Travel to SantiagoSantiago - South American Sizzle
A stylish city, Santiago is one of the heavy-hitters on the South American scene. Chile is a relatively affluent country, exuding a European feel spiked with South American sizzle. Whether you invade Chile with your entourage, the one you’re with or the one you shouldn’t be with, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Forget a frantic pace, though. Here, it’s all about casual strolls and indulging in Chilean WINES in neighborhoods that go from perfectly manicured to grittily hip.
You’ll find a buffet of sleek hotels in Santiago. For boutique, check into the new Aubrey, at the foot of Cerro San Cristobal in the urban-trendy Bellavista neighborhood. On the more manicured side, Las Condes is your neighborhood – it’s architecturally pristine, with flower-filled terraces in gorgeous apartment buildings. To use those Starwood points, check in to the new W, which is considerably better than their U.S. counterparts – the rooms are larger, and the hotel hosts Santiago’s hottest after-dark scene. For a stay fit for a President, the Ritz Carlton hotel is around the corner. The Executive Level offers an all-inclusive package with exceptional food and beverages, and many well-heeled locals have membership access to the pool and lounge, so you’re often in good company. The service can be a bit puzzling from time to time, but hey, that’s the Ritz.
Start the weekend by wandering through the Alonso de Córdoba, doing some damage at the boutiques and bar-hopping in search of the perfect pisco sour. Alonso de Córdoba is the Beverly Hills of Santiago: Chilean designers have set up shop on one end of the street, and big international designers like Escada and Louis Vuitton on the other. Our preference is the local side, including Veronica Blackburn for home goods, Maria Vasquez for original clothing and Souk for perfectly edited designer wear. From here, break at Santabrassa Parilla for Chilean wine and Argentine steaks. Newly fortified, get back to shopping: Pick up fragrant gifts at Bath & Blanc, beautiful stationary at Papelería and children’s goodies at La Blanqueria
Stop for coffee at the simple Las Bezanilla, with outdoor seating where you can check out the Santiago scene. If Santabrassa Parilla wasn’t for you, go for a lower-key brunch at La Cocineria or Café del Barrio. Save your sweets, though, for the tiny bakery Pasteleria, or Galleteria de Laurar, a Santiago institution since 1968. Around the corner, pop into Poupee, for stylish gear. After spending the day in picturesque Las Condes, you’ll understand why so many infamous individuals have sought exile here – it’s very easy to envision yourself living in one of the gorgeous full-floor flats.
For late afternoon, all of our hotel recs have perfecto pool scenes. The W features one of the best gyms in the city (you can buy a pass if not staying in the hotel), while in Las Condes, break a sweat at Estudio Pilates on Presidente Riesco.
Stay local for your first night, in Las Condes, which is the glitziest of the glitz. The locals go to Ox, for the best steak in town, or Nolita, a popular Italian spot. Enjoy after-dinner drinks on the W rooftop lounge, taking in views of this sprawling city with the Andes looming in the distance. To jumpstart the late-night partying, head to the club downstairs, where one of Santiago’s best DJs holds court.
The next day, detox by exploring the highest point of the city, Cerro San Cristobal. You can hike – a ritual for active locals – or take the funicular. Either way, you’ll find many paying homage to the statue of the Virgin Mary, while taking in the views of the city. From here, refuel over coffee at the Aubrey Hotel poolside terrace. Their restaurant, Pasta e Vino, is the best Italian in the city. Walk through the café-filled Bellavista and Providencia neighborhoods to the old city center. On the way, you’ll see the beautiful Museo des Bellas Artes, which is worth a browse for its fine art collection, though more so on a rainy day.
Downtown is surprisingly unimpressive for a capital city: The old market is lined with tzotchke vendors and aggressive restaurant touts. The main artery is the Plaza de Armas, which passes the Cathedral, Constitution Square and the Presidential Palace. The city becomes prettier again near the Archivo Nacional, where you should climb to the top of Cerro Santa Lucía, the highlight of the old city.
In the late afternoon, head to the shopping malls to outfit yourself in chic South America threads. We generally avoid malls like the plague, but they do have some of the city’s best boutique designers including Rapsodia, Paula Cahen, Akiabara, Jazmin Chebar and Prune.
On your second night, hit the bohemian neighborhoods of Bellavista and Providencia again, where it’s a different world when the sun goes down. The hottest place right now – especially after 9pm – is the Asian-Latin Vietnam Restaurant, where you go through the kitchen to an unassuming dining room before you reach the real attraction – the gorgeous outdoor garden. You’re not going to find this one on the tour bus circuit. Afterwards, go to Republicano in Providencia for drinks – take a taxi because the neighborhood can be sketchy. Republicano is another under-the-radar nightspot, with a mini beach amid outdoor couches and Indonesian-inspired furniture.
Start your last twenty-four hours with brunch at Coquinaria in the W, popular with Santiago jet-setters, and then set off on a day-trip of wine-tasting or to check out the lovely town of Valparaiso. On your way back into the city, stop by Zanzibar, for a cool drink on their Moroccan-themed terrace, and then enjoy a final feast at Pinpilinpausha, a low-key traditional Chilean restaurant, or Aqíi está Coco, for white-tablecloth service and solid seafood. As the sun sets, order another bottle of Chilean wine, and toast adios to the Santiago night.