Casa Higueras - Valparaiso, Chile
Chile is a very diverse country and it is hard to decide whether to visit the North with the Atacama desert, the South with the world famous Torres del Paine National Park or stay in the centre to tour Santiago and then relax on the sea to then move to the wine valleys for an extraordinary experience. I just had a month and decided to see the South and the Centre, also because I thought I could visit Atacama once I head to Machu Pichu. So after an exciting time in Patagonia, Buenos Aires, Uruguay and Northern Patagonia, we landed back in Santiago, grabbed our rental car and headed straight to the seaside. First stop was of course the lovely Casablanca valley with its renowned Casas del Bosque winery – which reminded me very much of the Provence. Soon after we explored the wines and bought a special bottle, the drive continued to what seems to be the second famous place in Central Chile: Valparaiso. While latter one is less sophisticated than its neighbour Vina, it’s the Bohemian lifestyle and architecture that make this important harbour city, a remarkable place. No wonder that the only two interesting luxury hotels (if you don’t consider a Sheraton interesting) are located in Cerro Alegre, the poshest area in the heart of Valpo – as the locals use to call Valparaiso.
As luck would have it, we managed to get the last available room at my favourite choice, the Casa Higueras. It was considered my first choice due to the more decent interior design and the infinity pool. Once we finally reached the main heart of Valparaiso, it was very easy to navigate our limousine through the city, with roads being in good condition and traffic being alright. A few minutes later we found ourselves at the end of a side road with the signage: Casa Higueras tough were surprised to see a house as big as a private mansion. No wonder that the entrance looked like your usual home gate rather than the entrance to a five-star-hotel. How can this be a hotel with 23 rooms I asked Lukas, who was already entering the building and didn’t pay any attention to my useless questions once more. Having stepped feet into the property, two lovely ladies from the front desk were welcoming us in addition to a personal welcome by what seemed to be the general manager. I have to admit I did not expect such a warm hospitality in a city like Valpo – my prejudices being completely wrong. As it was only 11 am, the room was not ready but they assured to make sure it is ready by 1 pm. Meanwhile they arranged our car to be parked at their private parking spot and made sure our luggage is stored.
Since Lukas spent a month in this beautiful town, there was no need for a tour guide (which I would recommend in any case as a guide can tell you all the history and show you the most wonderful graffiti). Valparaiso is all about its graffiti and culture, people who expressed their lives in art and the trading that happened with the huge ships in the harbour. Please don’t forget to pack your hiking shoes or at least flat ones (it’s the last place on earth to wear high heels) as you will be walking up and down the hills no matter if you take the elevators (which by the way are old, not well maintained and not recommended to use by several chambers of foreign affairs by the way). Worth taking the steep hike you ask? Not really – so you won’t get around taking the elevators! After all they simply became part of the city so get over it and enjoy the stunning vistas of the different “Cerros”. I have to mention that Valparaiso very much reminded me of Lisbon, which is one of my favourite cities due to the different viewpoints and perspectives you get of a place.
When we returned back to the hotel – all sights are within walking distance and you rarely need a cab when going somewhere in Valpo – we were so much looking forward to dip into the refreshing outdoor pool and in fact it was even more beautiful than we imagined. The entire pool area is designed in a very beautiful way with gender separated changing rooms and saunas, plenty of sun loungers as well as a separate heated Jacuzzi that is also available during rainy days as it is covered. Let me describe the pool as refreshing, which is not too bad as it can get really hot and especially after a bit sightseeing, you will be more than happy to rejuvenate.
Our room was situated right next to the restaurant area and had a beautiful loggia overlooking the harbour and garden of the hotel. The Premium Superior room had a perfectly matching interior design and offered two twin beds, a writing desk, television, wardrobe and luggage rack as well as a bathroom with a single vanity, toilet and shower-/tub combo. Although I loved the entire design of the room, the highlight was the vast terrace with chairs and these amazing views. Free minibar consisting of 6 water bottles, including sparkling water (finally!) as well as a box of chocolates were provided as a courtesy of the house which is a lovely add-on. Turn down service has been done in a very good way, however the toiletries were not branded, so nothing to take home.
Even though there is a happy hour during sunset time, we decided to get ready for a long night on Valpo’s streets so our next stop was a lovely Pizzeria (pretended to be the best in the entire area, which we can approve). For all those who prefer to stay at the hotel, there is an upscale dining option on the terrace of the Casa Higueras overlooking the city – stunning venue that comes with a price tag. For us, the night continued with a cocktail called “Terremoto” – translated earthquake (not too uncommon in Chile and especially in Valparaiso, the earthquake not the cocktail). Not really ready but needing to leave Valparaiso for Colchagua Valley - the grand finale of our trip – we made our way to breakfast where we were served Eggs Benedict along a small but qualitative selection of breakfast items on the buffet. I especially liked the brownies with some fresh strawberries. Also the orange juice was very good and the stunning view made the entire breakfast experience a lot better. Last but not least, to sum it up, Casa Higueras is the most wonderful place to stay in the Vina/Valpo area and definitely our first choice for any future stay. While not the cheapest place to stay, definitely not a waste of money.
We were guests of Casa Higueras, however all above written expresses our own opinion and has not been influenced.