Staying at WineBox Hotel – the Coolest Place to Stay in Valparaiso, Chile
As soon as I saw a picture of the WineBox Hotel, I knew I had to stay there.
I had done a Google Image search of Valparaiso to get some idea of what to expect during my visit to the seaside city in Chile. First thing you’ll notice about the results if you do such a search yourself is how colourful it all looks. There is an abundance of street art and house after house painted in joyful, bright colours that will bring a smile to your face and your camera to your eye. But one image stood out in the colourful crowd. I clicked it to see more. “Whoa. What is that place?”
‘That place’ was WineBox Hotel, perched in the hills of Valparaiso – a hotel made out of repurposed shipping containers, stacked on top of each other like a child’s lego project, and painted in the boldest greens, purples, and teals.
It was the coolest looking hotel I’d ever seen.
Am I shallow for choosing a hotel on looks alone? Maybe, but I also don’t care. WineBox Hotel is more than just good looks as I was happy to find out. They are also an urban winery and care deeply about sustainability and their local community.
Wine. Street art. Gorgeous views and a quirky aesthetic. This place just spoke to me on a deep level.
They’re the first hotel in all of South America to be built from recycled containers and they’re the only hotel in Valparaiso where every single room has a great view of the ocean. Everything that could be recycled to create WineBox Hotel was. Wine bottles as lamps, shipping container doors as tables, pallet wood everywhere, and even truck wheels as BBQ grills. They approximate that 70% of the materials needed to create the hotel were recycled.
They take recycling seriously here, almost as seriously as they take their wine.
Be prepared that if you show up to check-in with an orange souvenir box containing a bottle of wine from Concha y Toro they will poke fun at you. All good-natured ribbing. We kind of deserved it when there is so much interesting small-scale stuff happening in the country.
I highly recommend that you schedule an evening to take part in their rooftop wine tasting session. Not only will you get to sample some really unique varietals and blends, and have hotel owner and winemaker Grant entertain you with his winemaking stories while schooling you on local wines, but you’ll get a chance to socialize with other hotel guests. It was one of my favourite evenings of my whole trip. Can’t recommend it enough.
Ask Grant about the ‘shed wine’ from the Itata Valley, the rose masking as a red, or about his friend who couldn’t be bothered to separate his grape varietals, horrifying most winemakers but ending up with an interesting result. The stories are endless.
Want something even cooler? If you book a stay during the grape harvest season (April to mid-June) you can help with the winemaking process. Yes, you can climb right into a trough of grapes and stomp and mush them to help create the mash, the first step in making wine. The entire winemaking process is done right on site and you can sample the fruits of previous guests’ labour at the rooftop bar.
If you’re into a hotel made from shipping containers, you’re going to love the rooftop patio. It’s filled with couches made from bathtubs, chairs made from metal wine barrels, and coffee tables made from pallet wood. Strings of edison bulbs cross back and forth overhead and the brightly painted metal chairs and barstools match the multi-coloured stained recycled wood tables. It all makes for a great place to hang out, day or night.
Breakfast is included in your stay and is served on the rooftop patio each morning. You have your choice of eggs, toast, grilled tomatoes, yogurt, and a lot of fruit. The spread carries on with the wine theme by including red wine bread for your avocado toast.
They love their street art at WineBox Hotel too. Murals abound. From the garage doors and ground-level walls to common areas and inside rooms. Our room had a mural by local artist Anis. We saw even more of her work out in the wild during the street art walking tour we took. The hotel owners understand how important it is to support local art since income is never assured in that field. Not only did they commission artists to add art to the walls of WineBox but they also have plans to start a gallery to show and sell local art.
Each room of the hotel is named after a different grape varietal in yet another example of how fully they’ve embraced the wine theme. They’ve also done away with plastic room key cards and instead set you up with their fingerprint scanner door entry. No fumbling with easily lost cards or keys, no remembering passcodes. I loved it and felt like a secret agent every time I wanted to enter my room.
I stayed in one of the Superior rooms on the 3rd floor (there are no elevators so you’ll need to carry your luggage up the stairs). The room felt larger and brighter than you might think a shipping container would. There was a beautiful compact bathroom with shower, a double bed, sofa, table/desk and chair, a galley style kitchen, and a pair of chairs on the private balcony. Everything we needed without feeling crowded or cramped.
You’ll also find a selection of wine in your room available for purchase. It was so very tempting the two nights we stayed to crack one open. We did end up buying a bottle of Escandalo – a red Carignan from the Colchagua Valley – to share on the rooftop the night after our wine tasting. I only wish I could buy more at my local liquor store. Just another reason to return to WineBox someday I suppose.
Secure parking is included with all rooms, except standard rooms, but you’re going to want to have a smaller car. The hotel is on a sharp bend in the narrow road so someone from the hotel will stop traffic and guide you into their underground lot. Space is tight but it was so nice to not have to worry about our car when we were in town. Everything we wanted to see and do was easily walkable from the hotel. Just another thing I loved about it.
It might have been the unique aesthetic that first drew me to WineBox Hotel but it was the friendly owners, their commitment to recycling, and their support of their local community that really made me love it. A few great stories over glasses of wine didn’t hurt either.
- Who: WineBox Hotel
- Where: Cerro Mariposa, Baquedano 763, Valparaiso, Chile
- Cost: from $113 for a Standard room
- Number of Rooms: 21
- Rating: TripAdvisor 4.5*
- Check Availability
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