Doubles start at $199, including breakfast.
Originally the site of a walled Spanish settlement, the historic quarter of Montevideo is a mix of 19th- and early-20th-century palaces, some now dilapidated and filled with squatters, others restored as museums, restaurants or banks. In the midst of these, the Alma Historica Boutique Hotel, which opened last winter, rescued a 1920-vintage treasure on central Plaza Zabala, offering an antiques-filled haven that bridges historic charm and modern efficiency. Fifteen rooms now reside in the former mansion, capped by a two-story addition where suites include private terraces and the rooftop hosts a patio with panoramic views of the city. Public spaces best capture its retro aesthetic, including historical photos and antique toys on guest room floors and in the grand second-floor library.
In historic downtown Montevideo, Alma offers a pedestrian-friendly locale for exploring the old port. Green parrots roost in the palm trees of the square, a half-block from the vendor-lined walking street Sarandi and five blocks from the Port Market, filled with grill-focused restaurants known as parrillas.
When I asked for a room for a family of three, albeit off-season, the hotel proposed a suite at the rate of a standard double. Each room is named after a Uruguayan poet, songwriter, artist or soccer player. Ours, the Joaquín Torres Garcia Suite, featured books and prints of the eponymous artist throughout its two rooms, including a sitting room with a red sleeper sofa and antique writing desk. Unfussy décor, blond wood floors, generous dimensions, awning windows that opened onto the plaza and a wall of closets with mirrored doors gave the impression of room to breathe, or at least accommodate our many suitcases without creating excessive tripping hazards.
Antique touches are everywhere in the hotel except, fortunately, the bathroom, a modern chamber with polished concrete floors and counters. Showers feature fixed glass splash guards and two shower heads, one hand-held and the other deluge-like. Bathrooms include bidets.
While the hotel lacks a restaurant, its breakfast room serves up a helping of vintage charm along with assorted sweet rolls, yogurt, cereals and fruit arrayed buffet-style on a marble-topped sideboard with dulce de leche spread, a national obsession, on the tables. Nine small salvaged chandeliers illuminate tables set in mismatched period china. A back wall of glass offers views to a two-story vertical garden with potted plants affixed to the wall. Outside of breakfast hours, the hotel stocks a cocktail cart in the breakfast room as a bar for guests.
Though small, the fifth-floor rooftop patio proved to be the quarter’s best perch at sunset for views over Montevideo’s working port. It’s large enough to accommodate a glass patio table and chairs, two chaise longues and a Jacuzzi, as well as a bathroom. The second-floor library, complete with tufted furniture, writing desks, books to borrow and a large-screen TV, is reached via a sweeping marble staircase and offers more refined social space indoors. Wi-Fi is free and fast.
For travelers who want to spend time in Montevideo’s most atmospheric and attraction-filled quarter, the townhouse-like Alma has few rivals in style, balancing contemporary comforts with vintage flair.