The Best Hotels
From ski resorts to lush beaches, and from dizzying mountains to sprawling rainforests, South America is an endlessly fascinating continent with something for every traveler, and its hotels are no different–experience the sights of this beautiful continent while staying in luxury resorts, charming bungalows, organic farms, and spas that will keep you feeling fresh and recharged while you take in everything that the continent has to offer.
New & Noteworthy
andBeyond Vira Vira
What appears as a stack of boxes hidden among the trees, water, and mountain range backdrop of Chile’s Lake District, is actually a stunning modern resort and working organic farm, balancing elements of rustic authenticity and modern sophistication. After a day of hikes, rafting or touring the volcanoes, lakes and waterfalls via helicopter, spend the night soaking in an outdoor hot tub, dining outside along the Liucura River, doing yoga, or nestling in to sip wine in one of the comfortable living areas. Winter here in the warm rooms of rustic wood, natural hides, and wool, spares no magic: skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding are among the best activities.
Aria Amazon River Cruise
Gliding along the Peruvian Amazon, this high-end floating boutique hotel marries contemporary design and five-star luxury and service, with off-ship adventures for an enriching hotel-stay that checks all the boxes: once-in-a-lifetime experiences, high-end pampering, and top-notch dining. Yes, you are floating into the Amazon jungle in a sexy riverboat with 16 high-design suites featuring floor to ceiling windows; a roof deck with a bar and a hot tub; a locally-sourced menu curated by Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino (of Malabar and ámaZ, two of Latin America’s top 50 restaurants), but somehow your experience feels intimate, authentic, and not at all superficial. Maybe it’s the carefully curated daily skiff-excursions into the remote black waters of the Pacaya Samiria Natural Reserve where you fish for piranha; search for anacondas, sloths, and pink dolphins; and visit riverbank villages. It’s the pauses at sunset to soak in the sounds of this vibrant, incredible place and the depth of knowledge and pride exhibited by the guides as they share and delight in their Amazon with you. Altogether, it’s magical.
On the corner of San Francisco Plaza, in historically preserved downtown Quito, this mansion-turned-hotel sits across from the city’s premier early church—San Francisco—built in 1680. The Gangotenas, a family of local prominence, had residence here most recently, though it housed other royalty of the republic before that, and even earlier, was the supposed site of an Inca temple. Opened as a hotel in 2010, today it’s home to Baroque and Art Deco elements, opulent marble baths, high ceilings, and grand murals depicting nature and battle scenes. Enjoy views from the rooftop, or relaxing high tea in the garden. The chef takes years of experience cooking in the Galapagos and Ecuadorian rainforest to provide stylish, elevated Quito flavors.
Rich & Famous
Casa San Agustín
In Cartagena’s Old Town (a colorful historic district, and convenient jump-off for exploring the city), you’ll find the stately Casa San Augustin, a luxurious haven and well-maintained architectural gem of a colonial home, comprised of white-washed walls, red-tiled roofs, and wood accented windows. Guests end each day in the photogenic pool courtyard full of gorgeous tiling and tropical plants. Then there’s the library, a chic bar, and guest rooms with canopy beds, exposed-wood ceilings and sweeping city views. The staff goes above and beyond, whether it’s breakfast in bed, a thoughtfully prepared cocktail, or expert recommendations for exploring the city.
Jose Ignacio, Uruguay
This Uruguayan estancia provides guests with the grand essentials of gaucho life: fantastic horseback riding adventures, fine wine (often from the owner’s own vineyards), and meat cooked over a fire. The drive up and initial walk-through are breathtaking: high ceilings, repeating archways, and exposed natural brick and wood imitating the stark grandeur of the surrounding pampas, polo fields, and grazing plains. Gorgeous art and highly-curated interior design give the resort the vibe of a hip, eclectic mansion. Access to neighboring sister resorts—Playa Vik Jose Ignacio and Bahia Vik Jose Ignacio—make it easy to dive into the surrounding area’s ritzy beach scene.
Weird & Wonderful
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Walking into the converted brick warehouse known as the Faena Hotel is like walking into an eccentric millionaire’s mansion, if that eccentric millionaire was promising you one of the most luxurious and unique hotel stays of your life. The service is top-notch, and a short list of what you’ll find within these funky walls includes the only hammam in Buenos Aires, an all-white bistro decorated with unicorn heads, and possibly the best tango show in the country. Everything about this place, from the red, luscious decor to the knick-knack-filled restaurants to the pool topped with a gold crown are fun, quirky, and outrageously over-the-top in the best way possible.
Cheap & Chic
Hotel Santa Teresa Rio MGallery by Sofitel
Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Hidden in plain view on a windy cobblestone street high in the hills of one of Rio’s coolest neighborhoods, Hotel Santa Teresa is an urban oasis. The coffee plantation-turned-boutique-hotel is one of the most stylish places to stay in the city, with simple rooms appointed with rustic-chic décor. Most of the rooms have a balcony that opens to the courtyard, revealing one of the hotel’s best assets—the absolutely breathtaking view. The location is ideal for exploring Rio off the beach, with easy access to the restaurants and art galleries of Santa Teresa, and a short walk or ride away from Lapa, the heart of Rio’s wild nightlife scene. But you’d be seriously missing out if you didn’t laze away a day here, setting up camp by the pool, getting a massage, or ordering room service.
Tried & True
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the El Convento Cusco is that you can breathe. At 11,000 feet up, that’s rare in this city. But they pump oxygen in through the vents at El Convento, keeping your lungs happy. The second thing will be the cup of coca tea they hand you at check-in, which despite its ingredients, is wonderfully soothing. And just like that, you’ll be relaxed. And that feeling will linger throughout your stay, as will the wondrous sense of being in the midst of history. As the name suggests, the property was once a convent built in the 16th century. The property does everything it can to remind you of what once was–artifacts are around every corner and local artisans sit in a grand courtyard weaving alpaca knitwear as others in the city have done for centuries. It’s most likely you’re in town to head off to Machu Picchu, but the problem is the El Convento is so relaxing, so beautiful, that you’ll be tempted instead to while your hours away on the grounds.
You’ve never seen views like this–the scenery, yes, but more exciting, the rhea birds flittering past your room window, wild horses tromping along as you sit on the deck, or even a herd of guanaco grazing in the distance from where you soak in the hottub in the Tierra Patagonia Hotel. All the while, the spectacular Towers of Paine loom over Lake Sarmiento in the distance on the edge of famed Torres del Paine National Park. There isn’t a bad view to be seen, even at night when the landscape pitches black and the stars bloom across the sky.
UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa
Sultry, stylish, and secluded, this eco-chic paradise is the epitome of low-key luxury. Perched above the Atlantic Ocean in the heart of quaint Trancoso, Brazil, UXUA is luxury redefined—natural materials, private plunge pools, and handmade details complete 11 individual casitas in a lush jungle setting improbably just a few steps from the town’s main square. It is pure paradise and heaven on earth, with thoughtful minimalist construction that lets the outside in. You could spend a lifetime lazing away under the palm trees and listening to Joao Gilberto, but the beach beckons. And you don’t want to miss this beach—one of the highlights of a stay at UXUA is the chic beach club just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, with plush loungers, a restaurant, and a bar reserved for hotel guests.