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The Big-City Rental


The Old Town loft in Montevideo.  

Montevideo

Wedged between South America’s giants, Argentina and Brazil, little Uruguay is often an afterthought. But the capital’s Ciudad Vieja district has some of the continent’s finest architecture: Stop by Palacio Salvo (palaciosalvo.com), a colossal gothic and neo-romantic landmark, and take in the city’s Art Deco gems along Avenida 18 de Julio (be sure to gawk at Palacio Díaz and Palacio Rinaldi). For culture, hit up Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales (mnav.gub.uy) in Parque Rodó or an opera at Teatro Solís (teatrosolis.org.uy). Come afternoon, snack on a massini, a classic Uruguayan cream-and-­caramel cake, at Carrera (5982-400-2859), then move on to gigantic grass-fed steaks at Mercado del Puerto (mercadodelpuerto.com.uy) before attempting your best tango at Baar Fun Fun (barfunfun.com).

Where to Stay
The Punta Carretas four-­bedroom villa (from $300, seven-day minimum; vrbo.com) comes with two noteworthy perks: a private cook and a treehouse.

Enjoy rivers views from the deck of this very Selby-like three-bedroom loft in Old Town (from $200; airbnb.com/rooms/229557).

The country-club-like Le Bibló (from $295; lebiblo.com) is two blocks from the beach and has a pool crawling with kids.


London


As most Olympics cities have done, London is using the 2012 Summer Games as an opportunity to tidy up its gritty fringe, namely East London. But for a glimpse of more authentic London scruff, take the tube northwest to still-edgy Dalston and catch an Off West End show at Arcola Theatre, home to two performance spaces in a former paint factory (arcolatheatre.com). Skip next door to Café Oto for a local microbrewed Kernel IPA and some folk banjo or improvisational jazz or whatever eclectic act happens to be onstage (cafeoto.co.uk). Best souvenir: a screen-printed poster produced at the Print Shop nearby and sold in the artist collective’s Brick Lane store just a few stops south in Shoreditch (printclublondon.com). Sate your appetite for pig trotters at the nearby Brawn, serving locally sourced fare on a daily written menu (brawn.co).

Where to Stay
Owner Johnny Matos, who lives upstairs, acts as personal concierge at Johnny’s Place, a cozy bilevel three-bedroom in a Georgian-era Kennington address with a private garden off the kitchen (from $315, four-night minimum; flipkey.com).

From the roof of this one-bedroom, two-story flat across from the Tower of London, you can survey the city from London Eye to Tower Bridge (from $210, four-night minimum; vrbo.com/39294).

The chummy waiters at the buzzy street-level restaurant lend warmth to the Fergus Henderson’s new St John Hotel and Restaurant (above, right; rooms from $379; stjohnhotellondon.com).


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