Calle El Alcalde No. 15, Santiago, Chile
The only Ritz-Carlton hotel in South America shines with a recent renovation and a notably comprehensive Club Lounge.
Santiago's Ritz-Carlton opened in 2003 with 205 rooms. Since that time, it has remained the lone outpost with that brand name anywhere in Central or South America. So it could afford to coast, without making many updates.
That changed in 2017 and 2018 though: the hotel renovated all rooms and the Club Lounge. The designers incorporated a palette inspired by Chile: blues and whites reflect the country's sea and snow while copper accents are a nod to the valuable resource found underground. The lobby and lobby lounge are getting an update soon to match the fresh and modern look of the rooms.
For those longing for the pleasingly stuffy traditional Ritz look and feel, head to the old-school lobby bar with its dark wood and leather. The bar, which will not be renovated, is also home to the hotel's Macallan Club which provides lockers to store the personal bottles of guests and local whisky lovers.
The hotel's 205 rooms come in four categories: Deluxe Rooms at 430 square feet, Junior Suites at 540 square feet, Executive Suites at 650 square feet, and a 2,000 square foot Presidential Suite on the 14th floor. Rooms designed for guests with special needs are not common in Latin America, however, two rooms at The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago are fully handicapped accessible and can be joined to neighboring rooms.
All rooms (except the special needs rooms) have bathtubs with a hand-held showerhead for easy rinsing after your soak. The tub in my room looked small, but felt quite roomy and well-designed when I used it. Asprey bathroom amenities (lotion, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, and soap) are also included, plus shaving and dental kits. Other notable room amenities include USB charging ports, international outlets, slippers, and comfortable robes.
There were a few rookie missteps, however, that I didn't expect from a Ritz-Carlton, like rock hard pears and bruised apples in the fruit plate in my Junior Suite. The windows were also surprisingly drafty and I struggled to get my room warm enough. I also struggled with the lights which were wired so that they were either all on or all off. In addition, the non-ergonomic desk chair was almost too heavy to move and it was not high enough to work comfortably at the desk.
The hotel's indoor Jacuzzi and heated pool are under a glass dome, which creates a warm and relaxing solarium-like space. The nearby spa, which was also recently renovated and is popular with locals as well as hotel guests, has three treatment rooms plus a saunas and steam rooms. All guests are free to use the pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms as well as the hotel gym which is located above the pool.
The best amenity at The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago, however, may be its Club Lounge. While many hotel club level or executive level facilities are little more than a dusty printer and a wan happy hour tucked into a space too small to be a guest room, the Club Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago combines the very best of a business center, exclusive lounge, all-day restaurant, and bar. Located on the 10th floor, the spacious and light-filled Club Lounge is open 24 hours a day (though only staffed from 7 am to 11 pm). Programmed offerings begin with breakfast for those who want privacy and swiftness and are willing to skip the vast downstairs breakfast buffet to get it. Lunch service includes salads, small sandwiches, meats, cheeses, desserts and a few hot dishes such as quinoa or soup.
In between scheduled meals, you can enjoy always-available snacks, Chilean wine, craft beer, soft drinks, tea, water, and coffee from a Britt machine. In the evening, you'll find cocktails and a small dinner buffet. Special events in the Club Lounge include a wine tasting every third Thursday.
Of the hotel's 205 rooms, 49 are considered Club rooms and include access to the Club Lounge. If you are in a room that does not include Club Lounge access, it may be worth upgrading to a Club room or adding a Club Lounge fee to your room in order to gain access to the services and amenities at this enclave within the Ritz-Carlton. During my stay at the hotel, I worked, ate lunch, and enjoyed Chilean wine in the Club Lounge. I also tapped into the Club Lounge concierge to get a pair of pants pressed in a hurry.
The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago's Estro restaurant was also renovated recently, but it still seems to be finding its look. For example, the long communal table surrounded by glassed-in racks displaying some of the hotel's large collection of wine is lovely and sophisticated. But the first room of the restaurant seems vacant and uninviting.
The Estro restaurant's dinner menu changes seasonally and may feature dishes like oxtail filled gyozo with radish emulsion and a battered and deep-fried poached egg. Or a skirt steak marinated in black beer and served with three types of Chilean potatoes. Prices are more reasonable than you'd expect to encourage local non-guests to dine there.
The hotel's El Golf/Las Condes neighborhood is also home to other reservation-worthy dining options including the nearby 99 Restaurante where the casual atmosphere, very buttoned-up tasting menu, and extremely innovative wine list earned it the number 28 spot on the 2018 list of Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants.
With Chile's hotel competition heating up a bit more each year, The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago is working hard to stay at the top of the heap in the capital.
Web Address: RitzCarlton.com/santiago
Total Number of Rooms and Suites: 205
Published Rates: $350 to $4,000 double occupancy including breakfast
Review by Karen Catchpole, photos by Eric Mohl.