Stretching across Chile and Argentina, Southern Patagonia is chiefly a land of vast, desolate steppes, and has long lured travellers by its spellbinding landscapes and storied peaks carved by age-old glaciers. In the countries’ numerous national parks, snow-capped mountains, cobalt fjords and old-growth forests lend the region an inimitable almost-the-end-of-the-world feel. At the southernmost tip of the Americas, high precipitation and cold air combine to create huge glaciers that spill into numerous fjords, whilst icebergs rupture with dramatic roars from ancient, massive glaciers. Located on the eastern border of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, celebrated Chilean architect Cazú Zegers’ visually stunning Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa makes an immediate and lasting impression, like a prehistoric animal fossil beached on the shore of the lake.
The shape of the building was dictated by the wind, a prominent natural element which is characteristic of the area, and its form seeks to join the metaphysical landscape of the location to the structure. Meanwhile the hotel (lest we forget that it is actually a hotel, rather than a massive art installation) is anchored to the ground with stone embankments and entirely covered with panelling of washed lenga – a native wood which grows in Tierra del Fuego, one of the most southern places on earth – in order to achieve the silver colouration common of water-corroded timber.
Inside, the remarkable building is dominated by immense floor-to-ceiling windows, which proffer extraordinary views across Lago Sarmiento towards the breathtaking granite monoliths of the Cordillera del Paine mountains. It is impossible not to be impressed by the dramatic surrounding Patagonian landscapes the hotel looks out upon. Throughout the building, the playful interplay of wood ceilings, walls constructed from timber boards of differing lengths, and floorboards laid at angles give the overall design an utterly unique feeling of energy and flow.
Whilst the hotel’s great room seamlessly unites a sitting area, bar, dining space and inviting fireplace, the forty guest rooms (including three duplex suites) display largely the same aesthetic but are appointed with simple but smart furnishings that impart an intimate elegance to their interiors. Bathrooms are well lit by natural light, and offer more dramatic views alongside walk-in showers and deep tubs.
Days are spent hiking to spectacular mountain vistas (mostly led by Chilean guides) and returning for a swim or a massage in the spa, and ended with a superb meal accompanied by Chilean wines as the sun sets on the rocky pinnacles in the distance.