Hotel Antumalal

Pucon, Lake District, Chile Book from

Classic luxury, an illustrious history and panoramic views of Lake Villarica make this old-timer a still-essential visit
Sepia photos in the entrance hall look like a cool interiors montage, until you realise the portraits and landscapes are a snapshot of the hotel's own story. Visiting dignitaries share space with vistas of an erupting Volcano Villarica, whose molten lava destroyed the owners' first hotel. A smiling Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, on a fishing holiday in 1968, take centre stage. And the story of how Guillermo and Catalina Pollak, immigrants from Czechoslovakia in 1938, persuaded the president of Chile to finance their hotel gives Antumalal a place in the country's history.

The hotel is now in the hands of Rony Pollak, the founders' daughter, and the emphasis on service and luxury remains. However, it's starting to attract a younger audience with a taste for adventure. Rooms have huge picture windows; airy living areas present a stylish combination of iron furniture, colourful cushions and goat skin rugs. A cosy bar comes complete with roaring hearth and leather chairs; the dining room and terrace overlook the beautiful grounds and Lake Villarica. Glorious.

Highs

  • The stunning sunset over the lake, which gave Antumalal its name ('Corral of the Sun' in Mapuche)
  • The abundance of flowers and 26 different species of native trees in the gardens - go in March to see trees festooned with copihue, the red bell-shaped national flower
  • Delightfully low-key; it feels as though you could be in a friend's private house
  • With a lake on your doorstep and volcanoes, hot springs, national parks and white-water rivers nearby, there's no shortage of outdoor activities
  • Small but delightful details, such as a chocolate-covered strawberry left at turndown service
  • Architecturally very interesting - a classic 50s Bauhaus design by Chilean architect Jorge Elton, which Wallpaper magazine declared 'retro chic'

Lows

  • Although beautifully furnished and maintained, there's a slight sense of faded glory - the Queen's visit would have been during its heyday
  • Go at the wrong time of year (April-October) and those fabulous surroundings might be marred by rain
  • It seems a shame that bedrooms in the main hotel don't have balconies to maximise the views
  • Some bedrooms in the chalets are small, with 2-3 single beds. Best for young children

Best time to go

Spring, summer and autumn (October-March) are all great. Spring is best for flowers, summer for making the most of many of the activities, autumn for escaping the crowds and enjoying the colours (although it's cooler and wetter). Winter is also an option if you are a keen skier.

Our top tips

The hotel grounds play host to 35 different endemic bird species, so it's the perfect spot for birdwatchers. For outdoor activities in general, layering is key - even during the hottest months take fleeces and wind/rain-proof jackets for mountain activity, and in winter be sure to take hats and gloves. Casual wear, swimwear and sports shoes are also recommended.

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 11 rooms + 3 suites + 3 chalets
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
Room:

Rooms

Upon entering the rooms (Twins and Double) in the main building, it takes a few minutes to notice anything other than the fantastic views through the wall-sized windows. Inside, there's little to compete; the décor is low-key and in all-natural materials - monkey-puzzle wood panelling confers a snug alpine feel.

The firm beds, made up with crisp cotton sheets, dominates the room, and soft white alpaca rugs on the floor add a real touch of luxury; the flagstones are warm underfoot, too. A log fireplace, which hotel staff will light on request, is recessed into the wall and firewood is stacked away in the hallway. A comfortable upright chair made from stretched rope over wood and a tree-trunk lampshade carry through motifs from the rest of the hotel. A walk-in wardrobe, complete with white towelling robes and slippers, is just off to one side of the hallway, while the functional but pleasant bathroom, with a bath and powerful shower, is at the other side.

If you want more space, there's a Suite and 2 Family Suites, complete with a small library and a squashy sofa.

There are also 3 chalets dotted around the grounds, each with their own kitchen and a living area. These are ideal for families or groups of friends as they have private entrances and large gardens. The Royal Chalet has 3 bedrooms (a double, a twin and a single), an interior garden where the room is actually built around the cliff face, and a lovely waterfall on the balcony; this is where the Queen stayed. The Forest Chalet has 3 bedrooms (a double and 2 twins), an outdoor barbecue area and some attractive artwork from the owners' private collection on the walls. The Lake Chalet, which we're yet to see, has a double bedroom, a twin bedroom and a private terrace with incredible views across the lake.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Phone
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The restaurant is well presented, divided by an indoor garden to give diners a semblance of privacy. Tables are laid with pristine white cotton, heavy silver cutlery and crystal wine glasses. And the view, by day, is spectacular. Wooden menu boards with a single fern leaf carry through the hotel's natural theme.

Breakfast, served until 10.30am, consists of a good buffet with fresh fruit salad, cereals and granola, yoghurt, homemade breads with hams, cheese and conserves, sweet dishes such as cakes or custard tarts, and eggs cooked to order.

Maria Ignacia is the head chef, her focus being 'fresh, local and organic produce, cooked simply and with panache'. Organic fruit and veg are grown in the grounds, breads are home-baked, and fresh meat and fish are bought daily from the local market. The menu is relatively broad, but is the same for daytime and evening; light options such as soups and salads are good lunchtime choices.

Our dinner started with an excellent seafood sharer - ceviche, chilli prawns, calamari and breaded fish. Mains included fresh fish from the lake (hake, conger eel, trout) and a sensational fillet steak. There was a good selection of Chilean wines and a well-stocked bar.

Should you wish to branch out one evening, there's a handful of good restaurants in Pucón. For parrrilladas (barbecued meat) head to La Maga, or for pasta dishes, try one of the several small restaurants on Calle Fresia. The hotel can recommend a selection.

Those in the chalets can prepare basic meals and snacks: the Royal Chalet and Lake Chalet both have basic kitchenettes, and the Forest Chalet has an outdoor BBQ area.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hike up Volcano Villarrica - you can get to the top (2,840m above sea level) and back in 9 hours - or splash out on a helicopter ride to see bubbling magma in the crater
  • There’s also the option to ski down it, or explore the network of caves underneath and marvel at the disconcertingly fresh and chocolate-like dried lava on the wall (probably not for the claustrophobic)
  • Choose your own adventure with Davita Tours (named after Rony's grandmother), hosted by bilingual guides. The local area is rich in opportunities: hiking, kayaking, rafting, canopying and cycling. Afterwards, soothe those aching muscles with a trip to one of the region's 13 hot springs
  • Take to the slopes - trips to San Martín de los Andes in Argentina (a 3-hour journey) can be arranged, with an overnight stay if required
  • For a Chilean touch, head to one of the numerous local cultural events or visit a Mapuche reservation for an insight on how they live, work and eat
  • Relax in the hotel pool, sauna and hot tub, have a massage or join in a yoga class or play tennis

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Sailing
  • Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Children are welcome at the hotel. There isn't any specific entertainment for children, but can babysitters can be arranged.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The chalets in particular are very suitable for families with young children because of the space, flexibility and privacy they afford. Plus the Royal Chalet and Lake Chalet have basic kitchenettes.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Distances:

  • Airport: 90 minutes (Temuco)
Kid Friendly:

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