Domingo Atienza s/n, Avllu de Larache, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
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The Hotel Explora en Atacama is an oasis in the unearthly high desert of northern Chile, eight thousand feet above sea level, surrounded by salt flats and volcanic formations. Clearly you’re not here for the night life (unless you’re an astronomer) or for a business meeting (though conference rooms are available, for those most hopeless of work addicts). This is one of the most remote, alien, and unforgiving corners of the natural world, a place of sublime, awe-inspiring beauty. If you can’t forget about your social calendar or your business affairs in the midst of the Atacama Desert, then there is no hope for you.
The architecture and interior design are understated, a sort of rustic modern look, the buildings clinging low to the surface of the earth, gathered around stone patios and outdoor pools. The plan is open, aligned along two intersecting corridors where you can’t help but encounter fellow travelers. Sunlight, twice as clear and bright at this elevation, seems to blast through the walls and ceilings. There is a refreshing absence of black lacquer or white futuristic furniture, as well as a merciful avoidance of Incan kitsch. The feeling is rather like an opulent hostel, or a particularly Spartan luxury resort, or even a comfortable, well-designed scientific outpost.
But the attraction is the landscape, and the hotel’s guides are here to get you out of your room (don’t worry, there’s nothing on television, nor for that matter any televisions) and into the desert. The faint of heart may lounge about the grounds, enjoying what one could mistake for a view of the surface of Mars, while the more adventuresome might hike across vast salt flats, ride horses over rolling dunes, or even climb to the rim of an ancient volcano. The El Tatio geyser fields, nearly fourteen thousand feet in elevation, resemble nothing so much as the smoking pits of hell itself — one could be forgiven for indulging in some kind of post-apocalyptic survival fantasy.
There’s no need, however dire the surroundings, to engage in cannibalism. Of course there’s a dining room, and the food is, as you by now expect, quite good, in an understated and hearty sort of way. And the hotel bar is, as always, the center of the nightlife, or the early evening life anyway, where exhausted hikers exchange war stories. But the nightlife can’t compete with the day’s activities; it’s merely punctuation, to end the day. No one lounges in the Explora’s bar to be seen, to be fabulous — one is likely much too tired and short of breath to be glamorous.It is difficult to imagine a place more remote from the modern world than the deserts of northern Chile. Short of enlisting for an Antarctic expedition, or a manned lunar landing, this is as far as it’s possible to get from the typical city hotel experience. The Hotel Explora en Atacama is complete and utter escape; casual adventurers, please consider Palm Springs.
How to get there:Explora Atacama is located a one-hour minibus transfer from Calama El Loa airport (CJC), which is in turn a two-hour flight from Santiago (SCL). Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange airport transfers.
Please note: There is a 3-night minimum requirement at explora Atacama.
- 50 Rooms
- Style: Modern Design
- Atmosphere: Secluded
- explora Atacama
- Domingo Atienza s/n, Avllu de Larache
- San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Hotel amenities and services
- 100% non-smoking hotel
- 24 hour front desk
- Adjoining rooms
- Bicycle rentals nearby
- Business center
- Free wi-fi
- No pets allowed
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Room service
- Shopping area nearby
- Spa treatments (on request)