close

Chile Hotels

Where to stay in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile: Atacamadventure Wellness & Ecolodge

no thumb

After our summer in Europe and the US, we flew back down to Chile in order to set off from San Pedro de Atacama to undertake the incredible Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats tour. All we wanted before being thrust into freezing cold temperatures, 4,800m altitude, mediocre food (and did I mention three days straight of off-roading?) was a pair of fuzzy slippers and a bit of pampering.

Relaxing in San Pedro de AtacamaSurprisingly, San Pedro de Atacama does luxury very, very well on the whole. At the top of the accommodation pyramid, there are three to five high-end luxury resorts that can charge upwards of $500 a night. That drops dramatically in the mid-range, which is why we opted to stay at Atacamadventure Wellness and Ecolodge. An eco-friendly boutique Bed And Breakfast, Atacamadventure offered exactly the kind of (guilt-free) pampering we are looking for – a hot tub, pool, sauna, massage studio plus homemade organic breakfast. In addition, the hotel uses primarily solar energy and has incorporated a centuries’ old local irrigation technique that offers you lovely green spaces once you step inside this off-the-beaten path resort from the burnt orange desert dirt outside.

San Pedro De Atacama Atacamadventure Ecolodge chileAt a 30 minute walk outside of town, and further than most other hotels we could have chosen, it certainly felt off-the-beaten path. (I admit: the walk could take as little as 15 minutes under other circumstances, but in either dry desert sun or pitch black darkness and the high altitude, we were huffing and puffing in a way that was like doing cardio at a leisurely stroll.)

San Pedro De Atacama AtacamadventureAlthough most resorts and even some hostels offer free pick-up and shuttle service into the downtown area, Atacamadventure does not. The taxi driver had never heard of it and it was an adventure finally landing upon this hidden hotel.

Atacamadventure San Pedro De Atacama ChileOnce inside, however, this is a beautiful little escape. The first owner started taking in a boarder or two until she built on a separate cottage. Then, as time went on she added on an additional five rooms. All six are very different, and we were incredibly impressed with ours. First impression – it was huge. King size bed? Check. White fluffy pillows? Four checks. Desk with a oddly professional office chair? Check (although this pressured me to actually get some writing done!) Walk-in closet with about twenty shelves? Check. And the bathroom! The bathroom alone was larger than most private hostel rooms available in San Pedro proper. We had hers and hers pedestal sinks, a jacuzzi tub and a stand-up jacuzzi shower, big white towels and fuzzy slippers.

San Pedro De Atacama Atacamadventure room and bathroomAfter our long journey we skipped dinner and flopped down into bed. Even though we almost never watch TV, the receptionist had mentioned it when she was showing us around the room (that’s how big the room was, she could show us around in it). But when my fingers crawled along the nightstand looking for the remote, they came up empty. There was, in fact, no TV in the room and we were so tired we had hardly noticed. We fell asleep five minutes later anyway. There is one large TV in the lounge upstairs to share, but the focus here, explained the manager, is on escape, powering down and soaking up the natural environment.

San Pedro De Atacama Atacamadventure EcolodgeRefreshed and seriously starving, the next morning we couldn’t have been happier with the breakfast. We ordered made-to-order omelets from the short, no-nonsense cook in charge, who also showed us the fresh brewed coffee, tea, hot milk, bowls which we filled with fresh fruit, homemade yogurt and plate which we piled high with homemade cakes, bread slices, cheese, butter and jam. With our bellies full we headed into town to get some work done (the wi-fi signal here was non-existent) and returned in the afternoon with plans to hit the outdoor jacuzzi and sauna. Two older couples had beaten us to the jacuzzi and at $70 an hour, the infrared sauna wasn’t worth it, so instead Dani grabbed a glass of wine (well-priced at $3 a glass), I filled up a cup of coffee and we sprawled out on the white couches outside on the back patio and planned our time in Bolivia the coming week.

