this is to be expected as it is a converted mansion house. It is not really a problem as you can find pretty much everything you need in the nearby area without too much effort. There are TVs in the rooms and air conditioning, while wifi is available everywhere in the building. They also offer a shuttle bus to the airport and a laundry service. There is no restaurant in the hotel although they do provide a lovely basic breakfast. This consists of a small buffet spread, as well as the option of eggs made to order.
There is also a lounge/wine bar on the second floor and this is a great space to relax in during the day, or in our case, catch up on some work. It would also be a good place to meet up with friends and enjoy a glass of wine before heading out to dinner.
One of the hotel’s strong points is its location. Bellavista is a lovely neighborhood and there is lots to see and do nearby. The city center is a short trip away and is easily reachable by metro, bus, or taxi. Once there, you can admire the historic buildings and this is where many of the city’s main attractions can be found.
Right around the corner from Castillo Rojo is the funicular which will take you up to the top of the Cerro San Cristóbal Hill. From here you can get one of the best city views in the whole of Santiago and the sight of the mountains is breathtaking. There is a nice park at the top and a big statue of the Virgin Mary. We recommend getting there early as there can sometimes be long lines for the funicular.
Wandering around Bellavista is also a pleasant way to spend some time. There are loads of artsy bars to visit, and restaurants serving up great food. Patio Bellavista is the main hub, and the glass-fronted businesses of the sunken square there are always packed. It was just a little too touristy for our liking, but the surrounding streets were great. Don’t be afraid to wander down these smaller side streets, there are some gems waiting to be discovered down them. The area’s arty vibe goes back quite a while and many creative people have lived there. The poet and Chilean national hero Pablo Neruda lived nearby, and his house had been converted into a museum. Here you can learn all about the Nobel prize winning laureate and see how he designed his home.
Castillo Rojo is a great place to base yourself if you are in Santiago, and want somewhere a bit different to stay. Its gothic design will charm you, and there is something nice about staying in a local landmark. Its location as well is a plus, as everything you will likely want is close by.
For more information about this hotel, please follow the link below