Villa la Angostura, Argentina

Las Balsas

Rates from (ex tax)$350.00

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD423.50), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Rugged good looks

Setting

Top of the lake

Brooding, ruggedly handsome Las Balsas stares out across a glassine lake, like the archetypal Argentinian gaucho. A master of its environment and totally at one with it, it stands with macho-like surety against a backdrop of furrowed mountains, surveying the glacial lake of Nahuel Huapi and its surrounding national park, Argentina's oldest. It’s all about open fires and sturdy materials at this Patagonian pensión, where thick stone walls and antique wooden floors abound. But there’s a softer side, too: a restaurant that fills the stomach; a spa that soothes the soul.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

The choice of a Tired Legs or Reflexology massage for each guest

Facilities

Photos Las Balsas facilities

Need to know

Rooms

10, including six suites.

Check–Out

Noon, but flexible. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $350.00, excluding tax at 21 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD350.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates are half-board, including an American breakfast and three-course evening meal with soft drinks.

Also

It may seem strange to be talking about the beach in Patagonia, but Las Balsas has one, so vamos a la playa! Head down to the hotel’s lakeshore for a misty morning stroll or a sunset drink… there are even loungers.

Hotel closed

The hotel closes between 1 May and 30 June; and 26 December and 2 January.

At the hotel

An honesty bar, spa, WiFi, fitness area, dedicated concierge for excursions, lakefront location and 50 acres of surrounding forest. In rooms: a bottle of malbec wine, L'Occitane toiletries, a vanity kit, robes, slippers, a hair dryer, free minibar, free bottled water, TV, iPod dock, CD player and radio.

Our favourite rooms

With their earthy ochre-and-clay hues, the five Corner Suites show off Las Balsas’s handsome-yet-homey feel. We love the combination of hardwood floors, textured rugs, antique furniture and crisp, white linens, spread over king- or twin-size beds. In the bathroom, the traditional feel continues with clawfoot baths, terracotta tiles and wicker accessories. But you can’t ignore the view: large windows give way onto the lake and the hotel’s quaint waterside dock.

Poolside

After a day out exploring this part of northern Patagonia, the indoor/outdoor pool provides an enticing prospect. It has two areas: a heated section, tucked within the cosseting spa; and an alfresco extension, beside the lake. There’s a deck too, with parasols and loungers (more for relaxing, than working on your Patagonian tan). Between 6pm-10pm, it’s for adults only, meaning grown-ups can unwind before warming up in the lakefront Jacuzzi.

Spa

In a stand-alone building beside the lake, the 200sq m Las Balsas Spa is just what the doctor ordered after all that exertion. Two treatment rooms are earmarked for holistic massages, mud-therapy facials, body scrubs and more. Jet showers and a toasty sauna cap off the indulgence. Pre and post treatment, there’s also a snug to relax in, with woven Argentinian textiles, a large velvet sofa and a snack menu of trout carpaccio, cheeses and carrot soup.

Packing tips

With three layers in one, the North Face Tri-Climate jacket is ideal for greeting the changeable Patagonian climate.

Also

Oenophiles take note: the hotel has a cave-like wine cellar packed with 150 Argentinian labels and grape varieties ranging from malbec to cabernet sauvignon.

Children

Over-6s welcome; although Las Balsas is more suited to children aged 13 and above, who can best take advantage of the area’s many outdoor activities.

Food and Drink

Photos Las Balsas food and drink

Top Table

Facing towards the lakeshore, all tables have a fantastic view, but we especially love number seven for its window-front position.

Dress Code

Casual and informal: cosy lambs’ wool jumpers and well-worn jeans.

Hotel restaurant

Patagonian classics are cooked with fine-dining flair at Las Balsas Restaurant. Chef Franco Pautasso turns out refined starters of prawns in a seafood bisque, followed by mains of Patagonian trout with creamy, pumpkin-and-lemon purée. Argentinians are known for their sweet tooth, so make sure you save space for postres (desserts). We’re eyeing the passion-fruit panna cotta with white-chocolate crumble…  

Hotel bar

Cosy couches abound in the bar (bag one of the Chesterfields, if you’re quick). It serves a snack-style menu of bruschettas and tapas, as well as trout carpaccio, sandwiches and lamb burgers. But let’s be real: we’re really here for the drinks, which include 150 wines, pisco sours, martinis and negronis. If you get a hankering for a midnight tipple (we’re not judging), there’s also an honesty bar, with single-malt whisky, tequila, cognac and grappa.