San Pedro De Atacama Atacamadventure breakfastThe hotel restaurant does offer a dinner menu each evening, but it is heavily meat-based and one thing we love most about San Pedro is the food selection in town (everything from hearty pizzas to fine dining and three-course set menus from $10) so at sunset we hopped on two of the three bikes available and pushed the rusty pedals into town for dinner. The plan was to try out the giant telescope on the back patio when we got back that second night but it turns out we don’t really know how to work it. The idea was nice though, as star gazing is the number one evening past time here in the desert.

San Pedro De Atacama Atacamadventure bikesThe breakfast selection the second morning was much more modest, but the rest of the morning went off without a hitch. I got in a long yoga session in our room, getting all the kinks out and calming my nerves for the adventure to come. Dani sat sprawled out on big pillows in the comfortable lounge loft above the kitchen, editing photos and drinking bottomless cups of coffee from the breakfast bar – the combination of coffee and photo editing puts Dani most definitely in what you could call her element!

Leaving Atacamadventure was much easier than our arrival – they simply called us a cab and hopped in and off we went to our big adventure.

Hotel Highlight: Relax factor
Even though we loved our room, what we both loved even more was not having to stay in it to relax. There are many different areas to relax: inside upstairs in the lofted lounge and outside on several comfortable white couches or lounge chairs, plus the pool/jacuzzi area had deck chairs as well. It was so peaceful to sit outside, take in the fresh air and late afternoon sun, totally relaxed and saying hi to the other guests padding barefoot back and forth enjoying their spa time.

San Pedro De Atacama Atacamadventure sitting areasRoom for improvement: Shuttle service and signage 
There is apparently a law in San Pedro that prohibits hotels from putting a sign anywhere but on their property, which unfortunately for this hotel, means no one could ever possibly happen to see it. For that reason and the location itself, Atacamadventure needs to offer a shuttle service – from pick up service at bus station around town to shuttle service that brings guests back and forth from town.

Overall
Two relaxing and refreshing nights’ sleep later, we got what we came for, even without dipping our toe in the jacuzzi. Despite inconsistencies in quality (breakfast, bikes and Wi-Fi that works) Atacamadventure Wellness & Ecolodge is a great little oasis outside San Pedro to shut off and relax for a few days at a time, especially before – or better yet after – the Bolivian salt flats tour.

Atacamadventure Ecolodge San Pedro De Atacama Chile

Details

Website: www.atacamadventure.com
Location: Pasaje Alana No.2, San Pedro de Atacama 1410000, Chile
Price: Double rooms start at US$185
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Not until there’s WiFi (that works)
Amenities: Swimming pool, jacuzzi, complimentary breakfast, coffee & tea all day; lunch and dinner available; fully-stocked bar; tour desk; hammocks; library; garden & terraces; sauna; massages, free bicycles

You can book your stay at Atacamadventure via Booking.com.

read more

Hotel Tip of the Week: Hosteria Yendegaia | Porvenir, Chile

no thumb

During the 1980s, the last sign on the way out of Porvenir said simply, “El ultimo apaga la luz.”

If you’re the last to go, turn off the light.

So much of the population of this small Chilean town fled to the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego in search of work during that time, Porvenir could easily have become a ghost town. Not everyone left, however, and three decades later there are roughly 5,000 people living here. It feels more like a ghost town, in an eery yet exciting way. Unlike the large Chilean city of Puntarenas across the Straight of Magellan, or Ushuaia, the southernmost city on the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego, Porvenir is isolated, there are no cruisers squawking around the city on their South American cruise around Cape Horn or adventure seekers ready to jet off to Antarctica. Visitors here are bird watchers or those Transamerica cyclists who detour here on their way from Alaska to Ushuaia. Porvenir truly feels like the end of the world.

yendegaia hosteria porvenirScattered among blocks of rundown houses are a few tourist cabins and one sterile hotel outside of town, but there is only one place you want to stay in Porvenir: Hosteria Yendegaia.

A beacon on a hill 

Perched high on a hill in the center of town, this just slightly oversized yellow house can be spotted from just about anywhere. While it doesn’t exactly stand out, it is clear from its refurbished look and fresh coat of paint that Yendegaia is something special. We could not have been more relieved when, once inside, this Bed and Breakfast was so well-run and cozy that it felt more like we were in an English B&B than here at the end of the world.

yendegaia hosteria porvenir chairsThe bedrooms are all en-suite, with clean, bright bathrooms and showers with scalding hot water – a detail of utmost important here. Our visit was in mid-March, which is only early autumn in the southern hemisphere, but between whipping winds and pounding rain, the weather was bone-chilling for the two of us summer-chasers.

