The Atacama Desert region of northern Chile has gone from a barely known tourism region to one of the hotspots in South America, especially for upscale adventure travelers. It’s a common stop for people coming overland from Bolivia or Argentina and it’s a stop on many tours that explore the whole skinny country of Chile from top to bottom.
Because of this, the area is blessed with one of the best clusters of top-end hotels in the country, all within a few miles of each other. Alto Atacama feels like it’s all alone in the countryside, but in fact is just a short bike or van ride from the center of San Pedro.
This is the place to come if you want to get the desert experience all the time, not just on excursions. In a narrow valley with rocky cliffs on both sides, rooms and public areas have views that glow in various shades of brown, red, and orange as the sun changes position. With only native plants on site and little to mar the views from the low-slung buildings, it’s like a desert camp with air-con.
While Alto Atacama offers the expected adventure excursions to the usual spots, handled with a high level of service and comfortable transportation, here the guests who are more interested in hanging out than hiking enjoy the facilities. There’s an excellent full-blown spa on site and a series of swimming pools with different temperatures. The warm and cozy lounge with fireplace is an easy place to sink into for hours.
The hotel also gets high marks for its cuisine, which emphasizes locally sourced ingredients when possible. Good Chilean wines accompany meals best described as “Mediterranean meets the Andes” and the chef really shines with dessert selections.
Rooms here are a cut above most others in San Pedro, larger and with a private furnished terrace for each. The biggest ones also have an outdoor shower.
See more photos and our full detailed review of Alto Atacama Hotel and Spa in Chile.