Vegans beware: we’re about to use the words ‘sheep’ and ‘processing’ in the same sentence. The Singular Patagonia, on the cusp of the Last Hope Sound in far-flung Puerto Natales – gateway to Torres del Paine National Park – is a former sheep-processing plant turned luxury Chilean hotel. On your way to dinner, you’ll slip past rooms full of intact machinery or the old tannery, preserved as part of the rustic-luxe design of the hotel. Despite its end-of-the-earth setting, all creature comforts have been thought of, including a vast spa and top-notch restaurant where Patagonian cordero (lamb) is the speciality.
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A bottle of Chilean wine on arrival, plus (subject to availability) early check-in
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £344.56 ($445).
Rates usually include a generous buffet breakfast. All-inclusive and half-board options are also available. You won't need to ask for a tax refund, rates include 0% tax as foreign visitors are exempt from paying VAT.
Learn more about the hotel's history at the on-site museum, where you can delve into the building's industrial past as a sheep processing plant. The Puerto Bories Frigorifico opened in 1915 to provide a full-service slaughterhouse, including meat, skins, wool and tallow. Sounds grim, but it brought lots of jobs to the region and created the nearby town of Puerto Natales.
The hotel is closed between 17 April and 27 September 2017.
The Singular is pretty easygoing about where you catch your 40 winks, with a choice of just Rooms or Suites. We’d pick the latter for extra space (all that outdoorsy gear takes up a lot of room) and views of the Fjord of Last Hope Sound. Similar to the russet-red exterior of the new building where the rooms are located, both options are decorated in earthy tones and elements that give a nod to the Singular’s industrial past: picture polished concrete ceilings and straight-from-the-factory-floor copper lights. There’s a TV too, but you won’t be needing it: the only widescreen you’ll want to check out is the double-width windows.
Under a polished concrete ceiling, the indoor pool looks out over Last Hope Sound through floor-to-ceiling windows. A line of loungers surrounds the pool, which makes a dog-leg under a window and out into the Patagonian fresh air.
The Singular Spa pampers walking-weary feet with decongestant leg massages, hydrotherapy and hot-stone treatments in its four treatment rooms. The indoor-outdoor pool, hammam and sauna all overlook the placid fjord.
Respect the building’s ruminant heritage with shaggy sheepskin gilets and hardy leather boots.
Despite its location, the hotel is surprisingly accessible for mobility-impaired guests. There’s a funicular to access the lobby, a lift to the restaurant and ramps to all rooms. There is one wheelchair-adapted room on the ground floor.
All ages are welcome, but the terrain and activities on offer mean the hotel is best suited to older children. Extra beds can be added to all rooms.
The Singular Patagonia was awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the Green Building Council. The hotel has two private reserves spreading across 37,000 acres, maintaining the habitat of local plants and animals; it uses sustainable design elements such as water-conserving taps.
The intimate asador seats up to 40 guests and takes you on a culinary journey around Patagonia, with meats cooked on an open wood-burning grill. Try rabbit, lamb and guanaco.
Relaxed and casual – leave anything brightly coloured in your room.
In a wood-beamed room warmed by a log-burning fire, chef Hernán Basso’s the Singular restaurant overlooks the placid waters of Last Hope Sound from its two floors. Given the building’s history with sheep, the menu raises the baa (ba-dum-tish) when it comes to modern reincarnations of lamb dishes: chops with white beans, or glazed lamb shank with Roquefort polenta, for example. The menu may be limited, though there are some interesting options such as guanaco fillet with husked wheat, and conger eel with scampi. Herbivores don’t get the thin end of the veg: there’s a special section of the menu just for vegetarians, with options including lentils slow-cooked in red wine with Swiss chard and mushrooms, or avocado soup. A wide selection of Chilean wines accompanies the food. A second restaurant, El Asador, is located in the old blacksmith’s workshop, for intimate dining and traditional fare; empanadas and local rhubarb ice-cream are highlights.
Sip a Calafate sour (Pisco, lemon, sugar, Calafate juice) under the warm lights of the bar, located in the old part of the hotel that dates back to 1915. Post-Victorian architecture and an industrial-meets-maritime style complements the lengthy wine list of local vintages; there are 75 different Chilean wines to work your way through. We’ll say salud to that.
Breakfast is served from 7am–10am. The Singular is open for lunch from 1pm–3pm and dinner from 7.30pm–10.30pm; El Asador serves dinner between 7.30pm and 10.30pm. The bar is open from 10am until 11.30pm.
Served from 6am until 11pm, room service includes salads, sandwiches and charcuterie. The free minibar includes water and soft drinks.
The tiny hamlet of Puerto Bories was settled by the Brits who created a sheep-processing plant (slaughterhouse, meatpacking, tannery). Now home to the Singular, it’s just three kilometres from Puerto Natales, gateway to Torres del Paine National Park.
Fly direct to Santiago from the UK with British Airways (www.britishairways.com); indirect flights can be found with Alitalia via Rome and Aeroméxico via Mexico City. From the States, hop on a flight with United (www.united.com) or American Airlines (www.aa.com), both of which fly from a number of US airports, including Houston and Miami. You’ll then need to take an internal flight to Punta Arenas or, in high season, Puerto Natales. Regional flights are operated by Latam (www.lan.com) and Sky Airline (www.skyairline.cl). The hotel can organise return transfers from Punta Arenas for US$290.
Hire a car and the whole area opens up to you; a sturdy set of wheels is usually enough to cope with the area’s dirt roads; in winter, you’ll need a four-wheel drive. Petrol stations are few and far between, so it’s worth topping up the tank whenever you spot one, even if it’s still quite full. If you’re driving from Punta Arenas it’s around two and a half hours to the Singular; it’s also possible to drive from El Calafate in Argentina, which takes about four hours, depending on the border crossing. Hotel parking is free.
Worth getting out of bed for
Start on your front doorstep: the hotel’s history is worth delving into. On a one-hour tour you’ll learn all about the journey from sheep-processing plant to luxury hotel, which has been restored by descendants of the first pioneers that settled the region. Whether you’re into hiking or cycling, horse riding or watersports (or prefer to just hunker down with a good book), the hotel offers a huge variety of excursions. Trek out into southern Patagonia and view lakes and waterfalls; take to two wheels and cycle around the fjord; mount a sturdy steed for a day horseriding with the huasos (Chilean cowboys) on a traditional estancia (private estate). The hotel has bikes, kayaks and even a privately-owned boat to take you to the Serrano Glacier. With the Torres del Paine National Park an hour away, the possibilities for exploring are endless.
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 this luxury hotel in Patagonia and unpacked their sheepskin rugs and walking boots, a full account of their break in the mountains will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Singular Patagonia in Puerto Natales…
It’s not often you’ll find the opportunity to stay in a former abattoir, but when you do, it’s best to do it in style. The Singular Patagonia may have slightly, um, grisly roots as a sheep-processing plant, but it’s a hotel that wholeheartedly embraces its history. On your walk to breakfast, you might pass through the tannery; on your way to bed, you may have to navigate through the post-Victorian machinery. Dinner can be enjoyed in the old blacksmithery. As much as possible has been preserved, with a new wing added to the building where rooms and suites overlook the calmly flowing waters of Last Hope Sound. All around, sheep and guanacos graze, safe in the knowledge that the processing days are over; they might not want to rest too easy: the restaurant is famous for its innovative modern-Chilean cuisine, especially its glazed lamb shank and guanaco fillet.
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