Luckily, along with warm showers, carpeted floors, strong heaters, fluffy towels and thick, pillow-y blankets for refuge, Vicente’s priority when refurbishing the house two years ago was putting in double pane windows to keep out the weather, whose presence here is always palpable.

yendegaia hosteria porvenir old stovesUpstairs there are ten bedrooms just like ours, each with a TV and a set of oversized twin beds. The absence of queen beds irked me at first, until I realized that, with guests almost exclusively groups of birdwatchers, the beds are in fact quite practical. This isn’t really a couple’s retreat spot – yet. Porvenir, which means future in Spanish, has quite a future, indeed, Vicente assured us.

Time moves slower here and we have plenty of time to chat during our two-night stay, so it is easy to see why he is so enthusiastic, no matter how bleak things looked to us outsiders on the surface.

yendegaia hosteria porvenir beds

The future is bright 

During our stay the hotel was full with a group of eight French tourists, birdwatchers, of course, but we imagined how quickly things would change if there were just one smart entrepreneur who opened a tourist information office and created tours our into the true Patagonian wilderness. With absolutely no public transportation in this area of Tierra del Fuego there is no way for tourists like us to see much outside of the town (which boasts exactly zero tourist sites). There is plenty to be experienced, it just needs to be packaged better: in addition to the birds, there are penguin colonies, and there could be plenty of guided hikes and adventure sports set with a backdrop of that incredible, otherworldly Patagonian landscape. With not much to do, had there been a ‘city’ tour, we would have taken that, too, in order to learn more about life in this isolated but interesting place.yendegaia hosteria porvenir bottlesAttracting tourists should become less of a challenge with the great-value accommodation of Hosteria Yendegaia already in place, which also boasts the best kitchen in town. Vicente’s brother-in-law is the live-in cook and the only other person to talk to during those stretches without guests. Our first dinner was a delicious soup and bread, while the French group devoured a sophisticated three-course menu of various succulent meats. After chatting about Chilean food with Vicente that next afternoon, they threw together a special vegetarian version of Chorillana, an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink dish set on a bed of french fries that is typically piled high with meat. It was an interesting result, but we just so pleased with their playful experimentation, all on our account.

Breakfast was the only aspect that was not as good as a British bed and breakfast, but miles beyond the usual hotel breakfast in Chile because, in addition to white rolls, butter and jam, we were also served two eggs any style. Tea, coffee or hot chocolate are available all day at no charge, and it was so comforting to fill our bellies with warm green tea throughout the rainy afternoons.

yendegaia hosteria porvenir chile

Stand Out Feature: A True Refuge

You go to end of the world, to a place like Porvenir, because you want a feeling different to bustling Puntarenas in Chile or tourist-saturated Ushuaia in Argentina. And you certainly get it. For hundreds of miles around Porvenir there is nothing but wilderness, an almost unsettling barrenness. In the town itself, there are no places where people gather together, no cafes, and very few, very empty restaurants. For us, this solitude could easily become one of loneliness without knowing we could return to the comfort of Yendegaia, after a day fighting 30-40 mph winds, cold and rain on walks around town each day.

Coming back in to this safe haven made us feel the right balance of comfort and adventure. In fact, when we said our goodbyes and began our hitchhiking adventure across Patagonia (we’ll cover that in a post soon) we both found ourselves dreaming of Yendegaia’s comforts and hoping that, should we successfully arrive in Ushuaia that night, our hotel would provide the same comforts (it wouldn’t, no where near it, in fact).

yendegaia hosteria porvenir tierra del fuego

Room for Improvement: Living Room 

This is a big reach, as the hosteria is as good as it gets anywhere. But…the only thing we can come up with to improve upon is the downstairs area. Next to the dining room there are several chairs around two coffee tables, but these are covered in books that Vicente and his photographer father co-authored and published, and native artwork his mother creates. These products are gorgeous, top quality and worth purchasing, but it feels more like a store than a living room, so all relaxing has to take place in the bedrooms upstairs.yendegaia hosteria porvenir living room

