Finca Valentina

near Salta, Salta & Northwest, Argentina Book from

Chic but relaxed: a beautifully designed guesthouse just southwest of Salta, which offers breathtaking tours
It was Fabrizio who fell in love with the Argentine northwest first. He’s so passionate about the beauty of the dazzling high altitude plains of the Puna that he left Italy and started a small company taking guests up across the salt lakes and into the sculptural desert of the Andes beyond. He then wooed Valentina away from designing Chelsea interiors, and together the Italian couple have created a beautiful little country house with some very chic rooms in the main house, as well as a charming self-contained cottage in the grounds. Both buildings sit in a lush garden fringed by distant mountains.

Valentina has brought light and space to traditional Salteño style, combining white walls and lofty ceilings with classical modernist hallmarks: a whole wall of paned glass in the dining room, a soaring minimalist fireplace and a stunning swimming pool. Mid-century modern classics are everywhere, but so are antique chairs, and the hall is hung with ancient woven ponchos. The result is delightfully crisp and airy, but you know you’re in Salta. All bedrooms mix high-end comfort with vintage finds, and the bathrooms are gorgeous little havens. Bowls of roses abound. The food is superb. It’s like staying with relaxed, very welcoming friends.

Highs

  • Beautifully designed - rare for Salta - and yet excellent value for money
  • Fabrizio and Valentina are great hosts: young, friendly, interested in people, they make you feel at home but leave you to do your own thing
  • Personalised service: this is a small place so you create the schedule
  • A great base, and really excellent activities on offer: Fabrizio knows the area intimately, and takes visitors to the wildest parts of the northwest, as well as conventional tours to Cachi and Cafayate
  • Great location: really handy for Salta city (you will need to get a taxi to and from if without a car) and Salta airport (10 minutes’ drive, with free transfers)

Lows

  • Service is relaxed: don’t expect city speed or efficiency
  • Fabrizio and Valentina live with their kids next door (but also on site), giving a friendly family feel to the place, but this might not suit those who prefer a child-free atmosphere
  • Some of the Standard Rooms are more recent additions and we haven't had the chance to view them yet
  • No other restaurants within walking distance/close by

Best time to go

Finca Valentina is open all year round. The best season is from September to May, though be aware that downpours in the rainy season (from the end of December to February) may make roads to the remoter parts of the Calchaquí Valleys impassable. Winter (July and August) is still beautiful in the Puna, though it can be cold at night.

Our top tips

Book Suite 3 for its views, and stay here at the end of your trip, for a spot of relaxing before your flight back to Buenos Aires. Definitely book a trip to the Puna with Fabrizio: you’ve never seen anything like it.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 6
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Standard Room 2

Rooms

The airy rooms are designed with sumptuous high thread-count bed linens, locally woven blankets of the softest llama or lambswool (chic not scratchy), and a choice of pillows - ours were both firm and soft, and all are anti-allergic. As well as modernist lamps, there are woven ponchos and baskets made by local craftspeople, plus old sepia photographs of the 1920s construction of the Tren a las Nubes (the famous Salta 'Train to the Clouds'). There’s underfloor heating for winter and fans for summer (you really don’t need air con), plus mosquito nets in the windows.

Bathrooms are made for those who need these things to be perfect: powerful showers, soft high-quality towels, soaps made with locally grown herbs, and decent toiletries. More surprisingly, there’s local pumice from volcanoes in the Puna and loofahs grown in the garden! And each room has fresh roses from the garden, too.

In the main house, there are 2 ground-floor Standard Rooms, both are accessed via the exterior gallery. Ensuites have showers and wooden decked floors. In a separate building near the main house, 2 newer Standard Rooms await. We're yet to see these personally, but their setting allows a more private stay.

The Suite is also on the ground-floor of the main house. It has a separate entrance from the hall, 2 bedrooms and a shared bathroom with a bath and overhead shower, as well as a private patio with 2 loungers and a small table. This is ideal for a family or friends. One room has a queensize bed, the other has a double or 2 single beds.

The biggest room, Superior Room, is on the first floor with a private balcony and loungers, and lovely views onto the gardens and mountains in the distance. It has windows to 3 directions, an extremely comfortable queensize bed with a niche behind your head filled with books and magazines, a desk, and a long wall of wardrobes and benches to park your belongings. The bathroom has an antique basin, a spacious bench and a huge mirror, and there’s a separate rainhead shower room.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The set menu for main meals changes daily: expect Italian recipes mixed with traditional Salteño ingredients. Everything is handmade, from the fresh pasta to the mango ice cream. Meals are eaten at separate tables (or all together if you prefer), and the food is superb.

