“Classic luxury, an illustrious history and panoramic views of Lake Villarica make this old-timer a still-essential visit”
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.
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.
Children are welcome at the hotel. There isn't any specific entertainment for children, but can babysitters can be arranged.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
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 available by arrangement
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking