The Best Hotels
These South American hotels bring authenticity to their brand by looking outward: toward the environment and the local community. Regional craftspeople and artisans make the furniture and decor by hand in Cartegena. An eco-paradise in Brazil dedicates itself to employing local staff, as well as generating renewable energy. Gain exclusive off-hours access to one of the continent’s most impressive sites, Iguassu National Park and Falls. And a stay in a hotel at the end of the world has no televisions but views to keep your attention rapt for hours. These hotels proved this extraordinary continent is a sight to behold every which way you turn.
Blue Apple Beach House
Located on the beautiful island of Bocachica, just off the coast of Cartagena, Blue Apple Beach House was once a beautiful private residence. Marrying the luxury beach hotel experience with a laid-back hostel vibe, this trendy hotel caters to travelers who want refinement without stuffiness. The Mediterranean-inspired design highlights exposed wood with splashes of white and blue that provide an elevated aesthetic to the property.
Everything at the hotel’s restaurant is made from scratch with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, and some of the rooms have private plunge pools and sea views. But there are also raucous parties with live DJs for overnight guests as well as day-trippers. The resident artist program ensures that there’s a stream of creatives bringing their diverse talents to the hotel, often in the form of fun classes for guests. Environmental and economic sustainability efforts are also part of the hotel’s philosophy. Local craftspeople and artisans make the furniture and decor by hand. Solar power provides electricity and excess coffee grounds are used to make complimentary cookies for guests. When you’re ready to stop lounging by the beach club, island activities include horseback riding by the seashore, scuba diving, and boat tours.
Carmel Taiba Exclusive Resort
If lavish comfort is what you’re after, then Carmel Taiba Exclusive Resort ticks all the right boxes. Located smack in Brazil’s tropical zone on the northeastern coast of Ceara, this intimate resort hovers above a rock that protrudes over the balmy shores of the Taiba fisherman’s beach. From here, wake up for a dip in your glistening private infinity pool overlooking Taiba’s stunning natural beauty, before savoring a floating breakfast platter of fresh fruits.
Signed by landscape architect Alex Hanazi, the resort is divided into five lavish modern villas spanning over 12,000 square meters (129,000 square feet) of outdoor space, with its reflecting pool, gazebo, decks, ground fire, and rolling garden areas specifically designed to awaken all the five senses. If you do ever manage to tear yourself away from your plush villa, there’s plenty of adventure to be had: translucent turquoise pools, pristine lakes, long-stretches of rugged palm-lined sands, or kitesurf and buggy ride thrills along Taiba beach’s seashores piled high with wind-scalloped dunes–it’s home to the world’s first wind-power plant built on sand dunes. As well as generating renewable energy, Carmel Taiba also dedicates itself to employing local staff, making this resort a true eco-paradise.
Cavas Wine Lodge
Nestled in between the foothills of the Andes mountains and the verdant vineyards just outside Argentina’s wine capital of Mendoza, sits the plush Cavas Wine Lodge. A boutique property comprising just 18 guest rooms and villas, it offers both intimacy and privacy. Rooms are both rustic and chic, decked in natural materials of stone, wood, and cotton in understated tones. Each features a romantic terrace, complete with a roaring fireplace, a private plunge pool, hot tub, and outdoor shower, so you can make the most of the spectacular surrounding mountain views.
When you’re feeling hungry, the elegant restaurant, featuring wrought-iron chandeliers and giant photos of gauchos (Argentinean cowboys) on the ceiling, is sure to satisfy. Serving up organic seasonal mains, dishes are accompanied by the lodge’s very own wines; try the fruity white Torrontes. There’s more wine tasting to be had in this vineyard-rich region with picturesque views competing from all angles. When you’ve had your fill of Malbec, relax in the Moorish-inspired spa to ready your body for the next day’s horseback riding adventure.
Located in the attractive, green Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, Factoria Hotel, as the name suggests, was built to look like an old-fashioned factory. Oozing sophistication and industrial chic, its large and spacious rooms feature exposed brick walls and wood paneling. Modern design meets period glamor, where antique 19th-century furniture and historic gilt-framed oil paintings sit alongside fresh clean lines and contemporary artwork. Huge mirrors, old-fashioned wooden wardrobes, and free-standing tubs complete the look.
The common areas, including snug lounges and a wood-paneled library, welcome you with overstuffed armchairs and cozy fireplaces. The hotel’s contemporary restaurant Ofelia is set in an elegant double-height space and offers a varied menu of both traditional Paraguayan delights like carne asada (grilled meats) and international favorites from tortellini to mushroom risotto, as well as an impressive selection of wine. When you want to relax, cool down in the outdoor pool and unwind under the leafy palm trees in the garden.
Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa
A former 17th-century Carmelite convent, Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa puts on full display the beauty of Spanish colonial architecture. Though renovations ensure guests all necessary modern comforts, the hotel has kept the structure and features of the original building, as well as an adjacent 19th-century addition that once served as a school and military headquarters. Countless arches, balconies, inner courtyards, and symmetrical fountains serve to enhance the beauty of the historic hotel, which is located within the UNESCO-listed walled city of Cartagena.
Three dining options offer international and local flavors to guests. Go to La Terraza for a casual lunch with magnificent views of the modern side of the city. For a more refined experience, you can choose between Harry’s Cartagena Restaurant—headed by Colombia’s most famous chef, Harry Sasson—and Plaza Santa Teresa, which proffers traditional regional food and an incredible open-air ambiance. At the Plaza, you’ll get views of the San Pedro Claver Cathedral, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, and enjoy the live music, dance performances, and movement of the public part of the square. Other hotel amenities include a rooftop pool and solarium, a gym, and a luxury spa.
