With our travel schedule back to “normal” in 2022, we spent a LOT of nights in hotels. Part 3 of our Best of the Trans-Americas Journey 2022 series of posts reveals our list of top hotels in Argentina and Chile including a mind-blowing suite (the outdoor lounge chairs in your private garden are heated!), beach hotels for every taste, a themed winner, a valuable bargain hunter tip in one of Chile’s most popular destinations, and more. Part 1 in the series covered our Top Adventures of 2022 and part 2 covered the Best Food and Beverages of 2022.
Top hotels in Argentina and Chile 2022
Get your booking finger ready…
Best suite: SB Winemaker’s House & Spa SuitesWe’ve stayed in a lot of amazing suites. None has been anything like the seven glass and metal cubes offered by the new SB Winemaker’s House & Spa Suites in Mendoza, Argentina, which was opened by pioneering winemaker Susana Balbo and her daughter Anna in 2022. All of the elegant suites are enormous with 700 square feet (65 square meters) or 785 square feet (73 square meters) of space and feature distinct color palettes, decor, and artwork. In addition to all of that room in your room, your shower doubles as a sauna (larger master suites have a dry sauna as well), there’s a carved stone soaking tub, a speaker sound system, a retractable TV, and a Toto Washlet toilet. Oh, and don’t forget to take advantage of the most unexpected touch of all: the heated lounge chairs in your suite’s private garden. These suites–combined with the hotel’s service, cuisine, overall style, art collection, and indulgent in-suite spa treatments–make this a game-changer and most certainly one of the top hotels in Argentina.
Best in-room amenities: Explora El ChaltenMany luxury adventure lodges leave outdoorsy gifts for guests in their rooms. It’s become commonplace, for example, to find a branded, refillable, metal water bottle for each person in the room. Like so many things, the Explora group of South American luxury all-inclusive adventure lodges takes things to the next level. During our stay in the new Explora in El Chalten in Argentinean Patagonia we found a small dry bag (perfect for guarding small electronics during sudden downpours on the trail), a complete blister repair kit, and (of course) branded, refillable, water bottles (but theirs are chic matte black and insulated). You’ll also find a boot brush in the closet for getting trail gunk off your hiking boots and Explora’s room slippers (also black) are the only ones Eric will wear. Attention to detail like this should come as no surprise from the Explora group which has, in our opinion, perfected the art of luxury adventure.
Best surprise adventure hotel: AWA HotelWe expected Hotel AWA in Puerto Varas, Chile to have style to spare (thanks to a modern mix of steel, concrete, and glass), an arresting location (on the shore of the second largest lake in Chile with views of the snow-capped Osorno volcano), and great food. What came as a surprise was the range and quality of the outdoor excursions offered to guests. During our stay, we spent full days on challenging trails in nearby national parks to explore the flanks of Osorno Volcano and visit some of the area’s waterfalls. We also got the chance to try out electric bikes for the first time. And we did it all with a knowledgeable and passionate guide who was born in the area.
Best theme hotel: Hotel La Yegua Loca
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: a theme hotel can easily end up being a cheesy mess that just creeps people out. And so we checked into Hotel La Yegua Loca in Punta, Arenas, Chile with some trepidation. This hotel is a self-proclaimed ode to gaucho (Patagonian cowboy) culture which occupies cultural pride of place in southern South America. All rooms are named for an element of gaucho life. For example, we stayed in the El Ovejero (Sheep Herder) room which has a headboard covered in sheepskins and a saddle hung from the ceiling as part of the light fixture. Ponchos and stirrups decorate much of the hotel and the keychains are fluffy sheep. Even the name is gaucho-related: a yegua is a wild mare. But the owners have managed to communicate their gaucho passion without being creepy and they also operate the best restaurant in town. Breakfast for guests is also excellent with six huge set options to choose from including various combinations of eggs, fruit, fresh juice, pancakes, and more plus good coffee and homemade bread.
Best hotel bargain tip: Hotel Lago Grey (in winter)There are not many hotels allowed to operate inside Torres del Paine National Park (which is the second most visited national park in Chile and a top destination in the country). Hotel Lago Grey is one of those elite hotels and its location within spitting distance of Grey Glacier is a winner. This hotel is also one of the few in this part of Patagonia that stays open year-round and savvy travelers should consider booking a room here during the gorgeous fall and winter months when off-season rates drop to bargain levels for a full-service hotel inside this park.
Best hotel bartender: Hotel Mari MariWhen we walked into the main lodge at Hotel Mari Mari, we were greeted by Luis Cerda (pictured above left), the maitre and barmaster at this super-all-inclusive retreat on the Pacific Coast of Chile. He offered us an apple martini and something about his smile and gravitas made us accept, even though we would normally decline this typically overly sweet drink. We were right to trust him. Luis produced a bracing, fresh, not sweet, very naturally apply cocktail that didn’t change our minds about apple martinis but did make us truly respect Luis. The rest of the food and beverage program at Mari Mari is just as buttoned up in the hands of unflappable chef Daniela Flores (pictured above right) who lovingly guides the creation of dishes using traditional Mapuche techniques and ingredients, which are often grown organically in the hotel garden. Come for the food and drink and stay for the ocean views, private hot tubs, and massive villas.
