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Chilean Patagonia Hotels

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Alerce Mountain Lodge
Carretera Austral, Km 36
Alerce Andino National Park
Chile
Tel: 56 65 286969
www.mountainlodge.cl

Many Patagonian lodges fall within the hard-to-get-to-but-utterly-worth-it category, including this one, set on the border of a national park named for the 4,000-year-old redwoodlike alerce trees. But while its location may qualify as the Unabomber's ultimate fantasy, it's actually (relatively) easy to access. It's 90 minutes by off-road vehicle from Puerto Montt, the unofficial gateway to Patagonia—so if you only have a few days in the area (shame on you!), this is the place. It's still not easy: The roads are bumpy and the final stretch is on a raft across a small lake. The main structure, with six rooms, is constructed from the same 240-foot alerces you'll see outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, and public areas are warmed by a converted steam-train furnace. Three outlying cabins are connected by a network of catwalks—guests stutter-step to the main house for meals. You'll need at least two nights to make it worthwhile, but your days will be spent hiking past waterfalls to peaks carpeted with coigüe and mañío trees, or driving down to a nearby rodeo for a rowdy get-together with Chile's huaso cowboys (October–April). The chef produces inventive local fare; the guides are knowledgeable and entertaining; and sore muscles can be rejuvenated in the sauna and hot tub.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Bahía Mala
Near Isla Magdalena
West of La Junta
Chile
Tel: 54 11 4311 1919 (reservations)
www.burcoadventure.com/bahiamala_en.html

Much of Chile's southern coast looks like somebody crumbled up crackers and dropped them into the sea. Bahía Mala is situated among that fragmented landscape south of Puerto Montt. You take a helicopter in—not extravagant behavior, since there's no road access and the alternatives are boat or raft. The lodge itself is restrained, with four guest cabins that lord over three miles of private beach (a volcanic combo of black sand and dunes) and overlook a Pacific bay churning with dolphins, orcas, and sea lions. (Now you see why it's worth the bother.) To the east, thousands of acres of jungle are laced with waterfalls, streams, and saltwater lakes and guard the only access to the volcano that towers over the property. Fly-fish on private reaches of Río Bahía Mala or take the lodge's boat to cast at sea. Mountain bikes and sea kayaks are on hand, along with a stable of excellent horses. Included in the price are gourmet food, unlimited alcohol, and all the toys—except that chopper, which is also on call for heli-fishing trips.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel CostAustralis
Pedro Montt 262
Puerto Natales
Chile
Tel: 56 61 412 000
www.hoteles-australis.com/html/ingles.asp

Accommodation within Torres del Paine national park is limited to two extremes: the big-price Explora resort or a tent. To find shelter from Patagonia's fickle weather without a big hotel bill, one possibility is to spend part of the time in Puerto Natales and drive the 90-some miles to the park (it's a three-hour drive, though, so you might still want that tent part of the time). Hotel CostAustralis is on Natales's waterfront, and while it's no cozy boutique, its 74 spacious rooms (many with ocean views) are a good value. The hotel's peaked chalet roofs look pilfered from Disney's Magic Kingdom, but the view overlooking Last Hope Sound is superb. Extra points for its restaurant, Paine, with sautéed king crabs directly from the ocean, succulent lamb cuts, and Patagonian specialties such as conger eel, hare stew, and roasted salmon served with a shellfish sauce.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel José Nogueira
Bories 959
Punta Arenas
Chile
Tel: 56 61 711 000
www.hotelnogueira.com

Because it's so darn hard to get around this part of the world, airports are a big deal. (After spending hours in the back of a 4X4 or in a violently rocking ship, you'll understand why.) Which is why the city of Punta Arenas is important to travelers: It serves as a midpoint between the northerly Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego farther south. If you're traveling that far down, you'll likely be staying a night or two here, for which we suggest this property. The former residence of a rich family that made its profits on wool in the 1800s, the brick edifice on the central Plaza de Armas was completed in 1890. The family filled it with Europe's finest lamps, curtains, carriage clocks, and other adornments. Declared a national monument in 1982, it opened ten years later as a 22-room hotel, and is still crammed with much of the original furniture. The Old World elegance and comfort contrast nicely with the rough-and-tumble treatment you're likely to get on the rest of your trip. The elegance extends to the Club de la Unión bar and the glass-domed Pérgola restaurant, arrayed around an indoor winter garden. And although it's more about overstuffed furniture than modern amenities, it does have Wi-Fi in the lobby.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel Salto Chico, Explora en Patagonia
Lago Pehoé
Torres del Paine National Park
Chile
Tel: 56 2 206 6060
www.explora.com

