The Australian - Wish Magazine - - HOTELS - W

In the north­east of San­ti­ago, the Las­tar­ria bar­rio is the Chilean cap­i­tal’s most bo­hemian neigh­bour­hood. In 1997, it was listed by the govern­ment as an His­toric Dis­trict and there’s real en­ergy and pur­pose afoot here with preser­va­tion projects and the care­ful restora­tion of many orig­i­nal late 19th- and early 20th-cen­tury build­ings. Think: gal­leries, bars, cafes, pave­ment artists, clever mu­rals, street per­form­ers, pedes­trian thor­ough­fares and an­ti­quar­ian book­shops.

The precinct is bor­dered by forested parks and im­por­tant re­li­gious and civic mon­u­ments and at its heart is a pri­vately owned boutique ho­tel with a cosy at­mos­phere and a col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal art lav­ishly dis­played in pub­lic ar­eas. A Swiss-Chilean fam­ily with deep roots in the lo­cal hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try opened The Sin­gu­lar San­ti­ago in 2014 and in­ter­na­tional awards of the hot-list ilk soon fol­lowed.

The nine-storey prop­erty, a fu­sion of town­house ver­nac­u­lar and French neo-clas­si­cal flour­ishes, lives up to its in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic name. The small­ish lobby, straight off the street, feels more like a draw­ing room, with a beamed ceil­ing, char­coal pal­ette, clus­ters of squashy muted green vel­vet so­fas and deep arm­chairs, and book-lined shelves. At the rear stands the twin­kling lit­tle Bar Merced 294 with a grey-swirled mar­ble counter and row of spher­i­cal cop­per down­lights. The bar’s name is a nod to the ho­tel’s ad­dress and white-jack­eted bar­tenders are on duty till an oblig­ingly late hour. Wall-to-wall art­work in­cludes old maps, retro Vogue mag­a­zine cov­ers, fash­ion sketches and finely ren­dered il­lus­tra­tions of en­demic birds, in­clud­ing hand­some and haughty para­keets. It’s all a bit 1920s, classy and gen­tle­manly, like the home of a so­phis­ti­cated trav­eller and col­lec­tor. Pass the cigar and smok­ing jacket, por fa­vor.

The tucked-away front desk is just that: a pol­ished study-like desk, not an im­per­sonal re­cep­tion podium. Im­pec­ca­bly groomed staff multi-task with great ef­fi­ciency, from book­ing taxis to ar­rang­ing lug­gage de­liv­ery or ad­vis­ing, cru­cially, on where to nab the best pisco sour tip­ple or ice cream cone. And, for the record, you don’t need to ven­ture any far­ther than Bar Merced 294 for the na­tional cock­tail. Or check the of­fer­ings around the corner at Chipe Li­bre Repub­lica In­de­pen­di­ente del Pisco on Jose Vic­torino Las­tar­ria. On that same strip is He­lade­ria Em­po­rio La Rosa, where fra­grant ice cream flavours in­clude a combo scoop of chilled lemon, basil and mint.

There are 61 well-pro­por­tioned gue­strooms and one suite across Pa­tio, Clas­sic and top-drawer Sin­gu­lar cat­e­gories; a few cham­bers have bal­conies but views worth a men­tion are only avail­able on the higher storeys. Decor is all cream, choco­late and caramel, in a pleas­ingly un­clut­tered style that feels like a pared-down ver­sion of the ephemera-laden lobby. There are ribbed car­pets, blackout cur­tains and stone-topped bed­side ta­bles, although light­ing should be a lot stronger. In­di­vid­ual touches in­clude brass desk-lamps, strate­gi­cally hung framed ar­chi­tec­tural plans and black and white pho­tog­ra­phy, swanky soft fur­nish­ings and com­pli­men­tary soft drinks in the small mini­bar. The king beds dressed in snowy white are glo­ri­ously com­fort­able (twin gue­strooms fea­ture two queen-size ar­range­ments) and the sizeable mar­ble bath­rooms come with good show­ers (and wal­low­ing tubs in the top cat­e­gories) and a gen­er­ous line-up of The Sin­gu­lar’s branded toi­letries in cit­rusy scents. Su­san Kuro­sawa is The Aus­tralian’s travel ed­i­tor.

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