Best movie-lovers beach hotel: Hotel del CineWe admit that we were a bit confused as we walked down a red carpet into Hotel de Cine in Villa Gesell which is a beach community on the Atlantic coast of Argentina about a four-hour drive from Buenos Aires. We finally got it at the reception desk where we were greeted by a life-size cut out of a smiling Leonardo DiCaprio and an “Employee of the Month” plaque behind the front desk showing a picture of Eddie Murphy’s character from “Coming to America”. All rooms are named after movie stars, you can take a selfie standing next to Bradley Cooper and a giant fake Oscar award under movie lights, black and white actor headshots adorn the walls, and there’s a 20-seat movie theater where a different film is screened each night. Other than that slightly over-the-top theme work, this is a pretty standard mid-range beach town hotel where 8,000 pesos (about US$25 at the current blue rate) got us a reasonably clean private double room (Bruce Willis) with a private bathroom, Wi-Fi, parking, breakfast, and use of the teeny tiny pool. Apparently, the same entertainment-crazy owners operate a music-themed hotel in town too…
Best beach-lovers beach hotel: Rincon de CoboWho doesn’t love a private beach house where you get space, style, and serenity all in one package? Strangely, there are not a lot of beach house vacation rental options on the coast near Buenos Aires, Argentina which makes Rincon de Cobo, near the town of Pinamar, even more of a gem. Here you’ll find six different beach houses (soon to be seven) in different styles including a sexy, modern, tiny beach house hideaway for two and a classic whitewashed wooden house with front and back patios and hammocks for up to eight. All of the houses have wood-burning stoves or pellet stoves for heat, an outdoor grill, a fully equipped kitchen, a Wi-Fi router, a TV, outdoor spaces, and sea views as well as easy access to the wide, hard-packed beach that’s suitable for walking and driving along the Atlantic. You may not want to leave.
Best wind-lovers beach hotel: Hotel Punta SerenaNear the coastal town of Curinape, Chile lies Hotel Punta Sirena in a location that’s one of the best places for wind-powered watersports enthusiasts. The wind here is so famous that the url for a wind weather website is permanently displayed near the reception desk of the hotel. You can rent kitesurfing equipment on-site and the hallways leading to guest rooms have rugged hooks for hanging your wetsuit. But you don’t have to be a kiteboarder or windsurfer to enjoy this spot. The beachfront location is lovely (and the wide dark sand beach is great for long walks), the minimalist and angular design of the two-level hotel is striking, all rooms have sea views, the hotel pool is inviting, and guests get the use of one of four outdoor beachfront hot tubs for an hour each day of their stay.
Best architecture: Tierra Chiloé Hotel & SpaAll three of the Tierra hotels in Chile offer arresting architecture and design that create a memorable first impression. The Tierra Chiloé Hotel & Spa, on Chiloé Island in southern Chile, packs a wallop with delicate angles, stilted elegance, lots of glass (to take full advantage of expansive coastal views), and gorgeous use of natural materials (Eric thinks the structure looks like inverted boats). The easy beauty was even more impressive when we learned that the hotel was originally built as just one of its two wings. The second wing was added after the Tierra group purchased the property and expanded it. This addition was done so seamlessly that we never would have guessed that both wings weren’t designed and constructed together.
Best city escape: Hotel Pura LodgeBig cities are great. Big city escape hotels are better. Hotel Pura Lodge, above a lake in a forest on the outskirts of the city of Concepcion, Chile fulfills that need for locals and for travelers with 10 boxy split-level rooms on stilts with mountain and lake views, driftwood art, the sound of wind in the pines, and the sight of black neck swans on the lake. It’s hard to believe that the big city of Concepcion is just a few miles away…
Best hotel breakfast: Hotel Refugio PullaoThere are many reasons to seek out Hotel Refugio Pullao on Chiloe Island in Chile including the chance to appreciate their small but important private reserve, the ability to easily see many species of birds, the simple comforts of their six rooms, and the eclectic architecture of the place that’s meant to create a nest-like look and feel. They also serve a mean breakfast that relies on many delicious hyper-local ingredients including farm fresh eggs, homemade yogurt, fresh juice, homemade jam, local butter, local cheese, homemade bread, good coffee, homemade granola, and a lovely mixed fruit salad. These simple but high-quality ingredients create a delicious experience and also a taste of the place.
Best round rooms: Patagonia CampPatagonia Camp is the only place offering luxury yurts near Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. They’ve got 20 specially-designed round yurts placed on a forested hillside that slopes down to Lake Toro. All of the yurts have wood floors, central heating, a skylight, a fully modern bathroom, well-appointed beds with handmade wooden headboards, big picture windows, sheepskin rugs, robes, and slippers. It’s worth the splurge to go for a Deluxe Jacuzzi yurt which also has a private outdoor Jacuzzi from which to best enjoy views over the lake and beyond to the Torres del Paine massif in the distance.
Here’s more about travel in Argentina
Here’s more about travel in Chile
Here’s more about Hotels in the Americas