While it’s the off-season in Patagonia as I write this and you can’t hop on a plane and fly to Chile, we’ve been updating some of our older reviews from the region to assist you with your travel planning for the future. When we can move around again but are looking for wide-open spaces, it’ll be hard to top the Torres del Paine region at the bottom of South America for a distanced adventure.
We got back to the original luxury adventure lodge in the region that’s right in the national park, then returned to one we had not set foot in since soon after they opened. Here’s a quick take on each of them that are well worth considering. Click through to the full reviews to see a more detailed rundown and more photos from this adventure travel playground—even if you just want to walk around and enjoy the views.
Explora Patagonia in Torres del Paine
The explora group of Chile has expanded organically over the years from when they first built this lodge in a stunning location in the Torres del Paine National Park. With an opening date of 1993, this property is heading for its 30th birthday as others in the region are still toddlers. They’ve had plenty of time to tweak and refine the operation over the years. Plus they’ve learned from subsequent openings in Rapa Nui, Atacama, and the Sacred Valley. (We can look forward to another one next year near El Chalten, Argentina.)
You could say that explora was the first to really offer a luxury all-inclusive package in the Americas that was focused on adventure excursions rather than just ordering cocktails from a lounge chair. You could be forgiven for wanting to spend part of your time in a lounge chair though when the property has a view like this:
It would be a shame to be this close to these Patagonian peaks and not do a bit of exploring though, which is easy here since one trip a day is included in the rates. You can hike, go horseback riding, take a boat trip, or many other activities (from 40 on offer) with some of the best-trained and most experienced guides in Chile.
You’ll eat well while you’re here and have a cocktail or Chilean wine of your choice at hand when you want in the evenings. When it’s time for a well-deserved rest, you’ll do more than bunk down.
All rooms are stylish, simple, and plush. The bathroom amenities are luscious and there are plenty of drawers and closets for unpacking and settling in. Lovely Moulie chocolates are a highlight at turn down and your lovely in-room amenity is a collection of small hardcover books. One covers the natural features of Patagonia, one covers the cultural history of Patagonia, and the third is a blank travel journal. Nice touch. There are no TVs in any of the rooms at explora Patagonia. That would be an insult to the view.
This is one of the most eco-friendly hotels you could stay at in South America and one where you won’t see much of anything that gets thrown away.
See our full review of explora Patagonia hotel, once known as “Salto Chico” after the nearby waterfall.
The Singular Patagonia
We checked out The Singular Patagonia Hotel soon after it opened in 2011 (then their second one in Santiago a few years later). The main building structure goes way back though. Officially designated as a national historic site, it functioned as a meat processing plant and cold storage facility to serve what was the main industry in the region: sheep farming.
You can order lamb in one of the two restaurants if you want to stick with the theme, but you’ll also get regular reminders of the heritage in the industrial-chic decor in the public areas. Take a tour of the facility to learn more and see a lot of the original machinery in place. The wing where the rooms are located is newer, but the architect took cues from the original building elements in some of the design touches.
The property is located near Puerto Natales, facing Last Hope Bay and mountains beyond. The 57 rooms all take full advantage of the view, including an armchair facing the window wall in the standards, a living room set facing it in the suites. The indoor-outdoor pool also comes with a view and you can walk around the grounds and by the lake to change up the view.
The property is about a 40-minute drive from Torres del Paine National Park, so you won’t be right in the middle of nature like you are at explora. You’re closer to the airport and other dining choices here, however, plus The Singular has plenty of its own excursions for you to enjoy.
The most emblematic excursion offered by the hotel combines a boat tour through fjords and past glaciers in the hotel’s own boat. An early departure helps ensure that Singular guests reach these natural wonders before other tour boats arrive. The second half of this tour includes a visit to one of two nearby estancias for a traditional asado (barbecue) lunch and the chance to go hiking or horseback riding on the estancia property.
Our correspondent wasn’t as impressed by the cuisine as she was with the terrific service and stunning design throughout. This is a common lament in this region, unfortunately, but hopefully one they will work on with a few system and procedure changes to live up to the rest of the many positives.
See our full review of Singular Patagonia in Chile.