Tierra Chiloe

near Castro, Patagonia, Chile Book from

Recommended awaiting i-escape review
Intimate, architect-designed hotel on unique Chiloe island, with thrilling excursions, delicious fare and panoramic bay views
Step away from reality and onto Chiloe, the mystical Chilean island that time forgot. Part of Chilean Patagonia and populated by tiny fishing villages, the residents of this remote outpost remain predominantly self-sufficient, catching their own food and making their own textiles. Amid this artisan community, on a quiet peninsula, an architectural wonder appears to float above the pasture. Originally built in 2012, Tierra Chiloe’s conceptual structure was designed to mimic the island’s landscape and traditional stilted homes. Happily, it also takes every opportunity to frame the expansive views of the surrounding bay.

Indigenous conifer, beech and larch woods were used inside and out, warming the cutting-edge sheet glass windows and industrial steel framework. The islanders’ crafts are put to good use cosying up the 12 sea-view bedrooms, where couples, friends, solos and families are warmly welcomed. Wander down to the private beach, search for penguins and otters on an islet boat tour or horse ride across the rugged countryside. When you reach the wild Pacific Coast, look out for the transcendent Bridge of the Souls jutting into thin air. Legend has it this is where the island’s spirits wait for the boat to their final resting place; heaven knows it must be wonderful there.

Note: the hotel is gaining a new wing during 2016-7, which will house a full spa, heated indoor and outdoor pools, and 12 new suites (including family rooms). Positioned at right angles to the original hotel, it faces over the bird-rich tidal wetlands, and each part feels separate from the other. We've seen the plans and the work schedule (most of it is happening during April-September, when the hotel is closed), so we're confident that disruption will be minimal.

Highs

  • Excellent excursions include whale-watching (Dec-May), hiking and tours of tiny islet communities
  • Perfect for outdoorsy honeymooners, with moody views, a romantic outdoor fireplace and small spa
  • Guests tell us the food is delicious, with seafood bought fresh from local fisherman that day
  • The hotel’s intimate size and excellent service create a relaxed yet luxurious atmosphere
  • Part of the award-winning Tierra family, standard-setters for outstanding architectural hotels

Lows

  • There will be unintrusive building work (and discounted rates) from November 2016-March 2017; it will re-open with 24 rooms in October 2017
  • It’s expensive, but the package rates include all meals, day trips, airport transfers and most drinks
  • Remote and convoluted to get to (an internal flight from Santiago), but that’s part of the reason it remains so special
  • Getting the most out of a stay here is all about discovering Chiloe; those seeking a lazy retreat should probably look elsewhere

Best time to go

Chiloe's climate is similar to the UK - generally clement but a tad rainy. Springtime runs through September and October while January and February are popular for local festivals. Expect temperatures of around 10C year round, and if you really don't want rain, avoid May to August.

Our top tips

It's worth booking an all-inclusive rate: the food and activities here are top notch and wonderfully varied, and represent very good value when you consider what you're getting (meals, drinks, airport transfers, boat trips, horse riding, fishing, trekking, bird-watching etc). Be sure to pack walking boots and binoculars.

If you love this place, take a look at the sister outposts in Patagonia and Atacama - we love them! And you can book a two- or three-Tierra adventure at favourable rates, with a night at a top Santiago hotel thrown in.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Beach
Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 12
  • All inclusive
  • Best for older children
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Twelve cosy, understated rooms gaze out through enormous picture windows to the expansive bay beyond. Modest in size, what they lack in square footage they make up for with heavenly kingsize beds and lots of Chiloe character. Locally-knitted shawls and slippers, hand-carved wooden figures and modern panelling (made from the island's trees) offset stark angles and wild views, creating a calm, romantic oasis for post-adventure relaxation. Two rooms are slightly bigger, with space for an extra bed.

Compact bathrooms are sleek and modern, with showers over Jacuzzi tubs, piles of fluffy white towels and L'Occitane toiletries. The focus here is very much on the outdoors, so rooms have been kept relatively simple, with no entertainment systems or minibars (though there is WiFi throughout).

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Guests start the day with a tasty buffet breakfast in the airy dining room, where you'll see horses grazing in the meadow outside, through the sheet-glass windows.

Later, delicious 3-course lunches and dinners are also served here. Of course, seafood is the highlight, caught fresh that day by local fishermen. The varied menu may include tangy ceviche or fish and chips (some say the best they’ve ever tasted), and don't miss the curanto, an island specialty of shellfish, smoked pork and potato pancakes. We've also heard that Chiloe's potatoes (there are over 43 species) are used to make a special homemade bread that's available with every meal - we can't wait to try it.

If you’re out on an excursion, staff will put together a decadent picnic. And, if you’re aboard the hotel's boat, Williche, expect to see fresh seafood cooked on-deck and served up alongside Pisco Sours. Rest assured, there won’t be a soggy sandwich in sight.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Organic produce
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Take a boat tour on Williche, the only commercial vessel operating in the area. You won't see any other tourists but you will see rugged landscapes, local fishermen at work and (hopefully) wildlife such as sea lions, dolphins, penguins and whales (Dec-May)
  • The boat also offers visits to the area's tiny islets where hauntingly beautiful UNESCO-listed churches have cemeteries designed to be exact replicas of their villages
  • Trek Chiloe's near uninhabited west coast, looking out for the Bridge of the Souls. Legend has it that when locals pass away their souls wander the island towards this point. If they have been good in their lives, a boat takes them to their final resting place. If not, they're left to wander...
  • The island can also be explored on horseback or from the water with sea kayaks - just ask
  • Head into Castro, the island's capital, to visit the farmers' market and see the distinctive 'palafitos' (stilted wooden houses built over Castro’s bay)
  • The private beach in front of Tierra Chiloe is a lovely stretch for a leisurely walk, though it's way too cold for swimming!
  • Back at the hotel, ease tired muscles in the sauna and hot tub, or book a spa treatment. Afterwards, curl up in front of the outdoor lounge's roaring fire with woollen blankets and a Pisco Sour for added insulation

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Whalewatching

Kids

Tierra Chiloe's outdoorsy, laid-back atmosphere is fantastic for older adventurous kids (6+). There are no special facilities for children, and you're 20km from shops etc. Toddlers stay free.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Two of the 12 rooms have space for an extra bed on request; and from October 2017 there will be dedicated family rooms. All rooms can be made up as twins.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and high chairs

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

Children's meals:

A kids' menu

Kids Activities on site:

  • Horse riding
  • Boat trips
  • Sea kayaking
  • Walking and exploring
  • Beach (too cold for swimming)

Kid Friendly:

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