Eleanor Barker checks into La Casona in the Matetic Vineyards, Santiago.
: The picturesque Matetic Vineyards is in the Rosario Valley, straddling the San Antonio and Casablanca valleys. It's about an hour and 20 minutes from Santiago and 55 minutes from Valparaiso, making it the perfect stop-off between the two.
Check-in experience: When we pulled off the road and saw La Casona for the first time, it was a moment of pure delight. The yellow and terracotta-tile villa is set around a riot of sweet wisteria and other floral displays, blown by coastal winds and flanked by vines. The staff speak excellent English and provide great service.
Room: La Casona is a classical Chilean colonial home with 10 ample suite rooms with views of the grapes and gardens. Each room has beautiful botanical art, wooden furniture, high ceilings and an immense tiled bathroom. The bed was one of the most comfortable I have had.
Price: Rooms start at NZ$800 and breakfast and dinner is included.
What's in the neighbourhood? We didn't venture far beyond the vineyards, and you don't need to. We took a walking tour where we learned about the Matetic biodynamic and sustainable vision and drank incredible wines. There are horse and bicycle tours through and beyond the property and tempting sun loungers by the pool. The gardens are ideal for an afternoon stroll and each room has a private patio area where you can sit and enjoy the gardens. There is also a common living room with honesty bar and pool table.
Food and drink: The restaurant, Equilibrio, is open from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and it was one of the food highlights of our South American trip. Fine food, great atmosphere, excellent service — and not too expensive. It looks out to the park and a small lagoon, with fish and geese to entertain the kids.
The bottom line: It is the perfect rest stop on your South American adventure.