HOTEL POSADA 3 PASOS
The Harsh Reality
We spent a lot of time looking for accommodations in, or at least quite near, the Torres del Paine National Park. However, no matter what options we looked at (apart from tenting in the back country of the park itself) we found prices to be astonishingly high. There are several intriguing eco-hotel concepts near the park, all of them offering all-inclusive packages (i.e.: guided hikes in the park; meals) that were very expensive (routinely in the range of $750 - $1,000 USD/person/day) and fully booked even nine months out from our visit – not like we could have afforded them anyway! In the park itself there are only a very few options, none of which could be described as luxurious, that were available for – wait for it – anywhere from $750 - $1,000 USD per night. Too rich for our blood.
Searching Booking.com we found Hotel Posada 3 Pasos, which was reasonably priced at $170 USD/night and had a long list of glowing reviews. This charming inn is located along the main road that takes people from Puerto Natales to points north or to the Torres Del Paine park. More on the inn itself later.
Meat and Potatoes
140km round trip into Torres Del Paine National Park
20min drive to Puertos Natales
Full Service Restaurant
Lounge with Fireplace
Getting there was straightforward. We flew into Punta Arenas from Santiago and grabbed a taxi from the airport for a 20 minute drive into town and a quick overnight stay at a charming little auberge called Apartementos Entre Fronteras. After wandering Punta Arenas for a couple of hours we enjoyed a lovely dinner with some delicious Chilean wine, then settled in for a lovely sleep in the fresh ocean air.
The next day it was back out to the airport to pick up our rental car for the approximately 2 ½ hour drive to our hotel. Overall the going was easy with the use of our TomTom, though we did get misdirected at the outskirts of Puerto Natales and ended up driving hither, thither and yon through the town before our TomTom found its brain again and got us back on the main road to the hotel. Puerto Natales is a crowded little town, filled with travellers and fishermen. During this meandering we saw that it was full of hostels - some seemed charming and inviting while others looked pretty run down. For anyone considering staying in Puerto Natalas, we recommend being thorough in your research!
Hotel Posada 3 Pasos
Hotel Posada 3 Pasos sits amongst a beautiful bed of flowers, with lovely views of a giant meadow and hills in the distance. We adored the view from our room; the light from the rising sun (which we greeted each morning as we prepared for our adventures in the National Park) played across the meadows and distant hills, combining with the crisp, fresh morning air to imbue us with a sense of seclusion and peacefulness.
The main reason we stayed at this hotel was for easy access to the park. With this in mind, we weren't very interested in evening entertainment - by the time we finished hiking we'd be tired and really just wanted a good meal, time to read a book and a good night's sleep, aided immensely by the fresh air. This is an escape from civilization that gave us a real feeling of being embraced by the vastness of the land.
Getting to Torres Del Paine
After each breakfast we would pack our gear and head off into the park. While we had to plan our day to accommodate the 140 km round trip to the Torres del Paine each day, the $830 USD price difference between our hotel and those on the Park made the math pretty easy to work out! The drive to and from each day was routine and very pretty, so we didn’t mind having to factor in the extra time and fuel cost/logistics (*Note: this is an important point. The Hotel is 38 km from Puerto Natales and the nearest gas stations, so we had to watch the fuel gauge and do one quick evening trip into town to fill up our tank for the second half of our week).
The Rooms and Common Areas
When we arrived we were taken by the beautiful, cottage-like hotel that evoked images of a German country farm with white stucco walls lined charmingly with dark wood. The coziness extends into the hotel itself with a beautiful cabin-like feel of rich woods and charming antiques.
Our room was big and spacious, with huge windows to let fresh air and lots of light flow through – and best of all we had loads of space to spread out our packs and hiking gear. There is a great seating area with a wood fireplace that is stoked to roaring welcome by a handsome worker each afternoon around dinnertime; it was a wonderful place to relax during the cool evenings.
And we’re not making this up; the Patagonia is a cool and windy place even during the summers so the evenings are cool (one of would even say cold if they weren't Canadian). The cozy queen-sized bed came layered with a duvet and blankets for good reason. While the blankets kept us nice and toasty in our bed, crawling out of them was a bracing affair. Bring warm PJs (and slippers or warm wool socks) to brave the brisk morning air that greets you upon awakening – but don’t let this put you off, it’s really lovely and refreshing, especially given the setting.
Breakfast was included with our stay. Each morning we would pad down the wooden staircase, the smell of freshly brewed coffee luring us to the dining room for the delicious breakfasts. Waiting for us each morning was a nice variety of cold cuts and cheeses, made to order eggs (they crushed scrambled eggs!), fresh baking, and very good coffee.
Service and Meals
Back at the hotel after a long day of hiking we enjoyed chatting with the friendly staff (they always made sure that at least one person on duty could speak fluent English – and the others were tolerant of our less-than-fluent Spanish!), all of whom were happy to accommodate any special requests we had. They would make us tea to accompany our reading by the common area fireplace, and were more than happy to indulge our addiction to pisco (and calafate) sours! After relaxing a bit we ate dinner at the hotel every evening, and were never disappointed. The food is varied and delicious – particularly the justifiably famous Magellanic lamb – but be warned: the portions are huge. Like "worked on a farm all day" HUGE – so much so that eventually we learned to order one main to share between the two of us!
The same folks who made our fireplace sojourns so comfortable also packed the most delicious take-away lunches for those hiking days when we wanted to indulge ourselves beyond the usual Larabar and Clif Bar fare. Delicious sandwiches, fruit, and enough cookies to share with all and sundry on the trails were pre-packed and ready for us whenever we asked; and they were always happy to fill our pack thermos with delicious freshly brewed tea each morning – such a treat.
Some final notes before we sign off with an obvious recommendation to stay at this hotel if you get a chance. Water pressure in the washroom was decent, but hot water took a long while to come on, and during the morning before breakfast you had to shower fast as the hot water was in somewhat short supply. But in the late-afternoon/evening this was never an issue so we simply took to showering then.
Electricity was turned off overnight, which seems to really irk some people –though we don’t really see why. The hotel is off the grid and has to supply its own power with a diesel generator (not an inexpensive proposition in a country that has to import every, single drop of gasoline and diesel that people use), so turning the power off at night is prudent. Just make sure that you’ve charged up your sundry devices before you go to bed. Alternatively, you can do what we did, which was to charge up our portable chargers while we were gone during the day and then used those to charge our phones overnight.
Sitting on a sprawling open meadow means the house is at the mercy of Patagonia's constant wind. On the nights where it was particularly strong, it howled over the house and cause wood to creak. We felt this added to the feeling of being in a secluded and wild place, but the sound sensitive might find it difficult. Also, being entirely wooden, the floors in our room groaned so loudly underfoot that sometimes we had to stop fussing about the room in order to clearly hear each other talk. We didn't encounter this anywhere outside our very own room, but it was amusingly notable (though perhaps not to the people in the room below us!).