The W Santiago is a mix of hotel and residences in a modern office like building of glass with shops on the ground floor facing the street. It is across the street from the El Golf metro station and the streets are lined with restaurants and takeaway shops. There is a Starbucks a block away if you need your fix. There are also, sadly, a few U.S. chain restaurants near the Starbucks. The hotel entrance is in the back and when my taxi pulled up, I was warmly greeted by two bell staff. I was escorted by one past the concierge desk which is separate on the ground floor lobby, to the elevators to the 4th floor reception area to check in. As it was Easter Sunday, the hotel had been full the night before so despite my gold status, an early check in was not possible as the room was not ready.
As it was nearly 1pm and I had a long journey so this is the part of the story where all you want to do is crawl into a corner and sleep but you push through the no-shower wrinkled look without a hint of makeup left to kill time until the room is ready. This of course means you find the nearest restaurant for food and drink. In my case, the only option was the terrace as the main restaurants in the hotel were closed for the holiday as were the options outside the hotel.
Note: If you don’t care about hotels details, best to stop reading now and come back tomorrow as the journey continues. As a hotel girl, I enjoy all the features of the room and explain below in more detail than most.
Hotel Common Area
The 4th floor common area was quite expansive and pretty impressive. As someone who loves hotels, the lobby/lounge/restaurant space was probably one of the best configurations of a common area I’ve seen in a while – it was spacious yet intimate in each of the areas/nooks. Some of the tables had games to invite guests.
I wandered to the next bank of elevators (there were three separate elevators areas) and rode to the top of the building to the rooftop. Upon exiting you can see the pool, high top tables, plush seating areas and another level of seating. This was definitely the W vibe that I’m used to in the US – it gets very crowded here at night (i revisited the next night and it was packed for a Monday, i wasn’t able to get a table to eat/drink so resigned myself to a quick walk around, look at the city lights before descending back to the 4th floor).
Back on the 4th floor, there was a shop (of course, closed today) and i walked to the terrace part of the restaurant. The decor was a mix of woods and contemporary modern lines which i liked. With a view of the nearby apartment buildings and the playground, i sat facing out and could feel a nice breeze. Having just landed, i figured best to stay safe with food as i wanted to sleep soon and ordered a simple ham/cheese sandwich. This was the only bad meal of my stay with iffy inattentive service (the holiday staff i guess?).
The Standard Room
After lunch and using the free common area wi-fi, i was able to check in. I chose the free wi-fi as the gold amenity. The room was much larger than the W’s in the U.S. that I’ve stayed in (dare i say 3x-4x’s the W NY or just perception) and reminded me of the W Istanbul (also a newer property). Walking into the room, there is a landing area on the right , a large desk/tv area and a separate chaise with table next to the bed on the left.
What you will immediately notice is the glass enclosed shower that looks into the bedroom -if you didn’t know your roommate before you left, you will now. The glass gives the room a bigger feel so i get what they wanted to do – it took a bit getting used to. Two annoying items – the desk lamp was testing my intellect as i couldn’t figure out how to turn it on and then there was a warped minibar cabinet that stuck out a bit so when i walked into the room the lines were off. I gave the front desk a note for engineering to fix that in case there is another crazy lady staying there like me.
The bathroom was a nice size with a separate water closet. The shower was a walk in with no door which reminded me of the Le Parker Meridian in NYC. The toiletries were standard Bliss products, which are always a welcome sight. There was a cork stool that the towels were placed on – while i understood the decorative feature and function, the towels smelled weird so i moved them each day off the stool and they were better (maybe its just my quirk). The lighting in the bathroom was dark so ladies, i suggest using the mirror in the room by the window for better natural light.
Housekeeping was uneven during my stay – one day a washcloth, the next day none. They cleared around my items (a first) and did not arrange them in the bathroom as most do. They offer an evening turn down service which was more consistent in timing. I declined turn down service but said yes to the chocolates (of course) which were quite tasty with a hint of orange.
The day of arrival, only the terrace was open for Easter. Having had the poor lunch experience, I opted for room service that night. The food was good, delivered quickly, however, the presentation was lacking. One delivery was basically a cart with condiments and silverware on top, my food left underneath in the hot box. The second delivery arrived on a very beat up tray that had seen better days -it was not expected. Neither delivery had flowers or anything that set it apart to make it special.
The restaurant staff, with the exception of the terrace lunch, was excellent during my stay both at breakfast and dinner. I traveled on my own and attempted poor Spanish but was always able to find someone to help or understand me (not all staff speak English). I ate the breakfast buffet twice -each day the selections were fabulous – there was a chef making hot options, a table of breads and pastries, an area of fruits, cereals, yogurts and a table of small batch pots of breakfast foods which were kept fresh and hot. I was a huge fan of the chocolate croissants and the celebrity sighting of Richard Branson (a travel rockstar moment!).
If you wanted to go elsewhere, the café is easily accessible – go outside the hotel, make three lefts and down the stairs to the lower level of the building. I did this one morning and the meal was fine, however, once you add up the ala carte items, i felt the hotel buffet offered a better value and selection in my opinion (its still expensive just like any hotel breakfast).
One of my best meals (ever) was at dinner. Starting with a glass of carmenere, the waiter brought a complimentary amuse bouche. I ordered the simple braised pork entree (one of the lower priced options on the menu) over mashed sweet potatoes – it was a massive portion that came with a side of potatoes (yes, more potatoes but white) and bok choy. The flavors were so addictive that i knew i should stop eating because i wanted to try the dessert but it was hard to do. Thank goodness there are no calories on vacation.
A chocolate sampler dessert screams my name so despite being full, i tried to do what my friend does “eat fast before my stomach knows its already full”. The six different chocolate items begged me to eat slowly though to savor and enjoy.
Prior to my trip, I contacted the concierge who sent me detailed information, by email, of recommended restaurants and tour providers to research. Onsite, the concierge was disappointing due to conflicting advice. For example, a car to the airport was quoted at $70, the front desk said $40. When asking about restaurants, they offered options not on their information sheet, in fact, they discouraged me from one restaurant that the list highly rated.
A pleasant stay and one of my top W’s so far. I would go back as I felt very comfortable in the hotel, friendly reception staff (I asked a lot of questions and they were very helpful) and the neighborhood. The restaurant breakfast buffet is worth the extra cost (can’t promise a rock star sighting but the chocolate croissants are worth the visit) and the dinner was excellent if you do stay on property. It is a lovely property that has everything I would need (except a decent ham/cheese sandwich).