“Intimate rustic-luxe oasis in Chile’s most dramatic desert, with adobe cabanas, sociable pool patio and tailormade private excursions”
Each of the cabanas is a luxurious oasis in itself. Furnished with dark wood and wicker, and decorated with twig sconces and handmade dolls, interiors have a quirky but comfy elegance. Adobe walls, wood floors and thatched roofs keep you appropriately warm or cool, depending on the season.
We loved the circular cabanas. Some of them share a patio, complete with umbrellas, a cushioned wrought-iron couch, wicker chairs and a bistro-style table (but each has a small private patio too); the fifth sits apart, with a huge patio all to itself. Our spacious bedroom had a kingsize bed, a cushioned chaise longue with a reading lamp, a wicker easy chair and an executive-style writing table with stationary, postcards, even a sharpened pencil. Other thoughtful touches include a bedside torch and a pair of walking sticks.
As for our bathroom, we could have hosted a party in its marbled and tiled grandeur. In addition to twin sinks, there’s a nook for a partially sunken tub (with bath salts and a loofah), a shower (with rain head) behind a beaded curtain, and a separate toilet room. You get a makeup mirror, a hairdryer and a tray of amenities including a natural pumice stone, a hand-carved wooden comb and Awasi Atacama’s own line of lip balm, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and milled soap - a deliciously piquant blend of mint and lemon derived from the thumbnail-size limón de pica.
Three equally spacious rectangular cabanas (adjacent to the main lobby across the road) have larger private patios and long, narrow bathrooms.
At night, step outside to marvel at the starriest night sky you may ever see, then slip between crisp white sheets topped with a down comforter and an alpaca blanket. The evening turn-down service brings an Awasi chocolate in a cactus box and a woven mat to your bedside.
Wake to the songs of desert finches and have breakfast delivered to your room or semi-private patio table. Or amble down a flagstone path lined with golden pampas grass and river stones to the main patio, where breakfast is served from 8-10am - but you can get it served later if you want. Fresh fruit, still-warm breads, pitchers of hand-squeezed orange and chirimoya juices, yoghurt, cereals and cold cuts are arranged buffet-style on the counter, where a cook is ready to fix you eggs, omelette, French toast - whatever you like. It's a luxurious start to the day which would be a credit a 5-star city hotel, let alone 8000ft up in the Chilean desert.
Lunch (1-3pm) and dinner (8-10pm) are served daily, on request - again the hotel can adapt to your schedule. The emphasis is on light fare, easy to digest at this high altitude. Our first dinner included pumpkin soup tinged with ginger, handmade fettuccine flavoured with rica rica (a local herb similar to rosemary) and a creamy dessert parfait made with a local fruit called lúcuma.
Daily menus - featuring fish, meat and vegetarian dishes - have footnotes defining the local ingredients. Executive chef Ana Mingo creates a unique fusion of traditional Chilean specialties and international dishes with local produce supplied by subsidised farming communities called ayllus. Feast on fish such as Chilean reineta or steak topped with a sauce blending the local Carménère varietal with a syrup from the plum-like fruit of the chañar tree.
If you don't like the look of the daily specials, choose a salad and spinach fettuccine (a good option for vegetarians) and ice cream for dessert. Guests are welcome to take recipes home or learn new cooking tips, perched on a stool at the open kitchen.
The bar stocks premium liquors, including the popular pisco, and a good selection of wines from all regions of Chile, as well as a premium wine list. Settle into a cushioned sculpted adobe booth and enjoy the music (energetic Latin beats in the morning; smooth jazz vocals after dark). If the night air is crisp, pull an alpaca blanket over you, or settle by an open brazier or fireplace.
Awasi staff are also happy to recommend local restaurants offering everything from omelettes to empanadas, and all within walking distance.
Awasi Atacama has many child-friendly activities, including the chance to get to know a traditional trade in the region during a visit to a local artisan and to try it with their own hands, the chance to learn about local flora and fauna and astronomy, and the chance to keep a travel blog during their stay.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Families staying in the Rectangular Suites can request extra beds for a supplement, as well as cots
Keep in mind that small children can react unpredictably to altitude