Living on the road means plenty of nights in plenty of hotels. They’re not all winners, for sure, but our list of top hotels 2023 includes 13 stunners in Chile and Argentina including national park lodges, riverside glamping, a luxury all-inclusive wine hotel, a spot-on hostel, and more. Welcome to Part 3 of our annual “Best of” series of posts. Part 2 covered the Best Food & Beverages of the year and Part 1 revealed the Best Adventures of 2023.
Top Hotels 2023 in Chile & Argentina
These hotels in Chile and Argentina provided the most notable sleeps (and much more) of the year. See why each one of our top hotels 2023 is worth considering as part of your own South American travel plans.
Best hobbit-sized cabins: Lodge Caleta Gonzalo, Pumalin National Park, ChileKris and Doug Tompkins, pioneering conservationists and creators of the Tompkins Conservation organization, loved the land that would eventually become the Pumalin Doug Tompkins National Park so much that they completed their first park infrastructure projects there, including Lodge Caleta Gonzalo. This collection of seven shingled cottage-style rooms and a restaurant is located just a few yards from where the ferry docks. The setting is stunning with accommodations right on the Reñihué Fjord (the Cisne room has the very best views). All cottages feature rustic wool blankets, lots of wood, black and white photos of flora and fauna, and brass fixtures and all seem to have been designed for hobbits with small spaces, low ceilings (thanks to sleeping lofts over the main bedroom), and teeny tiny bathrooms. It’s charming, but tight. Learn more about exploring this stunning area, including hiking and camping, in our post about exploring Pumalin National Park.
Best glamping: Matapiojo Lodge, Futaleufú, ChileThough created with trout fishermen in mind, Matapiojo Lodge, located 26 miles (42 km) from the town of Futaleufú, has a lot to offer non-fishers including three glamping tents imported from Montana and modified to withstand Patagonia’s infamous wind and weather. Each roomy riverfront tent has electricity, wonderful beds (tents are configured with single beds since most guests are fishermen bunking together), a wood-burning stove, and an adjacent bathroom add-on with a shower, sink, and toilet. The river glides by as quietly as the condors that are often soaring overhead. Matapiojo (the word means dragonfly in Spanish) is located on a tranquil section of river that’s cool, calm, and swimable and the lodge remains open year-round. Horseback riding, bird watching, and other non-fishing excursions can be arranged for guests who aren’t angling for trout. For more about exploring this area of southern Chile, see our post about travel to Futaleufú.
Best wine lovers’ luxury all-inclusive: The Residence at Clos Apalta Winery, Colchagua Valley, ChileThere’s no denying that after staying in many of the best hotels in Latin America, we are spoiled when it comes to luxury accommodation. And yet, the newly renovated and expanded offerings of The Residence at Clos Apalta Winery in the Colchagua Valley of Chile got our attention. Months of work in 2023 resulted in a new gym (with sauna and jacuzzi) and the addition of six new 1,100 square foot (100 square meter) standalone casitas bringing the total to 10 scattered at discreet distances along a hillside. Above and beyond details include self-defogging bathroom mirrors, not one but two styles of slippers, extremely attentive staff members, a private patio plunge pool new casita patios, a lovely infinity-edge pool over the vines, and a restaurant, helmed by local chef Leonel Diaz, that turns out food that has helped this luxury wine country hotel earn Relais & Chateaux status every year since 2011 (this was the first Relais & Chateaux hotel in Chile). Dishes like warm grilled prawns with local salt, mint, cucumber, and apple gazpacho topped with bacon dust are stunners, however, the most notable luxury at The Residence is access to exclusive wines from the Clos Apalta line, many of which are only served at The Residence. In addition to an aperitif, a somm-selected bottle (some fetching hundreds of dollars in wine shops) is opened at lunch and at dinner to pair with the meal and to further your knowledge of the winery. This is just one more attention-grabbing reason why wine-loving travelers might never want to leave.