Hotel das Cataratas
Iguaçu Falls, Brazil
Fringed by vibrant rainforest and roaring waterfalls lies Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, a serene pastel-pink hacienda—notably the only property ensconced within Brazil’s Iguassu National Park. Guests here enjoy exclusive access to the heavily-touristed park outside regular hours (before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m), where visitors can soak up unrivaled views of fluttering butterflies along with over 400 birds of paradise, a kaleidoscopic array of tropical flora, and rare endangered wildlife in near solitude.
Beyond the hotel’s sculpted grounds, freshly renovated guest rooms and suites exude a timeless and airy feel, with chic Portuguese colonial-style decor, plush furnishings, and sweeping jungle balcony vistas. After a day filled with adventurous eco-tours, unwind by the poolside with a caipirinha in hand or tuck into a churrasco-style barbeque. Alternatively, swap the sun-lounger for an indulgent spa massage infused with sustainable aromas plucked straight from the rainforest. At nightfall, exquisite dinners and discoveries of Brazil’s uncharted wine bottles cloistered in the Cataratas wine cellar are on the menu.
Set in the heart of the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, this intriguing architectural wonder—the hotel is shaped like a wooden cone—is simply enchanting. Hotel Nothofagus offers several types of rooms, all marked by rustic yet rich wooden walls and minimalist décor, none with a TV, thanks to the property’s “bedroom disconnect” policy. But who needs a television when you’ve got windows like these: enormous plates of pristine glass revealing spectacular views of the Patagonian forest.
Made for relaxing and connecting with nature, the entire property exudes Earth goddess vibes, ideal for unplugging and recharging your hard-working batteries. An on-site two-level restaurant and bar offers a daily buffet so you can fuel up on the local cuisine after an afternoon hiking. Each of the property’s two pools is inviting, as is the sauna. Do bookmark a couple of days for exploration. After all, it’s not every day you have a chance to go horseback riding at the end of the world.
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Aguas Calientes, Peru
Nestled in the Andes mountains of Peru, travelers can find themselves enjoying a luxury travel experience amid Andean history at Inkaterra Macchu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. The hotel has a variety of casitas ranging from superior rooms to a villa of your own where you can enjoy your private terrace, plunge pool, and around-the-clock butler service. All rooms are designed with Andean art and culture in mind to keep guests connected with the relaxing energy of the surrounding mountains. With the Machu Picchu Archaeological site a mere bus ride away, guests can explore the ruins at sunrise with a private guide—it’s the prettiest time of day here, and it’s also before the masses descend.
After a full day of walking in Machu Picchu, you can soothe your aching muscles and indulge in an Andean-style spa treatment that uses natural and locally sourced products such as uña de gato or cat’s claw extract, coca leaf, and quinoa oil at the hotel’s Unu Spa. To complete the experience, dinner at Inkaterra’s restaurant, dishing up first-class Peruvian cuisine with a backdrop of the Vilcabamba mountain range, is a must. If you still have the energy for exploring, the hotel offers complimentary excursions such as a walk on its nature trail, orchid trail, or a twilight walk for additional communing with Mother Nature.
Nayara Alto Atacama
Atacama Desert, Chile
There’s a mystical quality to staying in the desert, and it’s best enhanced by fully immersing yourself in the surreal experience of barren, breathtaking landscapes. A stay at Nayara Alto Atacama is sure to augment your awe. Between the hotel’s adobe walls are colorful, clean designs, along with cozy touches like macrame hangings and handwoven throws, the decor is representative of locally sourced goods and craftsmanship. When you aren’t snuggling into your warm adobe abode, you can enjoy sweeping views of the moonscape desert with its Andes backdrop from your terrace or patio view.
Though the main draw of the hotel is the proximity to the Atacama desert–one of the driest places on earth where you can spot vicuñas and flamingos among the salt flat lagoons, hike through the stone and sand formations of the alien-like landscape of Valle de la Luna, climb the Láscar Volcano, or check out the El Tatio Geysers–you can also spend your mornings soaking in mineral hot spring pools and afternoons chilling with a herd at the llama corral. Come evening, settle in on the restaurant’s outdoor patio for asado-style barbeque, best paired with a big bottle of locally-produced, sommelier-selected wine, sipped while stargazing at what seems like the whole universe.
The Singular Patagonia
Sitting at what seems like the edge of the world, the Singular, Patagonia is situated in the Chilean fjord lands. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and icy glaciers, to the north lies the famous Torres del Paine National Park and to the south, the gateway to Antarctica. Housed inside an old refrigeration factory, the hotel is anything but cold and featureless. Historic industrial vibes, old-fashioned machinery, and cozy sumptuous spaces abound throughout. The rooms are homey yet luxurious, but it’s the incredible views that are everything here, taking up one whole wall of each of the 57 rooms through floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows. Wake up to the wild windswept views of the fjord lands each morning while you sip your coffee in bed.
The Singular Restaurant and Bar are housed in a huge open factory hall complete with vaulted ceilings and original industrial decor, where you can enjoy local Patagonian dishes such as their specialty lamb and handcrafted cocktails—order the Chilean Pisco Sour. Or choose El Asador, where traditional Chilean barbecues of wood-fired meats and vegetables are cooked up in the 100-year-old former blacksmith’s forge. Add on an indulgent spa and excursions such as horseback riding and glacial visits, and you’ll soon understand what all the fuss is about.