It's a charming city, especially if you have spent time in hectic Buenos Aires. It’s calmer, more laid back, and Montevideans take advantage of the river! In Montevideo, you see kite surfers and families on the white sandy beaches, people heading to the bars and cafes to take in the sunset, and the massive rambla is perfect for cycling, roller-blading, a run, or just walking off all of the fabulous food and drink.
You'll be surprised at the contrasts in Montevideo where art-deco buildings and horse-drawn carts coexist in one of the most connected countries in the world – Uruguay is the only country in the world to fully roll-out the One Lap Top per Child initiative and even the buses have WiFi.
But Uruguay has always gone its own way. In Catholic Latin America, Uruguay has had a complete separation of church and state for almost 100 years.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Uruguayans elected a former guerrilla and infamously “the poorest president in the world” to the highest office in the land.
And that last year they legalized marijuana.
The Sirena Room is one of several guest rooms in an art-deco style apartment in the center of Montevideo's Old City quarter.
The set-up is especially for independent travelers who value a great location, beautiful surroundings and insider tips.
These recommendations are provided by owners, Karen and Sergio, she's Welsh and he's Argentine. We fell in love with Montevideo and have been living here since 2000. And we don't provide just any old recommendations, a musician and travel enthusiast, Karen is also the owner of one of Uruguay's newest and most popular English-language blogs, Guru'guay.
By pure coincidence, we also happen to live directly opposite from the Uruguayan Association for Cannabis Studies – one of the main lobbying groups behind the legalization.
The guesthouse are close to absolutely everything – a stone's throw from the central Colonial Square, Sarandi --the main pedestrian street through the Old City--galleries, museums, bars and restaurants. There are award-winning vineyards just 10-15 minutes by taxi.
The infamous Mercado del Puerto for massive meaty lunches is 10 minutes walk. As are the carnival --Montevideo has the world's longest carnival-- decorative arts and gaucho museums.
It's perfect to use Montevideo as a base and visit the colonial city of Colonia del Sacramento, sleepy seaside towns like something out of a fifties movie or glitzy Punta del Este by car or bus.
WHY STAY WITH US
Many of our guests are people in the arts, media, design, academia and seasoned travelers who are looking for a special experience in Montevideo.
There's a lot happening culturally in Montevideo but you need to know where – it's not obvious, especially if you don't speak Spanish.
When you arrive, Karen will meet you and give you a personal orientation to the city.
Then after that we'll keep in touch by phone or email, though if you'd like to make sure you see Karen again, you only have to ask (she goes to the guesthouse every day but might not run into you if you are out and about).
Every day based on your interests, we'll make for recommendations on shows, football games, tango, places to chill. You'll also get a small printed guide that people tell us is way more useful than the entire copy of the Lonely Planet!
We are surrounded by wonderful historic cafes just minutes walk from Casa Sarandi. We'll give you a list to choose from. Our favorite, the Brasilero is frequented by Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano, author of "The Open Veins of Latin America".
The Sirena room is so-called because of the carved Brazilian mermaid hanging in the room which we brought back from a trip (this is a whole story in itself – ask us when you come!).
There are two option when you rent Sirena. You can rent it as a room or a suite.
As a room, Sirena has a queen-size bed and en suite bathroom and its own balcony. The cost per night is just $89 US.
As a suite, Sirena becomes a two-room suite –each with queen-size double bed-- with two bathrooms. There is an intercommunicating door and a sofa bed in the adjoining room. The cost for the suite is $153 USD.
Feel free to light up on the balcony as you savor the view of the river (the locals refer to it as the sea), the port and the Cathedral and the sunset over the Old City.
There's great natural light throughout the guesthouse especially in Sirena which is on the corner of the building.
Your room has a ceiling fan and air-con if you prefer. The furniture is antique and there's a writing desk.
Besides your room, you have access to a cozy living room with a large dining table and another balcony and a fully-equipped kitchen. We keep a stock of tea and coffee (including grounds for our fabulous Bialetti espresso pot) there for you to use.
WiFi is free as are local phone calls.
A LITTLE TRUMPET BLOWING
Casa Sarandi has won the TripAdvisor Travelers Choice award two years running since 2014 and is the top accommodation in Montevideo as reviewed by guests – over and above the 5-star hotels!
GETTING HERE AND GETTING AROUND
We are three minutes by taxi from the port, ten minutes from the bus station if you take the ferry-bus combination from Buenos Aires and 35-40 minutes from the international airport. We can help with transfers.
Being in such a central location, we have great transportation links and buses run all times of day and night. This means that if you are very sensitive to noise, you might prefer to stay a more residential area of Montevideo. We have installed double panes on all windows and for most people that works perfectly.
URUGUAY'S MARIJUANA LAWS
As a visitor you can be gifted marijuana but you will not be able to buy (no one is right now, as the government-sanctioned harvest is still smoke on the horizon).
Uruguay’s marijuana laws regarding public consumption are similar to tobacco laws ie over 18 can smoke anywhere other than a public building or enclosed place of work. So you can’t smoke inside a cafe or restaurant but you can smoke at the outdoor tables. To avoid causing nuisance, take your cues from other patrons, don't light up if no one else is.
Check out my blog Guru'guay for more info on marijuana laws in Uruguay as they relate to visitors.
Where you can Smoke Marijuana
- Cannabis Provided
- Outside Smoking
- Inside Smoking
- Lounge Smoking
- Vaporizer Only
- Vaporizer Provided
- Property type : Apartment
- Room type: Private
- Accommodates: 5
- Bedrooms: 2
- Bedtype: Real Bed
- Nearest Airport: Montevideo (Carrasco) International Airport
- Is owner on site: Yes
- Pets on Premises: Allowed
- City: MONTEVIDEO Uruguay
- State: 61000
- Country: Uruguay
- Cancellation: Moderate: Full refund 5 days prior to arrival, except fees