Hotel Ayacara

Frutillar, Lake District, Chile Book from US$100

Reviewed by Gordon Baker
Romantic tranquillity at this charming, historic hotel in a small lakeside town with fantastic views of Volcano Osorno
Halfway down Lake Llanquihue in Chile's Lake District lies the small resort of Frutillar, known for its perfectly preserved late 19th-century German architecture. The Hotel Ayacara is one of the original German dwellings in the area, and with its prime lakeside location and generous use of lustrous wood throughout, it's also the most charming hotel in town. Stunning views of the symmetrical Volcano Osorno will tempt the photographer, and Frutillar's music festival in late January/early February lures classical musicians from around the world (book early!).

Ayacara has a classical feel, reminiscent of a traditional tallship or a New England lakeside cottage. It's built almost exclusively of wood, with natural, clean craftsmanship, while the ample windows let in an abundance of light and offer fantastic vistas of the lake. The welcome is open and hospitable, the food straightforward, tasty and good value, and the rooms comfortable and clean. Consider using Frutillar as a stopover or as a base for accessing the southern lake region.

Highs

  • When skies are clear, the view of breathtaking Volcano Osorno looms large by the glinting lake
  • During the evening enjoy a glass of wine in the lounge, drinking in the sparkling stars
  • The minimalist nautical décor, with windows framing spectacular views
  • Frutillar offers a picturesque alternative to Puerto Montt and is just a 35-minute drive from this key transport hub

Lows

  • The unpredicatable weather can spoil it - the 'non-existent volcano' when clouds are low is often accompanied by a biting wind
  • Some might find the town just a bit too staid - apart from the festival, Frutillar has little nightlife; restaurants and bars usually close early

Best time to go

The best time to see the lake district is from December to mid-March, when the weather is warm and rain is less likely. The last week of January and first week of February is the Frutillar's music festival, when the town really comes alive and all accommodation is booked well in advance.

The hotel is open October to April; outside this period it will accept advance bookings (particularly for groups) or if the weather is unseasonably good. Winter (June-September) can be a fun time to visit because of the additional snow on the mountains (there are numerous ski resorts in the region).

Our top tips

Frutillar draws the summer crowds for its Semana Musicales de Frutillar, the annual 10-day festival from late January to early February, which hosts an excellent series of classical (and sometimes jazz) concerts - bring your classical instrument if your visit overlaps with it.

Make sure you pack a sweather and windproof jacket, as the wind can really whistle off the lake.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 8
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: El Capitan

Rooms

The 8 spacious rooms, each with an ensuite bathroom, use colour rather than clutter as decoration, allowing you to focus on the views (or cable TV once the sun goes down!).

The rooms have a clean, nautical feel: ship-shape and simple with wood everywhere. Effort has been made to make each room unique, starting with the paint job, yet they share the same approach: bright, with large windows framing the splendid views across the lake to Volcano Osorno. There are functional, cabin-style bathrooms and special touches (there's an old harmonium in El Músico, for example).

The beds are comfy, with soft cotton sheets turned down for you on arrival and a locally made chocolate on the bed. Sadly, there were no feather pillows to top off the feel, but, then again, we didn't find a single one in all of Chile...

El Capitán is the largest double room and has the best view of the volcano; Balandras is the largest and most panoramic twin. Couples might well enjoy the attic rooms (El Retiro and La Dulcinea) for their intimacy and seclusion. The 2 twin rooms on the ground floor (Flores Amarillas and Flores Azules) are a little noiser and have restricted views.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Phone
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Breakfasts are a surprise treat, with tasty combinations that change with available fresh produce. Summertime meals on the veranda/deck, with a warm sun, soft lake breeze and superb views of the magnificent volcano, take some beating.

The basement bar/restaurant gets fairly lively in season. It has a German brauhaus feel, and is an amiable combination of original materials and furnishings (including a wood burning stove), with updated touches of colour and decor. And, of course, plenty of booze.

Lunch and dinner start with a choice of soup, and main courses are fish, chicken, beef or vegetarian, with scrumptious homemade ice cream to finish. There's a cheaper children’s plate available as well. Non-guests are also welcome to use the restaurant.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Walks: Take a stroll along the lake. This quiet, Germanic lakeside town really perks up in high season and the promenade provides a good mix of different people to nod or chat to

  • Museums: For an insight into the past, a visit to Frutillar's Museo Colonial Aleman is a must. Features include full-scale reconstructions of a water-powered mill and a smithy, and displays of 19th-century household and agricultural implements amid a beautiful garden

  • Horse riding: Just south of town is a stable that offers trips lasting from half a day to longer, across the Andes to Argentina. A wide range of experience is catered for

  • Boat trips: boats run from Puerto Varas, just along the lake. These take 3-4 hours and showcase the kaleidoscopic colours of the lake and its abundant (on a clear day) views

  • Cycling: Bicycles are available from nearby Puerto Octay; you can pedal a route through pretty and tranquil country roads

  • Fishing: Many of the nearby rivers are famous for trout; local operators can organise excursions for fly fishermen

  • Rafting and golf are available in the region. Ask at reception for details

  • Relaxing: Enjoy a chat, read a book from the library, or settle into a video in the welcoming and warm lounge

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Rafting

Kids

Children are welcome, extra beds or cots can be put in the rooms (babies under 2 years stay for free), and babysitting can be arranged; however, there is not much for them to do in Frutillar.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Kid Friendly:

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