After a few months on the go travelling through Brazil and Argentina we were looking for a certain place to relax, eat well and to enjoy the outdoors over the holidays. Casa Zinc was the chosen destination. A charming and hip hotel situated in La Barra, Uruguay, just down the road from the glitzy and bustling Punta del Este.
On arriving at the property you are immediately struck by the unique design of the building commanding a quiet and sunny spot off the main street. Hotel owner Aaron Hojman is an interesting person, if you catch him one evening at the hotel, take the opportunity to sit down and have a chat about the hotel and his inspiration. He also owns a shop – Trading Post, on La Barra’s main street where he displays his favourite finds from his travels around the world including antique and vintage pieces and furniture. Nearby Casa Zinc gives customers and guests a real insight in to Aaron’s skills in interior design and architecture. The six bedroom hotel is only seven years old, however could easily be a hundred years old but with chic interiors. Reclaimed materials have been used in the construction of the property, from the outside you’ll notice no window is the same and the brickwork has been carefully sourced and constructed in a way to give the property an industrial yet trendy and authentic look.
Inside the rooms are full of vintage travel books, maps, globes, modern and vintage paintings, reclaimed furniture and exotic trinkets from Aaron’s travels. Each bedroom is different and boasts large, comfortable beds, wardrobes, desks all in a vintage, clean and airy style. There is a school/educational theme to some of the rooms, where each has a pencil, rubber and sharpener set to keep, a little reminder of the unique elements this hotel holds. The hotel has a relaxing and chilled ambience, which is evident through the style and service; guests are invited to take their breakfast at anytime from the morning until 4pm.
Activities in the area:
For the active traveller the hotel has contacts with the local surf school and various yoga teachers in the area, and will happily arrange a lesson for guests. Bagus Surf School is situated on Playa la Posta Del Cangrejo in La Barra, approximately a 30-minute walk or a 10-minute cycle on the hotel’s complimentary bikes. The friendly owner Martina Lorenti has been running surf lessons from La Barra for 18 years and therefore is definitely the right person to give tips and advice on the area for surfing. She has a fantastic team of instructors behind her, who are available to take group lessons or individual classes throughout the year. If a beginner and travelling during peak season do not be put off by the large amounts of children taking lessons (my husband wasn’t keen to join the young crowd but in the end had an amazing time!), this is the best beach to learn on with easy waves to ride. Instructor Luciano is so good he will definitely get you standing up first time, if he managed to get me up he must be good. For the pro surfers, Martina or one of the instructors will happily give you tips on where to surf for larger waves and how the weather is looking for next few days. Bagus Surf School is open all year round, during the summer Martina can be found on the beach and in the winter you can call or email her to make a booking. Martina Lorenti 099 26 29 43 or [email protected]
For yoga Casa Zinc recommends Isabella Channing from The Shack Yoga and Espacio Samsara, both studios are easily accessible from the hotel. Espacio Samsara offers intermediate classes in Spanish and The Shack Yoga in English and can cater to all levels.
At the end of the road from Casa Zinc paddle boarding is available, a great way to start the day. Paddle boarding is a favourite activity of ours and it was nice to practice it in slightly more exotic surroundings, instead of on the River Thames back in London. In La Barra the paddle boarding takes place in a sheltered lagoon next to the iconic ‘wobbly bridges’, but don’t drift too far under the bridges…
La Barra is well catered to the trendy and fashionable crowds who flock here from Argentina and Brazil during the Christmas holidays. Although a small town it can become quite crowded during peak season, it’s therefore easier to travel by bike or foot rather than car. The main street that runs parallel to the beach offers plenty of culinary choices, a firm favourite of ours is Mi Sushi for a healthy lunch, try the amazing Salmon Skin Sushi, it also boasts it’s own bar serving delicious and fresh juices to have in or take away, ideally located in close proximity to the beach, so a fresh green juice can be enjoyed with the waves lapping at your feet.
By Air – Fly to Punta del Este (30km away) or Uruguay’s capital Montevideo (145km away)
From the Airport
A taxi will cost around US$30-40 from Punta del Este
words by Claire Mans