Have a glass of wine with Fabrizio and Valentina before dinner, with a selection of cheeses and hams as picadas if you’re peckish. You might start with a risotto of quinoa with peppers, followed by fillet of beef from local farms, which will be succulent as butter, cooked the Italian way on a hot dish, and served with rocket salad with parmesan cheese. There’s also brasato, an Italian dish of beef slow-cooked with vegetables, or fish from Chile. Puddings include Amaretti ice cream, a pear tarte tatin, or a yummy pear and chocolate crumble.

Lunch is usually light and delicious - think salads, soups, fresh pasta, vegetable tarts and fresh fruit salads. There’s usually an asado (a traditional Argentinian barbecue) on Sunday lunchtimes in the outside quincho (covered eating area).

Breakfast has no fixed time so you can get up when you like. You get fresh juice (we had mandarin), croissants from the local bakery, homemade bread and jams, freshly baked cakes, eggs to order, plus goat's cheese from the local farm and ham. Cereals, tea and an excellent traditional cappuccino are also on offer.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Lounge by the pool - there’s a chic infinity pool (open November to April; not heated) in the garden, with views of the mountains and loungers to take the sun

  • Take a cooking class with Finca Valentina's chefs, who will teach you how to make traditional Salta dishes such as humitas, empanadas and locro from scratch. Then eat your creations for lunch afterwards

  • Have a massage - expert Swedish massage is offered, as well as lymph-drainage, facials, waxing, manicures and pedicures

  • Birding here is superb (look out for lapwings, horneros, parrots, eagles, owls and tanagers); there's a bird book in the house, and professional tours can be arranged

  • Go walking - there are paths around the gardens and along tracks to the rivers. You can borrow bikes, too

  • There's a nature reserve in San Lorenzo, 15 minutes' drive away; the resident botanist gives guided tours and it's great for birding

  • Go horse riding - Finca Valentina can arrange for a gaucho to take you riding (book the night before) to the river and up on the cerros (mountains) to see wild horses, tobacco plantations, and the traditional tobacco drying houses

  • Other activities nearby include fishing in an artificial lake 45 minutes away, rafting on the Juramento river, and tennis at courts close by

  • Fabrizio takes guests on really fabulous trips to the Puna and beyond, through his company Socompa Travel. These are run by expert guides and explore places where no other agency ventures: definitely worth booking up as part of your Argentina itinerary. Most highly recommended is the trip to the ancient ruined city of Quilmes, hiking at Tolombón, and then continuing up the Calchaquí valley

  • Fabrizio also organises more conventional trips to Cachi and Cafayate for wine tasting, and a very cultural Salta city tour with stops for handicraft shopping, silversmith visits and museums - the MAAM (Museum of High Altitude Archaeology) is highly recommended, it poignantly houses three Inca child mummies

  • Socompa can also take you in off-road vehicles to explore the extraordinary rugged desert landscapes around Tolar Grande and Antofagasta de la Sierra

  • Uniquely, its guides take guests up into Bolivia to the Salar de Uyuni, and over into Chile to the Atacama. These landscapes really have to be seen to be believed

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being

Kids

Children are welcome and the owners have 2 of their own (they live in the house next door, but on-site). There are lots of toys for kids to use and dogs to play with. There's a pool and the grounds are great for romping around in, discovering wildlife (we saw some really cool moths!) and birding (burrowing owls put on a display for you as you drive in).

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

The Suite is made up of a double and twin, has a bathroom and a private patio, ideal for a large family party. Cots are available (free) in every room; the Superior Room can fit an extra bed for a small extra charge.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chair
  • Changing mat

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Smaller portions of adult meals can be made for children, and special requests are easily catered for if you tell the cook or Valentina in the morning

Kids Activities on site:

  • Pool
  • Swing
  • Bicycles
  • Toys
  • Rabbit
  • Gardens
  • Dog to play with
  • Cooking classes tailored for specific ages

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Our daughter absolutely loved the MAAM (Museum of High Altitude Archaeology) in Salta because of the Inca child mummies; it is a very respectful and well curated exhibit and the museum is small enough that younger folk don't get bored
  • Older kids and teens would like horse riding and bike tours locally

Families Should Know:

The swimming pool is fenced. Keep an eye out for bees in the garden or the very occasional (harmless) snake in the long grass

Distances:

  • Airport: 10 minutes
  • Hospital: 15 minutes
  • Shops: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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