My trip to Patagonia to explore Torres del Paine National Park was during the shoulder season in between late winter and early spring which meant many of the hotels were actually not yet open. Having reserved Hotel Altiplanico Bellas Artes in Santiago and enjoying my stay there, I was looking forward to staying at their sister property in Puerto Natales.
Upon receiving my rental Nissan X-Trail, I made the drive from the airport to Puerto Natales, stopping first at a grocery store in Punta Arenas to get some snacks and water. The drive took me slightly more than 2 hours as I stopped along the way to take some photos since the scenery was just mesmerizing.
The hotel itself is not located in the town of Puerto Natales but it is easy to find due to its distinctive architecture facing the bay and the main road that connects the town and Torres del Paine National Park. Do take note that the road leading to the car park is a gravel road, thus cars with low ground clearance are probably not the best vehicle to drive in this part of the world.
Since it was still low in season, the hotel was practically quite empty and the lone receptionist was waiting for me inside the hotel. But not before I was greeted by the dogs that they keep and it was a nice welcome by the owner’s dogs! I believe there was one other couple that stayed in the property during the same time I was there and another couple arrived just one night before I departed.
Entering the hotel gives the feeling of visiting a rustic mountain lodge and there is a small boutique across from the reception desk, along with a lounge with magazines. Beside the reception desk lies the main dining room where breakfast is served. The restaurant also opens for dinner and can pack sandwiches and light meals for guests to bring with them while exploring the region. Parking is complimentary and there should be adequate spaces for the 22 rooms that the hotel has.
Check-in was a very comprehensive affair as the receptionist showed me around the property and escorted me to the room. The hotel is built to suit the surroundings here and comprises of 2 main tiers of rooms connected by a central corridor with the lobby and reception being the highest tier. Each tier has a total of 11 rooms.
Room No: 16 Category: Double Room
My room was the first room on the left at the first tier after going down from the corridor. There is a sort of foyer on entry with a small alcove that also acts like a walk in closet which includes clothes hangers, shelving space and even an ironing board.
Directly across from the door is the bathroom which actually has windows overlooking bay. The first thing you see in the bathroom is the vanity counter with the sink. A small partition hides the toilet on the left while the walk-in shower was behind the vanity counter.
For privacy, there are blinds that could close the windows and there is a heated towel rack that makes sense considering the cold weather here. Like its sister property the shower amenities are placed in large containers, though they are of a different scent/brand. It was alright to use and for such a small boutique hotel in a remote area, I figured this is the best way to provide bath amenities for guests.
The bedroom itself does have more flair than the bathroom with a queen sized bed occupying the middle of the room with 2 side tables. While I booked a double room, I am not sure if I received an upgrade since the bed was quite large and should sleep 2 comfortably. By the bed there is a rattan mat that also serves to keep the legs warm since the tiles on the floor can be cold in the morning.
There is a long bench at the end that acts as a luggage stand and an armchair draped with a wool throw. The whole ambience is warm and comfortable in such extreme cold weather in Patagonia! There is also a desk with a stool at the corner of the room. On the desk, there are 2 glasses and a waste paper basket underneath.
It was not a fancy luxurious room since it lacks a television but it does have a telephone by the bedside. There are also ample power plugs by the bedside, the desk and the luggage bench. Furthermore, the charm of this room lies in the numerous handmade furnishings like the ceiling lights, the wooden standing light by the chair and the rich wood panels on the wall.
And with the way the hotel was designed, all rooms get a very nice view of the bay that is just across the hotel. There is no better way to just relax by the chair with the wool throw and experience the changing landscape out from the window. Not to mention the spectacular sunrise and sunset which makes it better than having a TV in the room!
Staying here felt a lot like my experience in Altiplanico Bellas Artes since breakfast was also included. And the restaurant was a very nice space with lots of windows to take advantage of the views. While the breakfast spread was not a lot, there was not much guests staying in the hotel. In fact only on one of the mornings did I actually meet another guest having breakfast with me.
Breakfast choices were mostly continental options like cold cuts and cheese with bread. Other choices includes some sweet tarts and cookies. The hot selections is usually some sausages and mini fried omelettes.
There was also yogurt, cereal and fruits along with several juices.
The selection for breakfast was a bit similar to that of its sister property and enough to fill me up comfortably. In fact I would just pack some energy bar and snacks for lunch during my excursions into the national park after breakfast.
Since I am reviewing the food here, I should mention I had dinner at the hotel on one of the night. Prices charged by the hotel was reasonable and not more expensive than the top restaurants in town.
While there was a daily selection set menu, there was also a limited a-la-carte menu. In fact I had a 3 course meal here, starting with a pumpkin soup.
The soup was very tasty and presentation of the dish was similar to a top notch restaurant with a thin layer of foam.
For the main course, I had a seafood risotto which was again perfect. There was a lot of seafood including shrimps, octopus and scallops and the overall taste was sweet and savoury, since the ingredients were all fresh.
Dessert was a calafate panna cotta which is made from a berry-like fruit native to Patagonia. This dessert made me like calafate since it is similar to blueberry in taste. If you just have drinks in the hotel bar, they also make a nice rendition of the calafate sour, which is similar to pisco sour except using the juice of the calafate berry.
With all 3 dishes being equally good, the meal I had in the hotel was actually my favourite one during my trip to Patagonia.
Aside from the bar and restaurant, the hotel has a large outdoor area and a hot tub which I did not use since it was really a bit too cold for it. There is also a TV lounge at the lowest tier which has a door that opens out to the huge lawn and garden. The TV lounge is a pretty nice place to chill as you can count the traffic that whizzes by. In addition, since there is no individual TVs in the rooms, this would be the place to be for couch potatoes.
There is also a reading lounge by the reception area to do some reading or to maybe socialize with other guests during the peak summer season.
Another reason why this hotel gets high praise from me is from the staff who were all smiles as they try to make me feel welcome. Some small touches they did includes giving me a plate of nuts while I ordered drinks one night even when I did not dine there. Then, they provided me with information on where to go for dinner, even providing a list and location of the favourite places in town. In addition, they also helped in making bookings for activities like horse-back riding. The staff just made my stay here perfect!
I paid a rate of C$124 (~$90) per night for a total of 3 nights with breakfast inclusive and I thought that was a great rate for such a beautiful boutique property. Even if you do not fancy staying here after this review, I still recommend dropping by for dinner!
In fact, I loved nearly all aspects of this property. From the architecture, the decor to the friendly service, staying here feels like staying in a lovely vacation home. This was perhaps my favourite property that I stayed in while in Chile and ranks high as one of the best hotels I visited.