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Hotel Magnolia

Regina Winkle-Bryan • March 20, 2017

Photos: Hotel Magnolia

Located in the center of Santiago in the fashionable Barrio Lastarria, the building housing the Hotel Magnolia was first commissioned almost a century ago as a family home for Ana Zegers García Huidobro, the daughter of a Chilean politician. She asked her nephew, Eduardo Costabal Zegers, to build the grand neo-Gothic residence. It was later sold and repurposed for apartments and offices, and eventually landed in the hands of current owners, the Villanueva family, who decided to renovate and restore the building to its original 1930s splendor.

Architect Cazú Zegers of Santiago-based Cazu Zegers Arquitectura y Diseño—who also happens to be a distant relative of García Huidobro—partnered with interior designer Carolina Delpiano to transform the 42-room hotel and communal spaces into a laidback yet modern hotel in South America.

Zegers’ main challenge in the hotel’s revival was blending the old with the new. “I left the original house intact, and only took down walls to create circulation and bring more coherence to the space. The house is a historically listed property, so an exhaustive list was made of what we found, and whatever was in need of repair—like the windows and the gargoyles—was restored,” the architect explains.

When refreshing the area’s grand marble staircase, Zegers meshed contemporary with antique. To signal eyes upward from the black and white marble floor, she added a black, angular light installation for a modern touch. She also suspended dewdrop-shaped glass lamps in the hotel’s restaurant in mineral tones above marble tables and beechwood chairs. Large mirrors, treated to appear tarnished, cover most of the walls and inject even more light into the sunny eatery. Carrara marble slabs—popular in the 1930s—create an 11-seat long bar, accented by skinny black lights dangling overhead.

Delpiano mimicked the black and white checked tiles of the ground floor with patterned rugs in the guestrooms. The bold carpeting provides disruption from the gray and white tones and blonde eucalyptus wood paneling. “We used wood to make the rooms feel like attic-lofts,” Zegers explains.

Sumptuous beds are piled with crisp white duvets and ash-hued throws. Whimsical wooden headboards rendered by artist Claudio Gay depict Chilean national treasures, including the Andes, Loica birds, and the profile of the Chilean poet Andrés Bello. Bathrooms are tiled in unpolished travertine marble sourced from local quarries in contrast to coal-black sinks made by local ceramics artist Lise Moller.

The upper levels of the hotel, which were added by Zegers during the renovation, are as impressive as they are stunning: the glass panels containing the three new stories exude a mirroring effect with printed images of the hotel’s façade. “It occurred to me to take a photograph of the building and invert it on the glass, and in this way address resonance through the materials,” she says. “I wanted to say that we are a product of our histories.”