Style: Relaxed cognoscenti.
Scene: On the northern edge of the arty /foodie Barrio Lastarria. Close enough to the city's much-loved Parque Forestal to hear children playing in the fountains.
Seen in the lobby: Upscale US and South American travellers, leafing through architectural guides or Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia.
Santiago has glamorous 5-star hotels a-plenty. But the Luciano K, which opened in February 2016, has something that's in rather shorter supply: historic architectural charm.
This must be the prettiest Art Deco stairwell in the city. Open-sided at the top to the air and sunshine, it leads you up to the hotel's great draw card: a surprising rooftop bar and what must be a contender as smallest-ever hotel swimming pool.
Let's call it a dipping-pool, to contain expectations. On a hot day, it's as refreshing as an icy glass of limonada con menta.
An afternoon and evening suntrap, this space must be set to become Santiago's worst-kept secret rendezvous for drinks and a starlit supper, with views over the roofscapes of the Barrio Lastarria. (Watch out in your sundress as you walk across that glass-brick floor above the lightwell...)
The hotel is named after its lauded architect Luciano Kulczewski, sometimes dubbed the Chilean Gaudi. (He also designed the striking art deco building nearby which is now the College of Architects.) The whalebone-like arches of the hotel's entrance hallway will strike a chord with Barcelona architecture fans.
Originally an apartment building, in 1928 this was the height of modernism. Literally: the six-storey building was then the tallest in the Chile, as well as the first to have an elevator and a central hot water system.
Its restoration has now created a 38-bedroom boutique hotel with an informal, peaceful atmosphere. There are no cavernous foyers. Heels click across old tiles, and in the guest rooms mellow parquet floors highlight the clean, crisp decor.
The rooms aren't grand, but there's a surprising generosity to some of the spaces, which reflects the conversion. You could swing a puma in our bathroom, for example, and it had the light and generous windows so often sacrificed in modern, shoehorn-it-in hotel design.
Rooms at the front have a view across to Parque Forestal's ornate multi-tiered fountain, which seems to be a favourite splash-pond for swimsuited city children after school.
The breakfast buffet is low-key and relaxed, with attentive service. There's no formal evening dining, but with meals available up on the roof terrace, and the restaurants and buzzy streetlife of Lastarria's main avenue just a stroll away... why would you?
Staff are keen to please, and doorman Carlos is a total pro, with the ability to spot a taxi pulling up on the opposite side of the street before the wheels have stopped turning.
It's all a total charmer.
|Check in: Merced 84, Barrio Lastarria, Santiago, Chile|
|Most Indulgent Moment: Dabbling your toes in the rooftop pool, with a frosty pisco sour in hand as the sun goes down over the Santiago rooftops. |
|Insider Secrets: Luciano Kulczewski also designed the handsome building which now houses Chile's College of Architecture: it's only a short walk away at 215 L. Bernardo O'Higgins Avenue. |
|Dress code: White linen, elegant walking sandals. |
|Perfect luggage: Not too big for the heritage-style elevator!|
|Dent in the platinum: |
|Luxury Hotels Link: www.lucianokhotel.com|
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Jennifer Stevenson 3/05/16