Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Are You Feeling Chile?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Are You Feeling Chile?

Article excerpt

Byline: WEEKEND AWAY SANTIAGO DE CHILE SERINA SANDHU

SANTIAGO stands apart from its Latin American counterparts. Chile's capital is less like Rio de Janeiro or La Paz and will remind you instead of Barcelona and Paris. It's a city that demands at least a couple of days' exploration before plunging south to Patagonia or north to Atacama. It's impossible to walk a block without noticing European influences. Not surprising, perhaps, given that Chile spent more than 250 years under Spanish rule.

But the city isn't stuck in the past. Hipster culture has been creeping into a tiny district east of the centre. Spanning just a tiny three-block radius, Barrio Italia is a place for those with ideas and entrepreneurial spirit to launch start-ups. Retro barbers' shops, swanky restaurants and kooky shops, including a boutique dedicated entirely to teacups, are springing up, and vacant units awaiting the Barrio Italia stamp (yes, there really is a logo).

Beyond Barrio Italia there is still plenty to be said for Santiago's tourist trail. A trip to a high point such as the viewing deck at the Costanera Center's Gran Torre Santiago skyscraper (00 56 2 2916 9200; costaneracenter.cl), to catch a 360-degree view of the city will not disappoint. And neither will a tipple at one of the city's wineries.

Bed down: Small and simple Boutique hotels cluster on the outskirts of Barrio Italia. The charming Carmenere Eco Hotel (00 56 2 2204 6372; hotelcarmenere.com) combines country decor with a sense of zen -- not least because under-15s are not allowed to stay here.

There are just five rooms, each with simple, pared-back decor; check in to the Curico Valley room for French doors opening on to a private terrace. Breakfast is local and organic (fruit salad, scrambled eggs in a clay pan, fresh juice and coffee), while the wine cellar (perhaps better visited later in the day) brims with Chilean vino. Doubles from US$220 (PS147), b&b.

Fed and watered: Cosmopolitan cuisine In Barrio Italia, Chef Pablo Heiremans has been doing his own thing at Casaluz (00 56 2 2918 7204; casaluzrestaurant.cl) for the last three years. The vast space surrounds a small glass-walled courtyard filled with plants, with a low-lit dining area and a bar that spans a whole wall and livens up as the night progresses. …

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