Michael Webb explores the bustling capital of Santiago, Chile and makes a few new discoveries.
Aubrey: Stylish new boutique hotel in Bellavista, run by friendly Australians. If you cannot secure a room, stop by for a drink or dinner. (Constitucion 299-317; 02 940 2800)
Austral Suites: Located in Providencia, 16 apartments of varied sizes for $80 a night and up. (Francisco Encina 1781 at Concepcion; 02 567 6052)
Eat & Drink
Le Flaubert: French bistro. (Orrego Luco 125; 02 515 4908)
Infante 51: Grilled or sautéed fish such as breca, cojinova austral, and kana-kana. Tranquil patio; no English spoken; check the bill carefully. (Infante 51; 02 264 3357)
El Hurtado: Creative vegetarian dishes. (Orrego Lugo 54; 02 755 1460)
Liguria: Chilean standards and a lively bar scene. (Pedro de Valdivia 048; 02 334 4346)
Baco: Handsome bistro and wine bar. (Nueva de Lyon 113; 02 231 4444)
KM.0: Hip restaurant located in the W Hotel. (Isidora Goyenechea 3000; 02 245 7077)
Mestizo: Expansive open-sided shelter supported by massive rocks on the edge of the Bicentennial Park; exemplary Chilean cuisine. (Av Bicentario 4050; 09 7477 6093)
Opera: Sybaritic French menu in upscale setting. (Merced 395; 02 664 3048)
See & Do
Mercado Central: An ornate marketplace with raffish fish restaurants.
Museo de la Moda: A modernist mansion in Vitacura, where you can explore a fabulous couture collection and lunch at the chic El Garage cafe.
La Moneda Arts Centre: a lofty space for art exhibits and cultural events, located beneath the presidential palace.
Providencia: A bohemian neighborhood that straddles the river (a mere trickle in February); it feels like a village and makes an ideal base. Street-life is vibrant–sidewalk cafes and restaurants are thronged. Cheap taxis are abundant and the subway provides a fast link to downtown.
Museum of Memory: A museum which commemorates the victims of Pinochet’s brutality and the heroic resistance to his rule.
Matucana 100: An adventurous cultural center.
Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center: A must for lovers of music and dance is this heroically scaled block, soon to be joined by a new opera house.
FINAL TIP: For a comfortable, reliable trip to the airport call Taxi Officiel (02 601 9880), which offers town cars at a flat rate of $28 from the central city.
Click here to read the full story about Michael’s trip from Santiago to provincial villages on the fringes of the Atacama desert.
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