Hotel Magnolia merges the best of Santiago’s past and present under one, brand-new roof

Hotel Magnolia
Huérfanos 539, Santiago, Chile
+56 2 2664 4043, hotelmagnolia.cl

The Pitch Located in the heart of Santiago’s bustling Centro neighbourhood, Hotel Magnolia is perhaps the Chilean capital’s happiest — and most beautiful — marriage of new and old. Thanks to a two-year renovation and expansion designed by award-winning architect Cazú Zegers, the 42-room boutique property picked up a UNESCO 2017 Prix Versailles for best new hotel in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Indeed, you can’t miss it: The building stands out for successfully stitching together the three storeys of a residence built in 1929 with a glass cube that houses three brand-new floors and a rooftop terrace overlooking Cerro Santa Lucía, one of the city’s two verdant downtown hills. Walk around Santa Lucía, and you’ll find two neighbourhoods that reflect the same cool/chic vibe of the hotel. Barrio Lastarria is home to hip cafés, vintage and indie clothing and design shops, cutting-edge galleries, and wine bars that pour hard-to-find, homegrown organic and natural wines by the glass. And in the opposite direction, also mere minutes by foot, you hit Barrio Bellas Artes, home to the grand Museo de Bellas Artes and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, and, if you need to shake a leg, the many paths criss-crossing the lush Parque Forestal.

What We Love We couldn’t get enough of the design. As soon as you step through the black-and-white marble-floored lobby to the golden reception desk, you’re surrounded by sophisticated touches that give away the property’s 1929 heritage while revealing a contemporary, creative vibe. Stained-glass windows and wood detailing have been restored and juxtaposed alongside new features, such as metal-wire and -mesh railings, minimalist black metal light fixtures, and a glass atrium that cuts through the original three floors and up through the three new levels that were added to bring the hotel to the same height as its neighbours. It’s like a giant light well — if you stand on the rooftop terrace, you can see people entering the lobby.

Hotel Magnolia

Photo courtesy Hotel Magnolia

And regardless of whether you book a junior or senior suite, you’ll find a restful cocoon in each one. All the rooms are kitted out with warm wood panelling and furniture and textiles made from natural materials such as wool and cotton. No wonder we felt so at home after a busy day of jogging, taking in art, eating ice cream and figuring out the best food and wine parings while out exploring the surrounding area.

Don’t Miss At the on-site restaurant, pay homage in the best way possible — through your stomach — to Chile’s most famous poet. Chef Claudio Zúñiga prepares a killer caldillo de congrio, a dish elevated and immortalized in an ode written by Nobel Prize-winner Pablo Neruda. The soup comes with a generous portion of conger eel surrounded by earthy local potatoes and a thick, savoury broth that had us wanting to lick our plates. But Zúniga’s creativity doesn’t end there; you can also dig into other regional fare, such as Carmenère-braised Patagonian lamb or old-world-new-world king-crab-stuffed salmon. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail before painting the town red or a nightcap after you get back, head to Hotel Magnolia’s rooftop terrace and order the avocado pisco sour. Muddled into the drink, the avocado adds a delicious smoothness to the acidic base. Talk about a successful marriage of tradition and the avant-garde. Or you could just call it a love potion. 

Rooms from $200.

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