Dubbed the Jewel of the Pacific during its heyday, the Chilean port city of Valparáiso fell on hard times during the second half of the last century – before being rescued from obscurity, earning UNESCO World Heritage Status and becoming the de facto cultural capital of Chile. Quite a comeback.
The same may be said of the Palacio Astoreca, a 1920s Victorian colonial mansion whose rebirth mirrors that of the city at large. The recent beneficiary of a $5million top-to-toe renovation, it is a building – now a hotel – which not only symbolizes the heritage movement as a whole but also stands alone as a great example of a sympathetically restored period structure.
Architect Mathias Klotz opted for clean lines and open spaces at the hotel, and while there is a modern feel, he undertook careful restoration of some of the period features, such as the salon wood panelling and the parquet flooring. All through, the building there is a pleasing blend of old and new – just look at the contemporary bathroom in which sits an antique chair. The exterior of the building is just as impressive, all bay windows and turrets, dressed in that lovely terracotta that glows in the light of the setting sun. A gem.