Find Out Why This Overlooked South American City Is Now a Top Design Destination

4 years ago

Dotted with colonial architecture, verdant parks, native cuisines, and hip neighborhoods, like the leafy indie-flavored Lastarría, the sprawling city of Santiago offers plenty of welcome diversions. Add to that its burgeoning independent-business scene—full of boho wine bars, well-curated design stores, first-rate restaurants, fashionable clothing boutiques—and the metropolis, just a short drive from both the Pacific Ocean and rolling vineyards, is fast becoming a world-class destination for aesthetes with a taste for first-finds and a good deal. 

The 1920s façade of the Hotel Magnolia.       Photo: Cristobal Ganderats / Courtesy of Hotel Magnolia


Eat & Drink

 The terrace of Room 09.       Photo: Courtesy of Room 09

First you feast. Set in a 1950s-style diner, the relaxed Las Cabras serves traditional Chilean lunch including avocados stuffed with shrimp salad and Patagonia draughts. The cozy, loyally loved Bocanariz is the place for wine flights (think local Sauvignon Blanc and deep red Carménère). Inside chef Sergio Barroso’s (El Bulli) design-savvy Restaurante 040, find an inventive tasting menu known to feature beef tenderloin dumplings and seafood risotto. Afterward, sneak into speakeasy Room 09 for late-night libations. Meanwhile, the warmly lit Casa Lastarria has Chilean-style tapas, while the buzzy, kaleidoscopic Asian-Peruvian delight Sarita Colonia whips up fresh ceviche and potent cocktails. For classic pisco sours, the dimly lit Chipe Libre is your best bet. For snacks, the new Colmado Cafehas ample coffee and baked goods. Craving something sweet? The wildly popular Emporio Rosa doles out scoops of exotic rose-petal and choco-chile ice cream.


 A guest room at the Hotel Magnolia.     Photo: Cristobal Ganderats / Courtesy of Hotel Magnolia

In the heart of the city, drop your bags at the 42-room Hotel Magnolia. Following a tedious renovation, Chilean architect Cazú Zegers has added three floors to blend with the hotel’s 1920 antique façade, stained glass, stunning marble staircases, and harlequin-tiled floors. Meanwhile, designer Carolina Delpian’s soft, timber-clad rooms feature hand-painted headboards and Chilean fauna. Don’t miss a pisco sour atop the chic seventh-floor rooftop lounge. And, farther away from the city’s center in the El Golf district, the 205-room Ritz Carlton caters to a luxe crowd with dark wood and Andean flair including a spa with native treatments.


 Design studio Bravo! sells an array of bowls, chairs, and tables made with native lenga wood.
Photo: Courtesy of Bravo!


In-the-know women drop by the hip Mo storefront or Karyn Coo’s airy, minimalist boutiques, an homage to chic dresses. Of course, dapper gents shop native designer Carlos Perez’s atelier in Lastarria or find bespoke threads at Calabrese. Top off any new wardrobe with Panama hats at Donde Golpea. For rare, little-known wines, drop by Vinomio or the aptly titled Santiago Wine Club. For photography, peruse Close Up Chile and for furniture, the design studio Bravo! has a showroom with bowls, chairs, and tables made with native lenga wood. There are also ample LP stores—both El Cid Campeador and Needle Vinilos have rare Chilean and Latin records. For alpaca wool, ponchos, and colorful handmade wares, the arts and crafts market Feria Artesanal Santa Lucia has you covered.


The Museo de Arte Visuales.         Photo: Courtesy of MAVI


Culture aficionados drop by the small, accessible Museo de Artes Visuales for contemporary exhibits, and afterward visit the striking, copper-encased Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center with rotating art, concerts and a bustling café. Peek into renowned literary figure Pablo Neruda’s former house, La Chascona​, whose dining room is modeled after a ship’s cabin. Channel movie magic inside El Biógrafo Cinema, with a lineup of indie films. Stretch your legs along the surprisingly lush Parque Metropolitano, with its ample walking trails and a statue of Virgin Mary perched atop Cerro San Cristóbal granting sweeping views of the city (you can also hop aboard an old funicular). Still feeling adventurous? Head over to the Bellavista neighborhood, strolling Constitución Street, where the hip bars dovetail with street art.


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