Uruguay is not usually at the top of travellers’ wish lists but with relatively few visitors, some surprisingly stylish accommodation options and excellent wild beaches that knock the socks off their Argentinian equivalent, it offers a slice of South America to suit most palates. It’s also fantastic for birders and wine lovers, not to mention one of the safest places in the Americas. So whatever takes your fancy hurry to Uruguay before one of South America’s best kept secrets explodes. I was lucky enough to revisit the country recently, and was blown away by some of the new luxury accommodation on offer:
Sofitel Carrasco, Montevideo
A glorious building with wonderfully lofty ceilings and a grandiose French elegance, the Sofitel Carrasco sits right on the seafront. It’s reminiscent of turn of the 20th century Montevideo, and eating breakfast in the main restaurant adorned with monumental chandeliers and stained glass feels very special.
The staff here are also incredibly friendly and though it’s a 20 minute ride from the middle of town with its museums and excellent restaurants, it’s worth it for the tranquillity and quality of experience.
Charco, Colonia del Sacramento
Tiny but perfectly formed, a little like Uruguay itself, Charco wows its visitors. This is boutique accommodation at its best: small and intimate, where you want for nothing. Situated right in the heart of the cobbled streets of old Colonia the property still manages to be fresh and modern. It oozes sophistication without being at all stuffy. This is an absolute gem and is streaks ahead of other lodgings in the town.
Don’t miss sipping a cocktail and looking out over the Rio de la Plata at the Buenos Aires’ skyline in the distance as the sun goes down.
Finca Narbona, Carmelo
For those in search of Uruguay’s undiscovered yet decidedly impressive wines, look no further than Finca Narbona. Aside from the winery producing some of South America’s finest vinos, the neighbouring hotel is reminiscent of southern European bodegas coupled with undeniable South America charm. They have six stylish and tastefully designed rooms overlooking the vineyards and a glorious restaurant. It’s recently obtained Relais and Chateaux status but still remains somewhat of a secret outside of Uruguay.
The understated and exclusive nature, combined with some of the best wines I’ve tasted in South America, gives Finca Narbona and Carmelo the edge over some of South America’s more famous wine producing nations.
Estancia Vik, José Ignacio
You may have read great write-ups about this stunning property in terms of its surroundings and design features, but to actually stay here is something else. It’s proud of its traditional heritage and you can expect a wonderful ride on a beautiful horse with a gaucho in the morning, indulge in an asado (BBQ) at lunch time before relaxing by the pool in the afternoon. Moreover the service is superb and cunningly elevates your stay to an experience. Suites are vast and striking, and with no detail overlooked it’s unlikely you’ll want to leave.
Bahia Vik, José Ignacio
The newest Jose Ignacio property from the stylish Vik team, Bahia Vik is tucked away behind the sand dunes just outside the village. A little more family friendly than the beautiful Playa Vik which lies in the village itself, Bahia Vik has the same impeccable attention-to-detail, modern styling and wonderful food and wines.
The beach and Atlantic Ocean are a mere 20 metres away from the swimming pools and there is ample lounging space with views to both. Jose Ignacio itself is a sleepy little place (apart from the party weeks of Christmas and New Year), with just a few streets criss-crossing a peninsula, a lighthouse at its tip and some world-class restaurants. No wonder it is a favourite haunt of the Latin American A-list!
Craig Burkinshaw is a Founder Director of Audley Travel.
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