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Style: Monied traditional.
Scene: Perched on the edge of the hillside of Cerro Alegre, one of the two prettiest painted hills to the west of town, overlooking the port.
Seen in the lobby: Discerning American and European travellers, and well-heeled Chileans.

A SWITCHBACK taxi ride past the eye-popping street murals of UNESCO-listed Valparaiso brings us to a discreet facade at the end of a narrow street.

We've dodged a couple of dozen brightly painted hostels to arrive at the clubby calm of polished blackwood floors, dark panelling and quiet cream walls of what was once a private 1920s mansion-house.

Inviting lounging
Inviting lounging
Dinner on the terrace
Casa Higueras Bedroom
Poolside at Casa Higueras
Casa Higueras Restaurant
Casa Higueras Bathroom
casa higueras dining

Domestic history

Its history shows in the interiors: the public spaces are intimate and comfortable, with unexpected halls and corners with a settle or a sofa, or a large round table with flowers. 

This is a sitting room we can make our own, settling down with a magazine and a drink in an overstuffed chair with a view.

The ambitions of the hotel restaurant (the Montealegre) belie the fact that the hotel has only 20 rooms, albeit some rather grand ones. The constraints of a historic building mean that not every room boasts floor length windows or a balcony, but it's an affordable price for a depth of character and charm. 

After-dinner port

There's a refreshing reality to the views from our windows, stretching away to the high-rise beach resort of Vina del Mar to the east, and with the bright lights and surreal 24-hour activity of the container port directly below. Dawn over Valparaiso Bay is a photo moment.

Candlelit dinner on the balustraded terrace overlooking the twinkling lights of the port is another one. Blankets are folded over chairs in case the evening gets chilly (sea breezes can make Valparaiso up to eight degrees cooler than Santiago in summer). we can always repair indoors to take your desert and digestif in a comfortable chair near a fireplace. 

But on a hot summer's day it would be hard to resist the allure of that pool and spa on the lower garden terrace: delightful for a relaxing massage, a light lunch and a dip after a morning's UNESCO sightseeing. Aaah... Valpo.  

Check in: Calle Higuera 133, Cerra Alegre, Valparaiso, Chile
Most Indulgent Moment:  Candle-lit dinner on the terrace with a cosy rug on your knees. 
Insider Secrets: Ask for one of the Deluxe rooms with a balcony. In the afternoon, you may have the pool terrace completely to yourself. 
Junior Luxies: Over-12s are welcome, but there's no foozball or pool noodles. 
Dress code: Understated chic. 
Perfect luggage: Your Carolina Herrera duffle bag won't look out of place in the foyer, but don't swank your labels on the street.
Dent in the platinum
Luxury Hotels Link: www.casahigueras.cl

Jennifer Stevenson 30/04/16

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