No life list is complete without a visit to Torres del Paine National Park. The Explora Group's aim is exactly that: to make this inaccessible area accessible to the average (moneyed) traveler who neither wants to rough it nor is a super-athlete who's able to sprint up mountains. The group upset nature purists in 1993 when it laid the foundations to Hotel Salto Chico on the shore of Lake Pehoé, bang in the center of the park. The idea of a luxury lodge with true First World amenities and great food was unheard of in the region. (Explora's other properties are in the northern Chilean desert of Atacama and on Easter Island.) Daytime activities range from hikes that begin directly from the hotel, horseback or mountain bike rides, or boating on Lake Pehoé. Everyone returns at the end of the day to indulge in local meats such as slow-roasted lamb, fresh ceviche, and wines picked by the Chilean hotel owner. The property itself, with 50 rooms, is a boxy and modernist-looking structure whose wooden-planked exterior blends into the background. The interior uses a mix of local lenga wood, cypress, and slate, and clever lighting and glass that provide peerless views of the park's totemic granite skewers, the Torres del Paine. Rates include transfers from the Punta Arenas airport (be warned—it's around a five-hour drive along bumpy roads), all food, and unlimited use of guides, vehicles, boats, and horses.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Palafito 1326
1326 Ernesto Riquelme
Palafitos de Gamboa
Castro , Chiloé Island
Chile
Tel: 56 65 530 053
reserva@palafito1326.cl
www.palafito1326.cl

Built among the humble homes of fishermen and craftsmen, this unique 12-room charmer is a modern interpretation of the palafito—a stilted wood house that is a symbol of the unspoiled Chiloé archipelago in southern Chile. Recycled larch shingles and hand-carved doors from the original building complement the traditional wool Chilote blankets and decorative carvings and sculptures. Arrays of windows deliver ample light as well as views of Castro, the capital of Chiloé Province, and its bay, a popular hangout for black-neck swans and kingfishers. Service is simple—just a single attendant at the front desk—but is ultimately forgivable as he or she is ready to stoke the communal fireplace or help you scout out the opening times of Chiloé's UNESCO World Heritage wood-shingle churches.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Remota
Ruta 9 Norte
Puerto Natales
Chile
Tel: 56 2 387 1500
remota.cl

The pretty Patagonian fishing village of Puerto Natales—skuas, petrels, and albatross whirling overhead—is isolated from the rest of Chile by fjords, canals, and inlets, with the peaks of the Torres del Paine park visible just over 40 miles away. Amid this ode to nature, iconoclastic Chilean architect Germàn del Sol has threaded a group of severe edifices, their blackened wood-and-felt exteriors echoing the basalt strata of the Torres del Paine massif: Weight-bearing spars are vertically skewed, giant ventilation shafts protrude, windows are jagged-cut. The 72 ample-sized guest rooms, done in slate and untreated wood with vibrant sunflower-yellow accents, are in structures that zigzag with the sloping ground. A factory-sized building houses the lobby, reading rooms, and restaurant (locally caught seafood is a specialty). The impressive spa includes two ten-person saunas and an infinity pool that reflects Patagonia's constantly changing skies.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Terra Luna Lodge
Camino Chile Chico, Km 1.5
Puerto Guadal
Chile
Tel: 56 2 235 1519
www.terra-luna.cl

This inland lodge sits on the shores of a beautiful lake, Lago General Carrera. Nearby is an immense ice field, the Campos de Hielo Norte, and 13,300-foot Mount San Valentin. We'd say that the Terra Luna Lodge gets full points for location, but, well, don't they all? But we do love this property: Guests have the choice of the main lodge with four "apartments" (two bedrooms and a living room), several separate bungalows, or a stand-alone house. In the heat of summer, it's an ideal setting to put down your travel-jostled bones and muse, Thoreau-like, on nature as you take in the views of the glacier-fed turquoise lake and the ice-carved peaks. Enterprising guests can fish the trout-rich Río Baker or buzz the northern ice field in a small plane, and by night sip a Pisco Sour while frolicking in the waterside hot tub. You can also drive west from the lodge for 30 miles to a knoll where the dense forests of lenga and arrayán open to afford an uninterrupted vista of Mount San Valentín.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.