Overall

At the time of writing, Hosteria Yendegaia is the absolute only choice to stay at in Provenir. A beacon of warmth and friendliness, this is exactly the type of accommodation we would recommend anywhere in the world; be it in the British countryside, a world-class city or here at the end of the word. If you are nearing the end of your trans-americas cycling trip, planning a bird-watching adventure or just curious about Tierra del Fuego, you should definitely stay here!

Details

Website: www.hosteriayendegaia.com
Location:
Croacia 702, Porvenir, Tierra Del Fuego, Chile
Price: Double rooms are CLP$35.000 in high season (US$70), single rooms CLP$22.000 (US$44), triple rooms CLP$45.000 (US$90)
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes – this is easily the fastest wi-fi in connection in all of Porvenir!
Amenities: Breakfast included, TV in room, private bathrooms with toiletries, living room, free wifi, tours can be booked

yendegaia hosteria porvenir key

read more

Hotel Tip Of The Week: Margouya 2 in Puerto Varas, Chile

no thumb

We almost missed the blackboard with ‘Margouya 2’ scrawled hastily on it hanging from the front door of a historic home on a quiet side street called Purisima, which, roughly translated, means ‘super pure’.

What was a chance booking at a Puerto Varas hostel turned out to be a ‘purely super’ accommodation experience. The French owner, Pierre, is a former travel journalist and photographer who has been able to nail down exactly the kind of hostel experience we are always on the look out for but rarely find. The space he has created and his staff maintains is organized and controlled, yet with the comfortable ambiance that allows travelers to relax and enjoy time together.

Puerto Varas Margouya 2 HostelAfter checking in, we were taken on a tour of the hostel and then Pierre sat down with both a town map and a topography map of the surrounding region, proceeding to lay out how to do a quick two-hour walking tour of town, followed by a full explanation of the types of tours and activities that are easiest to do from Puerto Varas using the other map. Margouya 2 runs tours for guests, including sunset kayaking and hiking tours, or guests can grab one of the new, sturdy mountain bikes perfect for making the full-day cycle trip to the German town of Frutillar or other independent trips. Our three days in Puerto Varas were planned out within minutes thanks to his expert advice and maps. While the staff could be friendlier, they helped with anything and everything we needed during our stay.

Puerto Varas Margouya 2 Hostel bikes and toursThere are seven private double rooms and two four-bed dorm rooms on two stories of this well-preserved colonial home on Chile’s Patrimonial Hertiage list. The well-lit doubles are entirely adequate in size, with comfortable beds in sturdy wooden frames and the rooms have desks, chairs and power strips to plug in several electronic devices at once (hostel/B&B owners worldwide: please invest in power strips like Pierre – we all have multiple devices and one outlet just doesn’t cut it!). The only thing we found missing was that there were not enough hooks in the room. Dani’s theory is that this is a historic home, so making holes in walls is frowned upon. Speaking of the walls, they are thin and noise does carry, but this wasn’t a problem during our stay as the average age of the guests was around 35, so there were no gap year backpackers shouting over bottles of beer late into the night.

Puerto Varas Margouya 2 roomsTaking in the vibe of the house, I immediately noticed how grand it feels, nothing like your average hostel. I wondered why Pierre didn’t go the ‘extra mile’ and make it into a Bed and Breakfast. We later discovered why, when, on our last morning at the hotel, Pierre asked why he didn’t see us watching the movie last night. We had passed out early after a full day exploring town (and, maybe, eating too much cake…).

In his lovely French accent he explained, “Oh, what a shame. It was beautiful last night, you know, with everybody gathered around the TV in the living room, drinking wine and watching a black and white film from 1942 together.” He went on to explain how much he prefers the energy of hostel life, the togetherness of a hostel you just don’t have with a more sophisticated Bed and Breakfast. It’s true. The living room would be filled with five or six small tables if this were a B&B, but instead there is one long wooden table where everyone eats meals together or relaxes on an oversized couch (the most comfortable in Chile, Pierre proudly claimed) on rainy evenings to watch one of the 300+ films available together. We later learned that the noncommittal chalk sign outside is on purpose – the name Margouya 2 was inherited but it will change soon (and we will update this review as soon as we are notified of the change).

