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Visiting Piriápolis, Uruguay and its Argentino Hotel, dating from 1930: among the finest of its day in Latin America

Updated on June 25, 2012
Flag of Uruguay
Flag of Uruguay | Source
Seafront at Piriápolis, in Maldonado department, Uruguay
Seafront at Piriápolis, in Maldonado department, Uruguay | Source
Façade of the Argentino Hotel of Piriápolis during the 2008 Piriápolis Grand Prix weekend
Façade of the Argentino Hotel of Piriápolis during the 2008 Piriápolis Grand Prix weekend | Source
Don Francisco Piria around 1900.
Don Francisco Piria around 1900. | Source
President Baltasar Brum, in office 1919-1923
President Baltasar Brum, in office 1919-1923 | Source
Map location of Maldonado department, Uruguay
Map location of Maldonado department, Uruguay | Source

Hospitality on a monumental scale

The Argentino Hotel in Piriápolis, Uruguay, in Maldonado department, was built between 1920 and 1930. The creation of don Francisco Piria de Grossi (1847-1933) (as was the town of Piriápolis also), the hotel was in its day among the largest and finest in Latin America (1).

The Hotel was first envisaged as an annex of another existing one, but the undertaking became much bigger. Having thus become a great project of national interest, its foundation stone was laid by Uruguayan President Baltasar Brum Rodríguez in 1920 (2),

Its very name denotes the Argentinian provenance of many of the town's visitors; indeed, neighbouring Punta del Este's prosperity has long been linked with the large numbers of Argentinian nationals who at various levels have 'adopted' this part of the Uruguayan coastline.

One of the coastal roads at Piriápolis, Rambla de los Argentinos , (Promenade of the Argentinians), is also named by way of reference to the many actual — and hoped for — visitors to the town.

The 6-storey Hotel was designed to accommodate 1200 guests. Its interior furnishings were imported from various quality suppliers in European countries.

As well as a closer view of the Argentino Hotel, taken on Grand Prix day, I have also supplied, above, a photo of the seafront at Piriápolis, showing the looming form this great hotel in the distance. Cruise liners would stop at Piriápolis in the Hotel's early days, and the massive form of the building, below the Sugarloaf Mountain (Spanish: Pan de Azúcar ) must have been an impressive initial sight to many a sea voyager.

June 23, 2012


(1) A bust of don Francisco Piria is displayed close to the Hotel.

(2) Sadly, former President Brum, did not live long to see the Hotel's development and flourishing after its eventual completion and opening; in 1933 he committed suicide at the still early age of 49. Don Francisco Piria also, having witnessed the building of his great Hotel over a decade, himself died in 1933.

Also worth seeing

Near Piriápolis is Piria Castle (Spanish: Castillo Piria ), which is open to the public; this was the home of local landowner and developer don Francisco Piria. Close to the Castle is a nature reserve, situated in the shadow of the scenic Sugarloaf Hill (Spanish: Cerro Pan de Azúcar ).


How to get there: LanChile flies to Montevideo , Uruguay from North American destinations including New York and Toronto . The Uruguayan airline PLUNA, which codeshares with VARIG, flies to a number of Latin American regional destinations. Car rental is available at Montevideo Carrasco International airport. Mainly seasonal flights from Buenos Aires also operate to Laguna del Sauce International Airport, which principally serves the nearby Uruguayan resort of Punta del Este , a short distance along the coast from Piriápolis . Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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