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Welcome to our Hotel Tip of The Week series. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way. For all the dingy, disappointing budget digs, there are as many budget accommodation gems. We post one hotel tip of the week, every week, of places we feel confident recommending after having tried and tested them ourselves.
Atop Valparaiso’s Cerro Alegre hill on Avenida Alemania (Germany Avenue), sits Casa Kreyenberg, run by Chilean husband and wife duo Juan Pablo and Lucia.
Lucia’s grandfather inherited the house from his close German friend Herr Kreyenberg, who had the house built in the early 20th century. They first started renting out rooms here roughly six years ago, first to local boarders until they found more success with a sign they hung outside to attract travelers.
Now it is an award-winning hostel that feels like staying at a German grandmother’s house. Everything here seems totally original, from antique radios and ceramic spice jars to the dining room wallpaper and bone-handle knives we use each morning to spread large pats of butter on rolls at breakfast. Included in the price, breakfast is a familiar affair, with all guests sitting around the wooden dining room table and talking travel over fresh fruit salad, cheese and ham, rolls, butter, marmalade, tea and coffee.
Normally it might be hard for us to make conversation so early in the morning, but in this house, we really get to know many of the other guests. Several mean to stay two nights end up staying a week – even we extended from five to seven nights. Plus, people tend to gather on the terrace in the evenings with Juan Pablo and Lucia, who are always happy to sit down and have a glass of wine and a chat with the lights of Valparaiso’s hills twinkling below.
The beauty of Valparaiso appears everywhere you look. We are in a double room with amazing views of the port and the colorful houses on the hills out of the window as well as from the small balcony we share with the triple room next door. The dorm room, which has six beds, and the double private room downstairs also both have great views. The walls of every room are decorated with Lucia’s paintings. She is an incredibly talented artist and the house is her own private gallery.
Our room is perfectly equipped with a comfortable big bed, with bedside tables and lamps, antique wardrobe and dresser and wooden floors that thankfully do not creak one bit. The room is spotless and spacious, and though it doesn’t have an en-suite bathroom (none of the rooms do) we could easily have rented this livable room for a much longer stay. We sleep soundly, as one of the benefits of being this high up the hill is the lack of traffic at night, though buses do run right from outside the house down and into the center of town throughout the day.
There are two bathrooms upstairs and one downstairs that felt clean and always well equipped with toilet paper and soap. I find this remarkable because if I noticed one thing about the guests here at Casa Kreyenberg – they linger. They hang out. Not just at night, but all day long guests sit outside on the terrace, or in the living room on the couch. With full use of the kitchen after 1pm, it’s easy to cook up a meal or make tea and you genuinely feel at home and welcome here to just rest, relax and take in Valparaiso.
Stand Out Feature: The views from the terrace
I’ve already said it, but it is worth emphasizing. I doubt there are many hotels in this price range with such perfect views out over the city, the port, the naval ships in the water, the colorful houses lining the hills. Sitting on the bed writing this, I am constantly distracted watching the sun glisten off the water out in the Pacific below. Even if you have a bed in the dorm you can sit out on the terrace and take in the sunrise, sunsets and glimmering lights in the dark – the views here are incredible 24 hours a day. If you will be in Chile in December, book a room at Casa Kreyenberg for seriously perfect views of one of the most spectacular New Year’s fireworks displays in all of South America!
Stand Out Feature: The owners – Juan Pablo and Lucia
Lucia and Juan Pablo are some of the friendliest hoteliers in the business. On Sunday night they organized an impromptu ‘asado’, a typical Chilean barbecue. All the guests ate together and got to know each other that way. The two of them are gracious hosts, going above and beyond with travel advice and any other assistance you might need.
Room for Improvement: A bit of renovation would go a long way
While the original fixtures and furnishings are part of the charm, renovating a few elements could give Casa Kreyenberg a pleasant facelift. Shower heads in both bathrooms could be upgraded, for example, and dishes, cutlery and pots and pans in the kitchen could use an upgrade. None of these things detract from the hostel’s charm; instead it would just take the guest experience to the next level.
A quick glance through the TripAdvisor reviews will show you we are not alone in our love of Casa Kreyenberg, but staying here has made us nervous – as we have read more than one reviewer call this the best place they stayed in all of South America. This is our first stop of many, many more budget accommodation stops to come, and we think we may have already stayed at the best!
Location: Avenida Alemania 4626, Cerro Alegre, Valparaiso (In Google maps there is an error – if you search for Casa Kreyenberg the address is correct, but if you look it up using the address, the location comes up wrong. Don’t get lost!)
Price: Single room CLP16,000 (US$32), double rooms CLP23,000 (US$46), triple room CLP34,500 (US$69), dorm beds CLP7,900 (US$16)
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes!
Amenities: Complimentary breakfast, free wi-fi, kitchen use from 1pm till 9pm, terrace with sun chairs
Website: www.casakreyenberg.cl You can also find Casa Kreyenberg on Facebook and Twitter.