Sweet Retreats: Finding a Vacation Rental in Uruguay
Author: Lisa Marie Mercer
In my article titled Taking the Why Out of Uruguay, I mentioned that its citizens were one of the major
reasons to visit. Staying at a vacation rental or a small bed and breakfast provides an ideal way to get to
know them. Sure, Uruguay has an ample number of hotels, and thankfully, most are not of the "big
box" variety, but staying at a hotel deprives you of the sense of community that prevails in Uruguayan
I discovered this on my first day in Atlantida, the coastal Uruguayan town where I now live. The
Spanish school where I was taking lessons had arranged a two month rental in an a complex called Isla
Negra. We entered the little cottage, which Uruguayans call "casitas," and went about the usual
business of making sure that the home was suitable for occupancy.
All was well, until we came to the task of lighting the pilot light on the gas stove. Apparently, the
matches that the real estate agent had brought along were damp, and not up to the task. When the
neighbors heard what was going on, it became a community project, with everyone bringing dry
matches to help us out.
The fact that we were from "Estados Unidos" made it even more exciting. Uruguay does not have any
outward hostilities against the US. In fact, they enjoy helping people learn their language, and made
sure to engage us in language every day. Of course, if you were at a hotel and something wasn't
working, you would call the front desk and the desk would call maintenance, but somehow that doesn't
feel the same.
Vacation Rental Perks
Vacation rentals trump hotels rooms for a variety of reasons. Some you might not have thought of, and
others are specific to Uruguay. Here are just a few of them:
Cost Factors: This is particularly apropos to anyone traveling with larger groups. Let's say you have
four people in your party. You will probably need two hotel rooms, which is usually more expensive
than a night in a vacation rental.
Your own full kitchen: Not a hotel microwave and mini -fridge, but an honest to goodness full
kitchen. This will save you an enormous amount of money on eating out, but that's not all. Every
Uruguayan town has a weekly feria, or outdoor market, where you can purchase fresh vegetables at a
ridiculously low price and prepare them at home.
The Parilla: Almost every Uruguayan home has a parrilla or outdoor grill in their backyard. The parilla
is the secret to the delicious grilled beef, chicken and vegetable meals that put Uruguay on the map as a
tourist destination. Now you can enjoy these culinary delights in your own backyard!
Who Rents Their Home in Uruguay?
Some Uruguayans live in their homes for most of the year, then rent it out during the high season,
which usually begins around December and ends in March. High Season makes a comeback during
Easter week, which Uruguayans call Semana Santa or Tourist week.
Other Uruguayans only use their homes during the off-season, which runs from April through
November. While this is not beach weather, Uruguay's relatively temperate climate makes it tolerable
throughout the year. Keep in mind, it never snows in Uruguay, so unlike South American countries
such as Chile and Argentina, Uruguay is not a summer skiing destination. On the other hand, the lack
of snow makes the colder season more comfortable, and the low rental rates during off-season bring an
additional source of comfort.
Types of Rentals
A lack of architectural uniformity characterizes all of Uruuguay. From quaint and cozy beach cottage ,
to high-rise buildings with views of the sea, to elegant manor houses, to classic English homes with
thatched roofs, Uruguay has it all. Some architects have a defined sense of the whimsical. Expect to see
some unusual designs, but Uruguayan homes are rarely ugly or boring.
The Bed and BreakfastOption
If you want to try out as many Uruguayan restaurants as possible, or if you are planning a romantic
honeymoon, and do not wish to be troubled by household chores, a bed and breakfast might be the
preferable to the vacation rental. Unfortunately, bed and breakfasts in Uruguay are few and far
between, but these two establishments repeatedly receive excellent reviews:
Montevideo: Like New York, Buenos Aires and other large cities, Montevideo is a lively, vibrant town,
which prefers not to go to sleep. The Latin Art Bed and Breakfast provides a touch of tranquility. This
bed and breakfast belongs to Montevideo artist Rosario Rubilar. Her paintings adorn the bedrooms.
Atlantida: This coastal beach town is just 45 minutes outside of Montevideo. It oozes charm and
tranquility. While Atlantida gets its high season crowds, it gets less swamped than other coastal towns.
A lovely bed and breakfast called Hotel Piroska sits on the east, and less crowed side of town. Unlike
most Uruguay bed and breakfasts, Hotel Piroska serves a full feast for breakfast. The hotel restaurant is
Wherever you stay in Uruguay is bound to induce enchantment. Visit and enjoy!
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