Rambla República del Perú 1479, Montevideo, Uruguay
This contemporary boutique hotel in Uruguay's capital incorporates local culture, art, and style, even as it intentionally eschews over-the-top luxury.
Hyatt Centric Montevideo, a boutique property that opened in 2016 across the street from the beach in Uruguay's capital city, doesn't consider itself a "luxury" hotel.
This 178-room lodging in Montevideo's upscale Pocitos district certainly checks the luxury boxes: spacious rooms and suites, attentive English-speaking staff, and a grotto-like indoor lap pool. You get all the expected technology, from complimentary Wi-Fi to flat-screen TVs to in-room temperature controls.
Yet to appeal to today's traveler, the Hyatt Centric brand is aiming to provide "everything you need, but nothing you don't need," eliminating little-used perks or features, while giving travelers comfortable private and common spaces along with an introduction to local culture.
So how does this marketing philosophy translate into practice? Filled with local art, this 13-story Montevideo hotel feels more like an independent boutique property than a link in a standard chain. In this city of 1.8 million people but a surprisingly small number of upscale lodgings, it’s a modern business-friendly option that’s also comfortable for high-end leisure travelers, even those who’d normally avoid typical chain hotels.
Blending into a line of adjacent condo buildings, the Hyatt Centric is located across a busy boulevard from the landmark illuminated "Montevideo" sign, a popular sunset spot for vacation snapshots. Playa Pocitos, one of the city's nicest spans of sand, is a short walk away. A seaside path stretches from downtown past the hotel to the eastern suburbs, always busy with joggers and walkers.
Throughout the property, Hyatt Centric Montevideo incorporates elements of Uruguay's art and culture to avoid a typical "chain" feel, beginning in the Spanish Colonial-style entry, with black and white Art Deco tiles and accents in leather and iron.
To the right as you enter is a library, its floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books by local authors and titles about regional culture, from tango to chivitos (Uruguay's ubiquitous overflowing meat sandwich). It's a workspace for guests, too, with two common computers and a quiet corner to hole up with your own devices. On the walls are contemporary works by local artists.
To the left of the entry is the brightly colored Moderno Bar, with vibrant blue subway tiles on the walls above the marble bar, red shelving, and red velvet curtains. The mix of bar-height and lounge seating at both individual and communal tables encourages mingling. One night during our stay, local millennials overflowed out of the packed bar and into the lobby during a lively "25 Years of Electronic Music" event.
Front desk staff wearing blue blazers, crisp dress shirts, and jeans stand at individual red lacquer counters in front of a mural depicting a Montevideo cityscape. All the lobby staff we encountered spoke good-to-excellent English. The brisk and business-like concierge was particularly helpful, assisting with sightseeing recommendations and confirming a rental car reservation at a previously unresponsive local agency.
Local design elements continue on the guest floors, although often they're subtle. You have to look closely at the mirrored panels in the guest room entryways to realize that they're painted with Montevideo street scenes.
Guest rooms range in size from 400 to nearly 600 square feet (37 to 54 square meters). Most have king-sized beds with wraparound fabric-covered headboards, work desks, and sitting areas with love seats or mid-century modern chairs. Soft sweatshirt-style grey robes, in-room safes, and mini fridges are standard, as are bathrooms with granite counters and marble showers. Kettles with tea bags and instant coffee sachets are provided.
Beyond the size, the main difference among the standard rooms is the view, facing either Rio de la Plata or the city. While the river-view units do have expansive vistas across the water during the day, the landscape at night is almost entirely dark. From the city-view rooms, in contrast, you don't see any particular landmarks, but you do have twinkling nighttime lights.
The "club" rooms, on the hotel's upper floors, are similar in design and features to the standard room, but with the addition of in-room espresso machines and broader views. From these you have access to the 180 Club Lounge with a massive rooftop terrace and spectacular panorama of the river, beaches, and city. Club guests can take breakfast and evening cocktails in the lounge, get assistance from the club concierge, and book the club meeting room for appointments.
The hotel has just 14 suites, but they're spacious, ranging from 710 to 1,420 square feet (66 to 132 square meters). All have slightly different features, with some incorporating meeting spaces, kitchen facilities, or larger bathrooms with whirlpool tubs.
If you look closely at the wall at the entrance of the lobby-level Plantado Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you'll notice that it's made of iron letters. The letters are actually part of a poem by a Uruguayan writer, another subtle local reference. Inside, you can sit at one of the marble-topped tables or at a bar-style counter (handy for solo diners) under a skylight where a small tree is growing.
Breakfast is an ample buffet of fresh fruits, a sticky but excellent housemade granola, cheeses, cold cuts, and pastries, along with scrambled eggs, bacon, and potatoes. You can help yourself to juice—during our stay choices were orange or a tangy beet-strawberry blend—and staff pour coffee with hot milk (though they're not very quick with refills.)
In the evening, cooks bustle about in the open kitchen (apparently still a relatively unusual feature in Uruguay), preparing a small but interesting menu that goes beyond the city's typical steak and lettuce-and-tomato salad options. Our favorite dish was a meaty octopus served over mashed potatoes, and we enjoyed the day's fresh fish paired with a watercress and radish salad.
The hotel also has a small lobby-level café, offering coffee, along with medialunas, alfajores, and other pastries.
On the lower level are a small fitness studio and a surprisingly serene cave-like space with a narrow lap pool, surrounded by several lounge chairs. Both the pool and fitness center are open 24-7. The hotel doesn't have a full-service spa, but you can book a massage in a private treatment suite.
From the hotel, a taxi can take you downtown or to the old city in about 20 minutes. The airport is a 30-minute drive. The hotel can arrange taxi pickups, though staff often recommend using Uber.
Hyatt Centric Montevideo focuses on local art, technology, and spaces for modern travelers to gather, rather than deluxe amenities. It's not luxurious, as staff will tell you, but it's got style.
Web Address: www.montevideo.centric.hyatt.com
Total Number of Rooms: 178
Published rates: $170 -1,860 with breakfast
Review and photos by Carolyn B. Heller.