From its snow-capped Andean peaks and duney deserts, to its sweeping valleys and lush rainforests, South America’s extreme landscapes are home to an array of arresting accommodation options. Whether you’re traveling solo, with a family, as a special romantic getaway, or simply seeking adventure, when it comes to spectacular places to stay in South America, travelers are spoilt for choice.
To help you decide where to stay on your vacation, here are our hand-selected collection (in no particular order) of the continent’s most unique and magnificent boutique hotels.
Luxurious hospitality, farming, and environmentalism all come hand in hand in the Caiman Ecological Refuge – a stunning hotel in Brazil’s expansive Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland and an area of pristine and abundant wildlife. The refuge is also a working ranch with a strong interest in conservation, and as well as promoting the wonders of the region and championing traditional ways of life, the accommodation itself is outstanding. Those traveling with families in tow might consider this one, as kids will adore the proximity to wild and domestic animals. There are 3 different lodging choices available and 26 rooms in total, making the perfect cozy base to return to after a long day of jaguar safaris or kayaking on the flooded grasslands of the Pantanal.
Charming ‘casita’ houses individually decorated and built of local stone make Sol y Luna stand out from the rest. This resort nestles in the hills of the Sacred Valley, a short train ride from Aguas Calientes (with easy access to Machu Picchu), and with several Inca settlements on its doorstep. Surrounded by tropical gardens full of butterflies and hummingbirds, the hotel has a gorgeous naturalistic pool and plenty of greenery.
Two hours by road from Quito, Hacienda Zuleta is a country estate of a vast 5,200 acres. Blessed by gorgeous hiking trails, a temperate year-round climate, and even its own breed of horse (known as Zuleteños), this high-class hotel has whitewashed buildings with stately timber beams and soft furnishings – the ultimate rural retreat.
Architecturally stunning, Tierra Atacama exudes rustic chic, a remote lodge in the Atacama Desert in Chile (the driest desert in the world), making the perfect retreat for exploring the nearby salt flats, geysers, volcano, charming town of San Pedro de Atacama, and desert itself. Staying here is an immersive experience, with exquisite views of the Licancabur Volcano and distant mountains, not forgetting the famed Uma Spa with its holistic and restorative massages, therapies, and beauty treatments.
Stylish Buenos Aires is a city of art, food, and culture – and also the fancy CasaSur Recoleta hotel which is located in the affluent Recoleta district. With just 35 rooms all elegantly furnished with Neoclassical decor, the hotel is just a stone’s throw from the Alvear Palace, the Recoleta Cemetery, and the rest of this engaging Argentinian city. If you’re traveling solo, the location of this hotel offers direct access to the heart of the city, while giving a feeling of safety and confidence to explore.
There are many features that shoot the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas into the higher echelons of South American hotels, but there’s one conspicuous selling point – the rather large garden water feature that is the Iguazu Falls themselves. The luxury hotel is within a 30 second stroll of this mighty waterfall, that straddles the border of Brazil and Argentina. It’s the only hotel located within Brazil’s side of the Iguazu National Park, and guests are free to explore from dawn till dusk, which is a privilege not shared by other visitors to this must-see destination.
Not for the faint-hearted, these these aerospace aluminum and weather resistant polycarbonate pods found not far from Cusco and Machu Picchu, are suspended from a vertiginous cliff face with incredible 300 degree views of the Sacred Valley. Choose from two extraordinary experiences, the original three Skylodge Adventure Suites whose exclusive capsules can only be arrived at using a harness and a daring 170-step climb up the sheer mountainside, or the six new StarLodge Adventure Suites, which can be accessed a little less strenuously by walking and also have bridge access to a spa platform with open-air, Onsen-type wooden hot tubs. You can zip-line back to the valley floor the next morning should you wish! Top quality evening meals are delivered to you by backpack, which you can enjoy with epic star-lit views across an ancient landscape. Each pod comes complete with four beds, a dining area and a private bathroom with dry ecological toilet.
The legendary Galapagos Islands are world-famous for their record-beating wildlife – so what better way to take it all in than by booking a few nights on the islands themselves. Pikaia Lodge is the first luxury hotel to be created on the archipelago – an ultra-modern building constructed of glass and black volcanic rock perched on the brim of an extinct caldera on the island of Santa Cruz. The lodge is not the cheapest, but it’s powered by solar and wind energy and features cutting edge furniture of recycled materials.
One for the honeymooners, romantic Entre Cielos is a contemporary and characterful modern retreat in a stunning part of the world, surrounded by the best Malbec vineyards in the winemaking region of Mendoza. The hotel spa offers beauty treatments, massages, and wine therapy, and the modern but comfortable rooms have views across the vineyards and distant mountain ranges.
Located on the edge of the world’s largest salt flats at Uyuni, Palacio de Sal is an extraordinary hotel, continuously reconstructed from salt blocks every year. The hotel prides itself on its unique salt design and gastronomy, not to mention the incredibly stunning accommodations and even more spectacular salt flat views. An “out-of-this-world hotel experience” and one of Bolivia’s most luxurious options with its extraordinary activities, onsite museum, and beautiful artworks made of salt on display, Palacio de Sal never disappoints.
Surround yourself with the extreme landscapes of the Torres Del Paine National Park and stay on the shores of the captivating Lake Pehoé with Explora Torres Del Paine. The hotel boasts a ton of spa treatments to complement its natural plunge pool (the lake itself) if you can muster the courage! You can head off on some of the hiking or horse-riding trails across nearby prairies, rivers, and woods, all against the wondrous backdrop of this most dramatic of terrains.
Overlooking the iconic Copacabana beach, Hotel Emiliano in Rio de Janeiro is the epitome of class. Every one of its 90 luxury rooms are sea-facing, so it never feels like staying put in the hotel means missing out on the fun. Rooms are minimalistic, with natural wood and woven fabrics, and as well as a quality on-site restaurant, there’s also a hotel spa and L-shaped rooftop swimming pool. Just a short walk away is Sugar Loaf Mountain, bustling Rio nightlife, and of course that beautiful beach.
Sited at the mouth of the Correntoso River on the shores of the magnificent Lake Nahuel Huapi, the Correntoso Lake & River Hotel is definitely one for lovers of the great outdoors. A myriad of activities and adventures are on its doorstep like kayaking, skiing, forest hiking, fly-fishing, and horseback riding, and the charming town of Bariloche is not far, at the other end of the lake. The hotel itself is sophisticated and cozy, with excellent culinary offerings, stunning waterside views, and a relaxing spa.
Stay in style near to one of the world’s most important and evocative archaeological sites – the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is in the small rustic town of Aguas Calientes, just a half-hour bus ride from the ruins – and buses leave every 15 minutes. The building melds into the cloud forest, enshrouded in undulating valleys and natural beauty against the backdrop of the Andes mountains, and features a spa and a restaurant with stunning views across the river Urubamba.
Hotel Titilaka is a boutique lodge on a private peninsula surrounding Lake Titicaca. A member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux fellowship, this sophisticated lakeside lodge features an all-inclusive luxury experience, with exceptional 5-star butler service and world-class Andean-contemporary cuisine, including the local lake trout. Titilaka includes four acres of grounds, two private beaches, wrap-around terraces and eighteen fully equipped open-plan lake view rooms, all accentuated with local textiles and fresh flowers.
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