Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Santiago, Chile’s largest and capital city, is an eclectic mix of old and new world culture. Founded in 1541 by the Spanish, Santiago shares a rich history with many other South American cities, yet it distinguishes itself as the ultimate urban destination of diversity – in geography, climate and attitude.

History is still very much alive throughout Santiago. Beautifully preserved historic government buildings, museums, churches and countless plazas and parks dominate most of the city public areas. Santiago is expansive…made up of countless neighborhoods or barrios – each with its own distinctive character and appeal. To keep you on track, a good map is a necessity. But to maximize your time in Santiago, I highly recommend hiring an experienced guide to show you the highlights.

With the beautiful Andean Mountains as its backdrop and the Pacific Ocean under two hours away, Santiago is truly blessed. Its prime geographic location makes Santiago the ultimate ‘gateway city” offering a visitor easy access to the best of Chile.

Fast Fact: Santiago was named the #1 Destination to visit for 2011 by the New York Times.

From world-class skiing, mountain trekking, wine country excursions, beach getaways, culinary farm stays, and unparalleled outdoor adventures – the opportunities for creating unforgettable memories are limitless.

For an in-city colorful unique experience, the Bellavista Barrio is your place.

Santiago’s beloved bohemian quarter, Bellavista, is the heart of a thriving arts community and the epicenter of nightlife and dining. Often compared to Paris’s Montmartre and Marais districts, Bellavista is the core of innovative design and artistic energy. Visual and culinary distractions run rampant here. It would take no less than a week to uncover Bellavista’s favorites & fabulous finds.

A fully authentic Santiago experience requires immersing oneself in the local flavor and history. That experience begins with your hotel choice. Finding a hotel that is centrally located and excels in superior comfort and service is never an easy task…but I was lucky to find Santiago’s best kept secret in the heart of Bellavista.

The Aubrey, an elegantly renovated colonial mansion, is an escape from the ordinary.

This intimate luxury boutique property, nestled at the foot of Santiago’s San Cristobal Hill and Metropolitan Park, has been on the “hot list” since it opened in March 2010.

The owners have masterfully taken a tired property and created a modern and sophisticated private retreat that is a trendsetter from its decor to its heated outdoor pool terrace. The Aubrey’s architectural and design philosophy is evident upon arrival – a creative mix of casual elegance and imaginative historic preservation.

Built in 1927, as the home of one of Chile’s most influential politicians and business leaders, the mansion has always been in the spotlight. When converted into a hotel, the property was expanded by securing the stately home next door, which was built in the same year by the same architect.

Today, the Aubrey welcomes discerning guests to an oasis of classic comfort and style.

The hotel’s 15 rooms are charmingly unique. My room, on the second floor level, was bright and spacious with a double balcony overlooking the nearby park. Guests have several options available, but one may prefer a suite facing the back courtyard to avoid the potential street noise on the weekends.

The common salon areas are tastefully decorated with antiques and unusual design pieces offering an inviting and cozy ambience; the oversized chairs, sofa and soft lighting are special touches make the Aubrey feel like home.

The Aubrey’s attentive bi-lingual staff works wonders daily to meet your every need from booking tours and transportation to providing insider tips on local restaurants, shopping and nearby attractions. Unlike the big franchise hotels, the staff-to-guest ratio is nearly 1:1, so expect to be pleasantly pampered throughout your stay.

The Aubrey’s storied past and present-day commitment to excellence promises to deliver a sensational Santiago sojourn too perfect not to share.

Location: Santiago – Bellavista (near Metropolitan Park & Zoo); 20 minutes to Santiago International Airport

Preferred Airline: LAN Airlines – the leader in travel to South America.
Check LAN Airlines online for special promotions or contact LAN Vacations for inclusive cost-saving packages and for all your trip planning needs.

Rooms: 15 luxury guest rooms & suites

Amenities:

  • Keyless Entry – magnetic keycard
  • In-room Temperature Control
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout hotel
  • 24 hour reception
  • 24 hour security
  • Complimentary mineral water
  • Complimentaty Breakfast
  • Large LCD Flat Screen TV
  • i-Pod docking station
  • Plush featherbeds with fine linens
  • In-room stocked mini-bar/fridge
  • Desk
  • Marble tiled bathroom with oversized shower
  • Hair Dryer
  • Robes
  • Private Balcony (select rooms)
  • Heated outdoor swimming pool
  • Piano Lounge

Room Rates: Double Standard Rooms start at $240 US

Visit Aubrey Hotel Reservations online for special packages and promotions.

Why a Girlfriend Getaway Top Pick?

Safe & Stylish

Every A-lister’s “home away from home” where the staff knows your name… Or for those guests who desire a discreet romantic rendezvous or total anonymity … so conveniently forget it.

When to Go: Year Round.

But remember, the seasons are reversed if coming from the U.S.

“Top Pick” Tour Operator: Santiago Adventures
Owner, Brian Pearson and his wife Sira Berte, both Americans, moved to Chile in 2003 to take a break from their careers. They fell in love with Chile and have never looked back. Eight years later, Brian runs a one of the best tour companies in Chile. He and his team of travel experts will treat you like family…creating a custom tour that will exceed your expectations.  

Whether it is an afternoon city tour, a day trip to Valparaiso, a weekend escape to wine country or visiting any of Chile’s amazing destinations from north to south, Santiago Adventures understands there are no second chances when it comes to making dreams come true!

 Bellavista & Santiago Best Bets:

  • An evening at Patio Bellavista a popular retail shopping and nightlife complex just two blocks from the hotel. The alfresco cafes/bars are always bustling with activity — it is the perfect rest stop for a cocktail and the area’s best people-watching! Before you leave, pop into Busco Mi Vestido for a custom fitted knit dress that is guaranteed to turn a few heads back home.
  • A visit to the Pablo Neruda Museum, just around the corner from the Aubrey. The home, La Chascona, home to Neruda and his longtime lover, gives visitors a glimpse into the inspiration and passionate work of Chile’s most beloved Nobel-laureate poet.
  • A hike or cable car ride to the top of San Cristobal Hill for a sweeping view of the city.
  • A meal at Cuidad Vieja (Old City) – a Bellavista religious culinary experience. Order one of their notorious mouth-watering sandwiches like the Carne Mechada….and you will be in heaven. There is a reason this place is ranked 5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor!
  • Shop at Santiago’s fashionable Lastarria Street where you will find several independent stores showcasing local designers and artists. Be sure to check out –Calda Bazar and Tienda Nina Luna for artisan hand-made originals.
  • Visit the Museum of Visual Arts (MAVI) – also on Lastarria Street – to see a comprehensive collection of Chilean art ranging from painting, sculpture, drawing, mixed media and more.
  • An afternoon in Santiago’s historic city center plaza – the Plaza de Armas. Here you will find historic government buildings and the Cathedral of Santiago, a treasured national monument dating back to the 1700’s.
  • A tour of the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and the Museum of Fine Arts -featuring world-class exhibits that will inform, enlighten and inspire.

For more information on Chile, visit the Embassy of Chile website or go directly to the Chile tourism subsite –www.thisischile.cl

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