Margouya 2 puerto varas communal roomYears of hard-earned travel experience plus love of hostel life means that Pierre brings together all the best parts of other hostels and keeps away those that give ‘hostels’ a bad reputation. Guests here receive loads of local information, tour information without any pressure at all to take part, a communal environment great for couples and travelers over 20 years of age, plus coffee and tea available all day and dependable, plus super-fast Wi-Fi.

There is a spacious garden in the back with a grill, hammocks, and a grass volleyball court for good weather, while inside there are stoves and heaters original to the house that keep everyone toasty warm on the chilly nights. The location is an additional plus. The street is quiet, but just around the corner from the main drag and is a five minute walk down the hill into town.

Margouya 2 puerto varas coffee

Stand Out Feature: The kitchen 

Unlike cheapie hostels requiring one-pan pasta meals, this kitchen is made for cooking. With room for roughly half the hostel to prepare meals at once, the spacious kitchen is fully stocked with stacks and stacks of pots and pans, more than enough silverware, including razor sharp knives and several full sets of dishes (and fresh, clean sponges to wash them with when you’re done). There is a new blender, a coffee press and a coffee machine, an electric kettle to boil water, a toaster and a large table in the center of the kitchen with large cutting boards for everyone to stand around and prepare their food together. During our time there, people were making lovely stews, an interesting baked chicken, cheese and endive meal, and big, leafy salads. Two large refrigerators keep guests’ food separate and easy to find, with markers and bags in a basket on top to label food so nothing goes missing and, when checking out, guests leave any leftover ingredients – fresh fruit/veg, oil, spices, bread – on a designated table for anyone to use. We particularly loved this feature as we not only hate seeing food we buy go to waste, but also dislike having to buy new oil / salt every time a hostel has a kitchen!

Small talk and wine drinking ensue as people talk over and under others in a myriad of languages, with just the sort of energy that we assume Pierre had in mind when he opened the place.

Puerto Varas Margouya 2 Hostel kitchen

Room for Improvement: The showers

The bathrooms are cosy, with extra toilet paper rolls, soap and fresh towels, but the showers are original – which unfortunately means they are a bit shabby and in need of a refurb. I’d like to see modern plexiglass shower cabins, rain shower heads and shelf space for toiletries inside. Truth be told, the bathrooms are fine for your typical backpacker hostel, but as the rest of Margouya 2 is that wonderful step up from such an experience, why not invest a bit here to match the high level of all around quality.

Margouya 2 puerto varas bathroom

Overall

This is a hostel for grown-ups that gets the whole experience just right. With the same rates as other hostels in Puerto Varas, the value for money here is off the charts.

Details

Website: Margouya2.com
Location:Purisima 681, Puerto Varas, Chile
Price: Dorm beds CLP8,000 (US$16), single room CLP15,000 (US$30), double rooms with shared bathroom CLP20,000 (US$40), double rooms with private bathroom CLP26,000 (US$52)
LGBT Friendly:Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes
Amenities: Kitchen use, lounge room with TV and comprehensive DVD library, tour desk, bike rental, free wifi, garden with sun chairs and BBQ

Margouya 2 puerto varas communal room with table

read more

Hotel Tip of The Week: Bosque Nativo | Valdivia, Chile

no thumb

 

Welcome to our Hotel Tip of The Week series. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way. For all the dingy, disappointing budget digs, there are as many budget accommodation gems. We post one hotel tip of the week, every week, of places we feel confident recommending after having tried and tested them ourselves.

I had this feeling of dread on the way to Valdivia that I just couldn’t shake. After a couple of rough sleeps and rainy days, I needed a hot shower, a good night’s rest and peace and quiet to get some work done. Traveling in the height of Chile’s vacation month, we had to book two nights in a dorm room – something we almost never do for plenty of reasons. Because we were coming off one of our worst-ever hostel experiences, I wasn’t expecting much better from this hostel in Valdivia.