Best broaden your horizons hotel: Mapu Lodge, Futaleufú, ChileGustavo and Patricia, owners of Mapu Lodge, don’t call their creation a hotel and it’s not. Part personal Shangrila (the couple lives on site with their children), part chic retreat, part inspirational immersion, Mapu, located 7.5 miles (12 km) from the town of Futaleufú, offers four standalone cabins (from a 700 square foot/65 square meter fully-equipped tiny home to petite one-room hideaways) on a hilly and forested piece of land on Lago Lonconao. There’s elegance at every turn (the style and taste of the photographer/model pair is evident in the materials, finishes, amenities, and all touches). But the real draw and point of difference of Mapu is ethereal: created for people interested in external and internal journeys, a stay at Mapu is a chance to meet Gustavo and Patricia, try on their alternative lifestyle and, just maybe, see a version of your own re-creation. Of course, there are also plenty of ways to simply relax at Mapu Lodge, including SUPing and canoeing on the lake, reading in the lodge’s triangular steel common building, or soaking in the outdoor wood-fired hot tub. For more about Mapu Lodge, and more about exploring this area of southern Chile, see our post about travel to Futaleufú.
Best bathrobes: Tipiliuke Lodge, San Martin de los Andes, ArgentinaTipiliuke Lodge, a luxury all-inclusive lodge about 22 miles (35 km) from the town of San Martin de los Andes in southern Argentina, gets many things right. Meals are gourmet affairs. Activities include world-class fly fishing, gaucho-guided horseback riding, wildlife viewing and photography on the property, tango classes, and more. Services include a spa, a yoga room, an outdoor hot tub, and a bodywork specialist. And stylish rooms are well-appointed and come stocked with the best hotel amenity of 2023: poncho bathrobes (pictured above right). We’ve never seen this clever (and comfortable) reinvention before but we’re fans now. For more about exploring this part of northern Patagonia, see our post about travel to San Martin de los Andes.
Best hostel: Hosteria El Mosco, Villa O’Higgins, ChileThe town of Villa O’Higgins lies at the southernmost end of the Carretera Austral making it a must-stop milestone for travelers (like us) who are driving this iconic road in Chile. We were not expecting many services or facilities in this small and remote town, but we were wrong. O’Higgins is home to an outstanding hostel called Hosteria El Mosco which offers a wide range of accommodations from camping to shared dorm rooms to private doubles (42,000 CLP/about US$47) to multi-bedroom cabins (65,000 CLP/about US$73). Some private rooms include a very nice breakfast which features home-baked treats. All facilities are spotless and there’s an ample parking area, a laundry service (6,000 CLP/about US$7 for a 13 lb./6 kilo load), and extremely helpful and friendly management.
Best luxury national park lodge: Explora Patagonia National Park, ChileWe were thrilled when we heard that the Explora group–creators of our favorite all-inclusive luxury adventure lodges in Chile, Argentina, and Peru–was taking over management of the Valle Chacabuco Lodge (which was created by Kris and Doug Tompkins of Tompkins Conservation) inside Patagonia National Park just off the Carretera Austral in southern Chile. Now known as Explora Patagonia National Park Lodge, this luxury basecamp offers a range of room types with fresh interior design and enormous windows that make the most of valley views and elevate the outdoor chic ambiance. The lodge restaurant delivers a food and wine experience designed by the team behind chart-topping Don Julio restaurant in Buenos Aires, and highly trained guides are on hand to tailor your activities within this stunning park from an extensive menu of excursions. All-inclusive rates make it easy to say yes to everything. Learn more about this hotel inside Patagonia National Park in our full review of Explora Patagonia National Park Lodge for Luxury Latin America.
Best true hideaway: Fundo Los Leones Lodge, Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda, ChileDo you like peace and quiet? Do you like solitary beach walks? Do you like seeing dolphins and penguins just outside your door? Then Fundo Los Leones Lodge, about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) before you reach the town of Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda off the Carretera Austral in southern Chile, is for you. The lodge is part of a 2,470-acre (1,000-hectare) reserve established by Doug and Kris Tompkins in 1995 as an early act of conservation through their Tompkins Conservation organization. As they did with many of their protected areas, the Tompkins built well-crafted cabins on the property for themselves and their guests. At Fundo Los Leones Lodge, these accommodations include five stylishly cozy shingled cabins facing the Piti Palena Fjord. An excellent true American breakfast is available at an additional cost and is served in a homey and very well-equipped standalone kitchen which guests can use to prepare their own meals as well. The grounds also include an outdoor wood-fired hot tub facing the fjord and lots of rolling lawns. Kayaks are available for tooling around the fjord and the 6-mile (10 km) private beach is lovely and walkable. You’ll likely see plenty of marine birds including ibis, lapwings, and oystercatchers as you wander along the light grey sand. We also saw dolphins and Humboldt penguins in the tranquil fjord in water so calm that it seemed like a lake. For more about Fundo Los Leones and more highlights from this region–including wildlife and hiking–see our post about travel to Puerto Raul Marin Balmaceda.
