The Gran Hotel Casino Carrasco in Montevideo is known today as the Sofitel Montevideo. Once, the destination of choice for Argentine and Uruguayan aristocrats, the emblematic hotel has made a strong comeback. Nestled on the banks of the mighty La Plata River, in one of the city’s most exclusive neighborhoods, the hotel captures the essence and art of French living.
In the past, the vast halls of the grand hotel witnessed diplomatic receptions, carnival galas, and extravagant summer soirees. Guests streamed in from every corner of the world, enjoying live entertainment from the likes of the famous Lecuona Cuban Boys Afro-Cuban Orchestra and Juan D’Arienzo’s renowned tango band. The balcony terrace was the perfect vantage point to spot horses running along the beach. Famous personalities such as Albert Einstein and Federico García Lorca were frequent guests.
A century later, the giant returns. Now under the Sofitel seal, the hotel is inspiring new visitors and has transformed the riverfront in the cosmopolitan capital of Uruguay.
The extensive renovations were led by Agustina Esperón. She is best known for her restoration of historic buildings, most notably the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Teamed with a talented group of experts, Esperón renovated the property while preserving the history and integrity of the structure, which was originally designed by French architect Gaston Mallet in 1921. It took the team 400 days to capture the essence of the original building, paying special attention to the intricate façade and the stunning piano nobile.
Along the course of those 400 days, the team made an unexpected discovery. The building housed hidden treasures in its walls: stucco work, tempera paintings and sheets of 18K and 22K gold. This discovery, made with the help of fine-toothed brushes and scalpels, redefined the entire interior aesthetic. What was meant to be an eminently modern space was suddenly transformed into the juxtaposition of memorable contrasts that we see today. Original stained glass windows crown the most impressive spaces on the main floor, both in the lounge and in Thays Bar, creating the illusion of a colorful sky. The gardens are adorned with three unique sculptures: The Watch, The Thorn, and The Harvest, each delivered from Europe over one hundred years ago.
French cuisine, infused with fresh, local ingredients, shapes the menu at Restaurant 1921, named to honor the year the original building was founded. French chef William Porte maintains the essence of the flavors in traditional dishes from both French and Uruguayan cuisine. We have to recommend you heed the advice of Federico Moura—the Best Sommelier in Uruguay—who will help you choose the perfect wines to pair with the rich flavors of the chef’s creations.
The cutting-edge casino stands out amidst the rest of the amenities. It has over 400 slot machines that sit atop lush patterned carpets. Gold and red tables invite guests to try their hand at poker, blackjack, baccarat, and roulette. For the most daring, the hotel offers a private room for high rollers to place their highest bets.
Guests who prefer relaxation over risk will find their home at the hotel’s spa. Behind the doors of the So Spa, they will find an unparalleled atmosphere of harmony and tranquility. In addition to the usual treatments, So offers an exclusive range of Uruguayan based natural products made of yerba mate, Tannat wine or amethyst, a microcrystalline variety of violet quartz.
The pleasure of the Hamman—a Moroccan wet sauna, and the only one in the area—is complemented by an exfoliating black soap treatment. Each treatment at the So Spa provides a unique sensory experience that uplifts both body and soul.
As the sun dips into the sea, guests will discover a private view of paradise, from the grand terraces, which ignites all the senses. ■