Arakur hotel, Ushuaia, Argentina review: The luxurious hotel at the end of the world

Our rating

4.5 out of 5

It's the end of the world as we know it. But here you'll feel fine.

The place

Arakur, Ushuaia

The location

It's the end of the world - Ushuaia is the southernmost city on the planet, located on the tip of South America on the island of Tierra del Fuego. The setting is spectacular, with the Martial mountain range to the north and the Beagle Channel to the south. The city is a key departure point for cruises to the Antarctic, passing through the channel and on to the wild Drake Passage on for a two-day journey to the frozen continent. This is the shortest sea route to Antarctica, which makes it highly popular.

The space

Sitting atop a hill 250 metres above sea level on a private nature reserve, overlooking the city and harbour, the views from the hotel cannot be beaten. The open-plan, wood and stone finish of the lobby and bar offer the feel of a luxury lodge. The dark corridors leading to the rooms, on the other hand, are lit from below, rather than above, creating a calming effect similar to entering a spa.

The views are also on offer in the bar, the downstairs restaurant and the gym. There is an indoor pool and an outdoor hot tub, the latter perched on the edge of the hill, making it a dramatic spot to take a dip. It's heated too, which is welcome when you're this far south (it's cold!).

The hotel has made efforts to blend in with its environment and be eco-friendly, with geothermal cooling and a rainwater collection system.

The room

The room is dominated, as it should be, by the enormous window that grants access to the view. From here, you can watch the sun sparkle off the water or see rainbows appear after a downpour (Ushuaia is not short of rain). You'll also be able to watch the cruise ships as  they come and go from their Antarctic journeys.

My double superior room is spacious, with a bathroom that features a large window looking back into the room and the view beyond, so you can continue to enjoy the vista from the bath or even the shower. It's worth noting, however, that not all rooms face the ocean. Some of the 131 rooms face the mountains, which can also be nice, but it's not the same (though these rooms are cheaper).

The service is good too - for example, the bellman goes through in detail all the various switches with me while showing me the room (on many occasions I've struggled to figure out how to turn particular lights off in some hotels, given the abundance - and occasionally hidden nature - of switches).

There are USB and HDMI slots in the wall connected to the television - ideal for guests who have just returned from Antarctica or Patagonia trips with spectacular wildlife or landscape shots wanting to see them on the big screen.

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The only negative is that noise seems to carry very easily from room to room - a screaming child and noisy parents across the hall comes through loud and clear. The checkout time is also quite early by modern standards: 10am.

The food

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but due to a conference booking I'm unable to get a table for lunch, instead opting for a club sandwich in the bar. For dinner, the restaurant offers an extensive buffet (naturally with a wide selection of meats - it may be the end of the earth, but it is still Argentina) as well as a la carte. The local specialty in Ushuaia is king crab and I opt for a rich king crab and mascarpone risotto. In town, king crab is available in many restaurants served whole and taking up half a table. Breakfast is an extensive buffet.

Stepping out

If you're in Ushuaia, you're likely stepping out on to a ship bound for Antarctica, but while you're here, it's worth exploring the town and surrounds. The hotel runs a regular free shuttle bus down to the waterfront and from here the city can easily be explored on foot. The Maritime Museum is well worth a visit, featuring plenty of information about the exploration of Antarctica. It's also on the site of the city's former prison, and there's equally fascinating information about how this rugged land was settled by convicts. Behind the Arakur there are numerous walking tracks, including a hike up to a glacier, which you can do alone or with a guide from the hotel.

The verdict

It's not surprising to find that the Arakur is often rated the no.1 hotel in Ushuaia by TripAdvisor, as well as the sixth best in Argentina. For travellers returning from an exhausting trip to the southern continent, there's no better place to rest for a day or two and recharge, all the while continuing to enjoy sea views without seasickness. The service and comfort, along with the views, make the Arakur a great place to experience the end of the world.

How to get there

LAN flies from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland with connections to Ushuaia. http://www.lan.com

See and Do

The South America Travel Centre can create tailor-made itineraries including accommodation, transfers, activities and domestic travel across the continent. See http://southamericatravelcentre.com.au

Essentials

Rooms at the Arakur start from $US324 per night. See http://www.arakur.com or phone + 54 (2901) 44 2900

The writer travelled as a guest of the South America Travel Centre and LAN.

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