Best hotel that leads by example: Pata Lodge, Futaleufú, Chile“At some point, you wonder if people really need to buy more things,” says Marcelo Schaffer, co-creator of Pata Lodge who worked in advertising and marketing before focusing on the Pata concept which was fine-tuned by a group of friends who realized that if they wanted a different lifestyle for themselves and their families they’d have to create it. Now they’re promoting simple pleasures and passionate impact for themselves and for guests of Pata Lodge. Located 5 miles (8 km) from the town of Futaleufú, the Pata project has grown to 75 acres (30 hectares) that Marcelo and his partners are mostly rewilding except for areas devoted to organic farming and land where the common area/restaurant, three standalone cabins, and two full houses for tourists are located. “When you change what you are promoting with your life everything changes,” Marcelo adds and that’s an ethos you can see, feel, and taste at Pata Lodge. For more about Pata Lodge, and more about exploring this area of southern Chile, see our post about travel to Futaleufú.
Best key chain: Peuma Lodge, Futaleufú, ChileThe charming hand-carved and hand-painted wooden keychains depicting different species of bird (which nest in tiny birdhouses when not in use) should not have come as a surprise. At Peuma Lodge, located 15 miles (24 km) outside the town of Futaleufú on the Carretera Austral in southern Chile, attention to detail matters–from the always-ready outdoor hot tubs to the homemade bread on the breakfast buffet to the mountain views from each of the nine spacious rooms. Ruben (from the Netherlands ) and his Chilean wife Carolina (whose father created the place), manage this homey and family-friendly lodge well and the addition of a new 2-bedroom/3-bathroom standalone house is more good news for families and groups. For more about Peuma Lodge, and more about exploring this area, see our post about travel to Futaleufú.
Best tub with a view: Vik Chile, Millahue, ChileThe architecture and art collection of Vik Chile is well-documented. But this 29-room wine country hotel at the Vik Winery still has a few unsung surprises up its sleeve. For example, walk into the spacious bathroom within the Vik Master Suite, which the hotel’s owner helped decorate, and you’ll be confronted with a black, hammock-shaped, carbon-fiber bathtub that seems to be floating in front of a wall of windows that allow for views of the vines and the valley below.
Best historic hotel: Hotel Casa Real, Maipo Valley, ChileBuilt in the late 1880s, this private residence, within a 100-acre (40-hectare) private park that requires a small army of gardeners to maintain, was converted into a hotel in 1995. The park, which features hundred-year-old trees, lagoons, black-necked swans, Roman baths, a boxwood labyrinth, and plenty of sculptures, is now a National Historic Monument along with the hotel building. The hotel and garden are both part of the Santa Rita Winery which is the second largest producer of wine in Chile. The 16 rooms at Hotel Casa Real have been upgraded where it counts (beds, bathrooms) but much historic charm is left including creaky wood floors and furniture, vast sitting areas and porches, a parlor with a pool table, portraits galore, and massive drapes. Sitting on the wide back patio overlooking the garden with a glass of wine feels like stepping back in time to an era when the original owners may have passed a few pleasant hours the same way.
Best hotel to…: Reset Elqui, Alcoguaz, Elqui Valley, ChileWe were reeling from some devastating news when we checked into Reset Elqui at the end of the Elqui Valley near the tranquil town of Alcoguaz. It didn’t take long for the healing vibe of this aptly named 3-room hideaway to help us begin resetting. Maybe it was the silence. Maybe it was the dazzling night sky. Maybe it was the “Elqui energy” or the energy from the caring and creative hotel owners. Maybe it was the Tibetan prayer flags adorning the outdoor shower off our Astrocabin (so named because of its enormous skylight for sky-watching). Whatever it was, we checked out in much better shape than when we checked in.
Best hotel cooking class: Spring Creek Lodge, Junin de los Andes, ArgentinaSpring Creek Lodge, run by SET Fly Fishing which operates lodges in many of the best fishing destinations in Argentina, is a dream destination for fly fishers in search of big trout. However, Spring Creek also has a lot to offer non-fishing guests (like us) including guided bird watching on their property plus off-site adventures like kayaking and horseback riding. Guests also have the chance to learn to make traditional Argentinean empanadas from the lodge’s super-talented chef Federico Castro during one-on-one cooking classes and we highly recommend it. Fede loves to cook and it shows (especially when he’s de-coring garlic and explaining why fat is so important to empanadas), and the resulting batch of empanadas were delicious–though Karen’s did not look quite as pretty as Fede’s.
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