Last orders

Between hearty breakfasts and candlelit dinners, the restaurant is a nearly non-stop affair (7am–11.30pm). Breakfast is 7.30am–11am; lunch 12.30pm–3.45pm; dinner 8pm–11pm. Children are only allowed at lunch. One day, skip lunch in favour of afternoon tea.

Room service

You can order anything from the restaurant menu to your room between 7.30am and 11pm. Free minibars are also stocked with bottled water and soft drinks.

Location

Photos Las Balsas location
Address
Las Balsas
Cabellera de la Berenice 445
Neuquén
Q8407ZCA
Argentina

Planes

The area’s main hub, San Carlos de Bariloche airport, can be reached from Buenos Aires, El Calafate and Santiago. From Bariloche, it’s a one-hour (80 kilometre) drive to Las Balsas, via paved roads and scenic views. Another option is to fly into San Martín de los Andes, which has flights from Buenos Aires only, and takes two hours (120 kilometres) to transfer to Las Balsas. The Smith24 team can arrange flights and transfers.

Automobiles

There are various car rental outposts at Bariloche airport. Driving to Las Balsas is simple: follow the road from the parking lot to Ruta 237; go right and then straight ahead for a few kilometres; cross the Limay River and continue until you see the lake on your left; at the crossroads, turn left onto Ruta 40 and continue straight for 50 minutes. Once you reach the ‘Bienvenidos a Villa La Angostura’ sign, keep driving until you see a sign for ‘Cerro Bayo’. A few metres ahead, by the ‘Cabañas La Estancia’ sign, turn left onto a gravel road. At the end, you will see signs for Las Balsas leading to the property, where there’s free on-site parking.

Worth getting out of bed for

Ignacio Centroni wears his ‘Clefs D'Or’ badge proudly, a sign that he’s achieved the international gold standard for concierges. A font of knowledge, he’s on hand to realise day trips and excursions. Highlights include hiking in the Arrayanes Forest; trekking in the Andean cordillera; fly-fishing on the Limay River; and kayaking on Lake Nahuel Huapi. Mountain trails and lakeside paths also make for good cycling and horse-riding territory. In winter, Las Balsas also acts as a base for ski breaks on Cerro Bayo – a 1,782m mountain, just behind the hotel. Open from mid July until late September, it offers access to two gondolas, 16 lifts and 31 green-to-black runs, extending to 6km. Snowshoeing, snow-tubing, a ski school and freestyle snowboard park are also available. Villa La Angostura is your main town: known as the ‘Garden of Patagonia’, it stands at the crossroads between the Lake District hubs of San Martín de los Andes and Bariloche, with a handful of low-rise wooden buildings, harbouring upmarket restaurants, shops and bars.

Local restaurants

A remote region of large distances, Patagonia keeps things local when it comes to cuisine. Specialities include the cordero al asador (lamb on an open fire), trucha a la parilla (grilled trout) and various jams, sauces and dressings made from local berries. Of course, Patagonia is also home to many satellite communities of German, Dutch, Croatian, Welsh and Italian immigrants, so you can eat your way around the world, too. In  Villa La Angostura, there’s La Encantada for stone-baked pizzas, Nicoletto for handmade pastas and Tinto Bistro, which is owned by Martín Zorreguieta, the brother of the Queen of the Netherlands (no less). Gran Neva is best for hearty Argentinian portions; Lancomilla for traditional grilled dishes; and Los Troncos for classic mountain cuisine, such as deer- and wild-mushroom stew.

Reviews

Photos Las Balsas reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from Las Balsas in Argentina and unpacked their gaucho-style campero hat, a full account of their Patagonian break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Las Balsas…

A glacial lake marks your arrival at Las Balsas, which stands in serene isolation amid a serrated backdrop of Andean peaks. With a prime position at the north end of Patagonia, in the heart of the Argentinian Lake District, it would be easy to say it’s all about the location here. Yes, there’s hiking, horse-riding, cycling, kayaking and fly-fishing on the doorstep. But after a day out exploring the Nahuel Huapi Lake and its attendant national park (Argentina’s oldest), decent digs are a must. Opened in 1988, with a quaint blue clapboard exterior that reflects the colour of the lake, Las Balsas retains high standards when it comes to self-improvement. A fine-dining restaurant and a smart spa have been added over the intervening 30 years, yet the same cosy, time-worn feel remains. It’s lakeside luxury, without pretension.

 

The Guestbook

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