Tierra Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Chile hotel review: Luxury in one of the wildest places on earth

Our rating

4.5 out of 5

The place

Tierra Patagonia, Chile

The location

Overlooking Chile's spectacular Torres del Paine National Park, the Tierra Patagonia is nestled on a hillside on the edge of the vast Lake Sarmiento. The four-hour drive from the town of Punta Arenas starts off bleak, through flat lowlands buffeted by howling winds. But the scenery becomes increasingly spectacular as you approach through hills and valleys through a vista so vast you can see the clouds and the shadows they cast in their entirety.

The space

Originally planned to be double its current size, the owners decided to limit it to 40 rooms to maintain a boutique feel. The long, flat design of the building blends into the landscape. Indeed, from a distance it is almost invisible. Making fine use of natural materials, the hand-crafted wooden furnishings and textiles offers of a feeling of being at one with the environment. The open plan lounge, bar and restaurant offer an opportunity to mingle with other guests while enjoying the views across the lake to the national park which are nothing short of incredible. The constantly changing weather means the view never remains the same for more than a view minutes. One guest describes it, accurately, as a slow moving television show that one can sit all day watching.

The room

I'm fortunate enough to be treated to one of the Tierra's three suites - split level spaces covering 51 square meters, with one enormous floor-to-ceiling two-storey window for enjoying the view. The room is immaculate, with a king-sized bed, upstairs living area and a large bathroom (which also features a long, shallow window so you need not miss out on the view while taking a bath) with L'Occitane toiletries. There is no TV or internet access in the room (wi-fi is available in the common areas) but if you're missing these while staying here, you're missing the point.

Comfort factor

The bed is extremely comfortable but the highlight of the room is waking up in the morning to be greeted by the the sun hitting the peaks of Torres del Paine. Patagonia's weather is notoriously changeable, from hot to cold and back again in the space of a day, but the room offers a sun blind to keep the temperature down during the day, but adequate heating to keep it cosy at night. There are sheepskin rugs to keep your feet warm from the wooden floorboards, while the deep bath comes with a wooden caddy to keep your toiletries, or reading materials, handy while you take a soak. The only minor inconvenience is having to get up and down the stairs so often, particularly when you're as forgetful as I can be before heading out on an excursion.

The food

The Tierra Patagonia is an all-inclusive accommodation, with three-course meals offered for lunch and dinner each day. The are three different options for mains each night, including delicious local lamb and fish. Breakfast is a buffet, though as is typically the case across much of South America, the full English option is replaced by cold cuts. As many guests are likely to be out exploring the national park on tours during the day, the hotel also provides packed lunches with sandwiches and snacks to keep energy levels up while out on hikes.

Stepping out

As much as it is wonderful to sit and look at the view of Torres del Paine, eventually you'll want to actually explore that view from the inside. The Tierra has a huge range of excursions available for guests, all included, with guided tours taking in a wide range of hikes of varying difficulties. A highlight for me is the full day hike to the trio of sharp peaks known as the 'three towers' that jut above a glacial lake. The hotel also includes transfers into the park and we stop regularly to see wildlife, including flocks of flamingos, the small, emu-like rheas, Guanacos (related to llamas) and even a few armadillos. There are also pumas in the park, though I'm not fortunate enough to spot any (though guests on another excursion during my stay see a mother and two cubs).

The verdict

The Tierra Patagonia offers exceptional luxury and comfort in one of the wildest places on earth. With its spectacular views, excellent food and included tours, this is an easy way to see one of the world's most beautiful and rugged national parks without having to rough it - far, far from it in fact.

How to get there

LAN flies from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland with connections to Punta Arenas. The hotel will transfer guests from the airport. See http://www.lan.com

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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 Tierra Patagonia start from $US2250 ($A3200) for three nights, double occupancy, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, an open bar and daily guided excursions into the national park, as well as transfers.

See http://www.tierrahotels.com/ for more details.

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