Calle Higuera 133, Cerro Alegre, Valparaíso, Chile
Perched on a hillside among buildings looking like they’re spilling down to the port below, Casa Higueras combines panoramic views with attentive service and inviting facilities.
The UNESCO World Heritage city of Valparaíso is jammed with places to stay, from large hotels in the flat part near the water to B&Bs tucked into the narrow streets and alleyways reached by huffing up the hill or by funicular ride. Casa Higueras rises above the others though with its pampering rooms and excellent restaurant.
Getting here is the hard part: arriving with someone who knows the area is far better than trying to navigate these narrow old streets with a rental car. Past a simple entrance to what was a 1920s mansion is a welcoming small lobby with dark wood, local maritime artifacts, and staffers who are fluent in English.
Billed as a “boutique + design” hotel, Casa Higueras hits all the right notes with its 20 guest rooms and attractive public areas. In warm weather most guests gravitate to the rectangular swimming pool surrounded by lounge chairs. It has a view of the hillsides and the bay below, with large ships bringing cargo in and out of what was once the most important port in South America. In the hottest months there is a small snack bar and drink service here. A large heated whirlpool is more popular in cooler weather and an adjoining spa area has saunas and massage tables.
There are plenty of other places to take in the view, including the large roof terrace that is ideal for receptions and the open terrace that is part of the main restaurant. A garden area beside and below the pool offers spots for short walks or contemplation. A living room area by the restaurant functions as a lounge and library with a view and is filled with original art.
The Montealegre restaurant is excellent, featuring fresh seafood and dishes created with an abundance of local ingredients. At dinner you can choose from mood-lit romantic spots inside or an outdoor table with views of ship lights twinkling in the night. Naturally there is a well-though-out wine list, with many of the labels coming from only an hour or two away. The dessert choices here are especially sublime.
Befitting a restored mansion, rooms differ quite a bit in size and layout, but all are outfitted with interesting furniture and fixtures of a high standard. Most have a good view through extensive windows and/or have a private terrace. All rooms are equipped with minibars, flat-screen TVs with DVD player, safes, and a mix of comfortable furniture. The free Wi-Fi was spotty during my visit, but there are two complimentary computers set up in a lounge area if that fails. The seven suites are worth the cost of upgrading if you’ll be spending a good amount of time in your room as these have about twice as much space as the standard rooms.
Lots of little details make Casa Higueras special, from the think fluffy towels and soft sheets to the special bath toiletries housed in different boxes (with different products) for men and women.
This is a comfortable boutique hotel that manages to exude an artistic touch without being pretentious. Although it’s spread out over five floors, there’s an elevator for moving up and down. Just put on good walking shoes for when you step outside to explore Valparaíso!
Web Address: www.casahiguearas.com
Total Number of Rooms: 20
Published rates: $203 to $383
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.