We’ve seen the light. And lots of it, too, at Posada Ayana, a low-rise, flat-roofed, entirely modern getaway, pleasingly blended with its surroundings. There’s an angular elegance to the stone, wood and glass exterior, and inside rooms are a-glow with retro Sixties styling: vintage film posters, black and white illustrations, mid-century furniture and standing lamps – and not a TV in sight. But this is only part of the story. Residing on the hotel’s grounds (meaning free entry for you) is artist James Turrell’s Skyspace installation, Ta Khut, which means ‘the light’. Using the rising sun outside and artificial light within, as you’ll be doing in this prized corner of Uruguay, it celebrates light at play.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine; GoldSmiths also get lunch for two by the pool (worth US$60)
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £362.61 ($455).
Rates include a hearty breakfast in the morning, including freshly squeezed juice, coffee or tea, home-made pastries and breads, and fruit salad. Main plates come cooked to order, such as omelette, green toast, cured fish and French toast.
There’s a ramp connecting different communal areas of the posada and the ground-floor suite is wheelchair accessible.
Early April to end October
At the hotel
Free WiFi, bikes to borrow, chairs, umbrellas and towels for beach trips, pillow menu, landscaped grounds, free access to the Skyspace art installation, onsite library, laundry service (from $5). In rooms: air conditioning, minibar, Bluetooth speaker, stationery, maps and guides, hairdryer, bathrobes, free bottled water, all-natural, locally made toiletries by Jabones Jam.
Our favourite rooms
Arriving à deux, our hearts leapt for joy at the sight of the Ocean Suite, with its private terrace views and stylish, comfortable surrounds. In a bigger party, however, the Villa Ayana is undeniably the ultimate accommodation choice here, offering three private bedroom suites, plus an infinity pool complete with waterside hammock and Sixties-style hanging armchair, and wood and glass-bordered living, dining and kitchen area. Each of the bedroom suites showcases work from a different Uruguayan artist: Adriana Rostovsky in the master, Carmela Piñón in the terrace suite and Francisca Maya in the garden suite. Views of the Skyspace dome in the background remind you of the uniqueness of your location.
The 16-metre saltwater infinity pool is finished in dark green marble and bordered with sun beds and cheery mustard parasols. The long and sandy Mansa beach is just a short walk away.
There’s no spa, but there is a treatment room for massages. You can also choose to enjoy your massage in your room, as well as mani-pedis or make-up and hair styling services for your special night out. There’s a fitness room with yoga mats, weights and more, plus personal trainers, including yoga and Pilates teachers, available on request. You can book a court or a tennis lesson at the country club across the street, or hit the golf course at Cantegril Country Club or La Barra Golf Club.
Glamorous two-piece and Panama to really look the part on those sun-splashed terraces.
The Kofler family, creators of Posada Ayana, had long been admirers of James Turrell’s Skyspace installations.
Posada Ayana is a relaxing, adults-only retreat.
Posada Ayana has signed the Unesco Sustainable Tourism Pledge and has a firm planet and community focus. Solar panels generate electricity, and LED bulbs on energy-saving timers provide the lighting. There are also timers to make the boilers energy efficient, as well as water-saving devices on the taps. Refillable glass bottles are used for drinking water, and the same goes for the all-natural artisan-made toiletries, which are delivered to the hotel in large reusable containers. Paper or bamboo drinking straws are available at the bar. The seasonal produce for breakfast and bar snacks all comes from trusted local suppliers and farmers, and wines are all local. As everything is made to order, food waste is kept low, and any extras are used to make staff meals. The few plastics that are used here are recycled in conjunction with a local organisation. Guest rooms are dressed with upcycled and vintage pieces or furniture and artworks made by local carpenters and blacksmiths using locally available materials. Pieces of leftover stone from the building stage have been used to make coffee tables.
The hotel itself was built using mostly local materials. The green pool marble and the lapacho wood was brought in on land transport from Brazil. The white marble for the Skyspace came from the village of Laas (where the owners’ family originate from), and travelled a longer distance to arrive here, but was sustainably produced using waste offcuts to make small transportable bricks. Instead of being developed into more guest accommodation, the land by the hotel was used for the Skyspace art installation, now a monument of national interest in Uruguay, and the surrounding parkland has been filled with more than 15,000 indigenous plants. All of the profits generated from the Skyspace are used to support local artists, particularly women. The hotel partners with two Uruguayan community organisations (Faro Limpio and ReachingU) and guests are welcome to donate to them or join beach-cleaning expeditions if they wish.
There isn’t a formal restaurant on site, but the owners are happy to throw you a dinner party made to order. Just ask in advance and you can enjoy ultra-fresh seafood and fish, grass-fed local beef, and the hotelier’s pick of Uruguayan wines and beers to wash it all down with.
In the retro-styled communal lounge and reception area there’s a bar serving craft beers, Uruguayan wines, coffees and more, plus fruit, nuts and freshly baked pastries.
Posada Ayana is located in the upmarket fishing village of José Ignacio, Uruguay.
Punta del Este International Airport is an hour away by car and Carrasco International Airport is around two hours’ drive away. Airport transfers are available on request.
There are designated parking spaces available in front of the main building, plus additional on-street parking if needed.
There’s a landing area a short drive away from the hotel for helicopter arrivals – contact reception in advance to arrange.
Worth getting out of bed for
In this magical setting, it would be rude not to start with a massage and a mani in your room, followed by some laps in the green-marbled saltwater pool. A sunrise visit to the Skyspace is a rite of passage here, and once you venture out into the upscale little hub of José Ignacio, there’s plenty of entertainment on offer. On the water, there’s kitesurfing, sea swimming and kayaking, while on land you can ride horses, play polo or tennis, or hike.
La Juana Cocina has an inviting list of cocktails and craft beers, plus local fish and seafood dishes seasoned with fresh herbs. Take a seat on the rustic veranda of Parador La Huella for sushi, pizzas, salads, and more. In the evening, the lovely lantern and candle-lit garden of Marismo is an enchanting place to sink your toes into the sand and enjoy dishes crafted with local ocean and farm-fresh produce – think wood-fired seafood accompanied by fine wines.
Mostrador Santa Teresita is a popular lunch destination for sandwiches, salads and fresh lemonade on the patio. Or pop into the super-cool hotel, bookstore and coffeeshop Rizoma for great coffee, snacks and light lunches.
The bulb-strung terrace of Solera tapas and wine bar is a friendly spot for tasty tapas alongside a local and international wine list.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this art-conscious hotel in Uruguay and unpacked their handmade ponchos, a full account of their coastal break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Posada Ayana in José Ignacio…
Owner-run, small in scale, but born of big ideas, Posada Ayana has carved out its own special niche. Moments away from the well-heeled little centre of José Ignacio, it not only provides Sixties-influenced luxury guest rooms, finished with dyed sheep’s wool blankets and vintage furniture, but also direct access to a world-famous immersive artwork. Artist James Turrell has installed one of his Skyspaces on the grounds here, a white dome topped with an aperture to funnel in natural light and create an art piece for spectators cocooned within, and surrounded by thousands of native plants. After getting your fill of the locale, settle into a leather armchair back at Posada Ayana or glide along in the green marble pool.