Instead, what we got was a spacious, clean, well-run hostel experience at Hostal Bosque Nativo. Set just a few blocks from the river near most everything in this small city, the hostel is ranked number 1 of 19 specialty lodging on Tripadvisor for a good reason.

bosque nativo valdivia dorm roomAfter signing in at reception, we were brought up a wide, wooden staircase to a large six-person dorm room that never felt cramped. The Wi-Fi was lightning fast, it was generally quiet enough for us to get work done and we both slept like rocks on the quality, comfortable mattresses. All the bunk beds were made out of sturdy wood, as are the doubles in all four private rooms and the bunks in the other 6-person and 8-person dorm. All rooms are named after a tree native to the area around Valdivia, as the name, Bosque Nativo, or native forest, would suggest.

bosque nativo valdivia rauli roomThis is because the hostel is the revenue-generating arm of a nonprofit organization that works in the sustainable management of Chile’s native forests, an issue of significant importance in Valdivia, where forestry and wood pulp exportation are big business and threaten both the forests and the species of animals that live there. With such an important purpose, we felt like the message could have been translated through to the guests more, but the family who runs it doesn’t communicate much with the guests.

They do keep the place spic and span, though. Separated into ladies and men’s, each had two toilets and three showers that were super clean, if a bit cramped. In the morning, each room was assigned a table down in the dining area, where a typical Chilean breakfast of white toast, jam, marmalade and cake is laid out beforehand. Not a healthy breakfast that some eco-hostels prefer, but considering their relatively inexpensive rates ($20 per dorm bed, private rooms starting at $43 in high season), we weren’t expecting much else.

bosque nativo valdivia breakfastOff the dining area are the kitchen and also a cozy living room. The kitchen was very clean with plenty of plates, cutlery and enough pots and pans to make a good meal, though cutting boards were sorely missed. The living room has couches, a flat screen TV, a wood stove for chilly nights, plus books and magazines to read. It’s a good place to hang out and socialize.

bosque nativo valdivia living room

Stand-Out Feature: Value for Money

Taking into account that Chilean prices, especially during high season, are on par or  higher than in Europe or the U.S., the rates at Bosque Nativo are on the lower end of budget accommodation and hostels in Valdivia. What you get in return are hot showers, towels, breakfast, use of a clean, well-equipped kitchen, good wi-fi, dorms have big lockers for backpacks + locks, private rooms have cable TV, there is plenty of communal space, all set in a great location.

bosque nativo valdivia kitchen

Room for improvement: Impersonal staff

Everything in the hostel worked like clockwork, and there is nothing negative to say about the family running it at all. But they were not overly friendly, helpful or communicative. Breakfast was already laid out, so no one had to talk to us, and we really appreciate when we are given a map of the city and told a bit about what there is to do, but we were quickly checked in and shown to our rooms. When we left, we were asked for our keys without any question as to our next stop or mentions of bon voyage. This is a shame especially considering that this a clean, well-run eco-hostel that is part of such an important and interesting non-profit.

bosque nativo valdivia private room

Overall

Impersonal staff aside, Bosque Nativo is a great option for a short stay in Valdivia. The clean, comfortable and cozy hostel is just a few blocks from the point where three major rivers meet in Valdivia, home to the famous fish market and spot where all the tour boats leave from. Plus, all city center restaurants, bars and grocery stores are within a 10-15 minute walk.

bosque nativo valdivia breakfast room

Details

Location: Fresia 290, Valdivia, Chile
Price: High season (October – March): $20 for a dorm bed; $50 for a double room with private bathroom, $43 for a double room with shared bathroom; Low season (April – September): $17 for a dorm bed, $43 for a double room with private bathroom, $37 for a private room with shared bathroom
LGBT Friendly: Not outwardly
Digital Nomad Friendly: Good wi-fi connection and work space in the communal areas
Amenities: Free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, kitchen use, laundry service, lockers with locks, TV in private rooms, towels
Website:
www.hostelnativo.cl

read more
css.php