From its northern desert to the southern Patagonian fjords, the ever-changing Chilean landscape is home to a wealth of accommodations covering all ends of the comfort and luxury spectrum. Chileans are a hospitable bunch and — given the extreme weather differences end to end — coziness is often a top priority. In a country where you can wake up in a mountain ski lodge and go to bed on the beach, you are never too far from a new and unique Chile lodging experience. Read on to learn more about where to stay in Chile.
Luxury Hotels and Boutique Adventure Lodges
As Chile’s capital and a major South American business hub, Santiago is where you will find the bulk of top-end business hotels and trendy boutique properties. Major chain hotels are well represented (Ritz-Carlton, Grand Hyatt, W, InterContinental) while boutique hotels like the Aubrey and Lastarria attract travelers looking for a more intimate local vibe.
Elsewhere in Chile, standard business hotels dominate in bigger cities, but it’s the boutique adventure resorts showcasing Chile’s incredible natural landscapes — especially in and around San Pedro Atacama to the north and Patagonia to the south — where the country truly sets itself apart. Design-forward properties like Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Awasi in San Pedro de Atacama; magical fairy tale-esque accommodations at Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve; and explora Patagonia, Tierra Patagonia and Ecocamp Patagonia in Patagonia are destinations in and of themselves. Most of these lodges specialize in all-inclusive outdoor adventure packages and are isolated in dramatic locations with nothing but nature in all directions.
Hospedajes, Residenciales and Agroturismo
A true joy in Chile is the extensive network of hospedajes (guesthouses; also known as residenciales), which are likely to be your main source of sleeps in smaller towns that aren’t big enough to warrant larger hotels. They may even be your choice in places that do have other options. These down-to-earth accommodations, usually in a family home, are great budget options that feel like sleeping at your grandmother’s house. You can interact with the family, who will carry on about their business as if you are just an old friend coming around for a visit. Breakfast is always included, but it’s rarely more than pan amasado (kneaded bread), butter, homemade marmalades and Nescafe (along with queso de campo, or artisanal cheese, if you’re lucky!).
In really rural areas, Chile has an active agroturismo program in place, which is a similar idea to the hospedajes but in more remote locations where the family is likely to cook all three meals for you, often with produce and meat directly from their own (or their neighbor’s) farms. There is an especially well-rooted network on Chiloe Island, for example. Hospedajes, residenciales and agroturismo definitely offer Chile’s best culture for the peso.
If you are into DIY travel, one of Chile’s most popular options is cabanas, which are self-sustaining cabins — often in pristine locations in and around national parks or other natural settings — that can be a great deal for families or groups of friends. Especially popular with Chileans, these cabins feature fully equipped kitchens and often come with multi-bedroom layouts. There are usually few services beyond reception. If you dig the idea of camping without all the required hassle, cabanas are a very good compromise.
Some of the best wine in the world comes from Chile, with award-winning juice routinely emerging from long-established wine regions like the Maipo, Casablanca and Colchagua Valleys, among many others.
Naturally, in addition to tasting rooms, a few wineries along the way offer restaurants, activities and overnight options. Wineries like Lapostolle (Colchagua), Matetic (Valle del Rosario; our favorite!), Casa Silva (Colchagua) and Santa Rita (Maipo) represent the best of the best, but there are more boutique guesthouses on vineyard properties as well, like J. Bouchon in the up-and-coming Maule Valley. (Note that these accommodations are not always advertised, so call ahead if you’re interested in making arrangements.)
Don’t drink and drive, kids; drink and stumble back to bed!
Chile is the undisputed ski champion in South America, with world-class resorts popping up all over the Andes from Santiago to Patagonia. Many of the most famous and well-established spots are in the vicinity of the capital, like Portillo and Valle Nevado, but there are diversions for powder hounds in up-and-coming resorts farther south — like Corralco at Reserva Malacahuelo-Nalcas near Temuco, the beginner-oriented slopes of Termas de Chillan in Middle Chile and Ski Pucon in Parque Nacional Villarrica.
Whichever you choose, brush up on your Portuguese — these are havens for Brazilian skiers!
–written by Kevin Raub
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