South America in style: The boutique hotel you’ll find on an enchanting island, off Chile’s Lake District coast

  • A stylish  makeover of the Tierra Chiloe hotel is putting Chiloe Island on the map
  • The 24-room retreat has panoramic views and every bathtub overlooks the sea
  • Activities are included in the price, from sea kayaking to trekking on horseback

 Venturing into the woods on the Chilean island of Chiloe, you should guard against a small goblin — the Trauco. He’s renowned for ravishing young women.

This ugly creature, with stumps for feet, is just one of the mythical beings on this archipelago, a mile off the coast of Chile’s Lake District.

But don’t be put off.

Sea views: The Tierra Chiloe, where Sarah stayed, overlooks an inlet of the Pacific Ocean

The islands are beautiful with lush, green scenery, rolling hills and seas filled with whales, dolphins and sea lions.

Chiloe has an intriguing past, too.

The first indigenous group in this misty archipelago were the nomadic seafarers known as the Chonos.

Later, the invading Spaniards brought their customs to the islands.

These days, tourists arrive in the pursuit of leisure.

On the main island, Isla Grande, near the capital, Castro, is a wonderfully luxurious place to stay.

The real deal: The cosy  hotel is filled with sumptuous textiles made from local wool

The Tierra Chiloe looks traditional from the outside — a wooden palafito (built on stilts) overlooking an inlet of the Pacific, but inside it’s filled with blond wood, sumptuous textiles made from local wool and log fires.

Newly refurbished, it has 24 rooms, each one a cosy retreat from the ever-changing weather.

There are panoramic views and every bathtub overlooks the sea.

At Tierra Chiloe, exploring the island is included in the price of your stay. We go for it — kayaking to spot penguins and chugging to different islands aboard the hotel’s boat.

On land, we go trekking by horse along the coast, while other guests opt for gentle hikes or visit Unesco protected 18th-century churches.

Local life: Colorful houses on stilts, known as palafitos, in the capital city of Castro

Later, we ease our saddle-sore bottoms in the spa and dip into the outdoor infinity pool — more views.

We become experts in the nalco sour — a twist on the traditional Chilean pisco sour cocktail — and enjoy delicious seafood, native potatoes and local spring lamb.

Sitting on the terrace with its open fire, we watch as night descends and stars pierce the sky.

Now and again there’s a gentle splash.

Perhaps it’s La Pincoya, the mermaid who heralds the abundance of fish, a good omen in this magical place.


Journey Latin America (, 020 8600 1881) offers an eight-day holiday to Chile with three nights at the Tierra Chiloe from £3,558pp.

Includes flights, first-class hotels in Santiago and Puerto Varas, most meals, transfers and excursions.


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