Puerto Varas's Hidden Hotel Gem

Los Caiquenes Hotel

A Lakes District stay that deserves a side trip

Because of Latam and Sky airlines’ limited flight schedules, at some point during a trip to southern Chile, travelers could find themselves with no choice other than to overnight near the airport in Puerto Montt. Bypass the 221,000-person working-class port city and instead head 20 minutes north to the 41,000-person town of Puerto Varas, located on Chile’s second-largest lake, Llanquihue. Here, a 20-minute drive from the picturesque German-inspired downtown, awaits the darling boutique hotel Los Caiquenes (rooms from $305; 5 Camino a Ensenada, Ruta 225, km. 9; 56-9/8159-0489; hotelloscaiquenes.cl).

It’s no coincidence that the hotel feels like a residence: It was owner Isabel Duhalde’s home, which she shared with her husband, Hector de Mussy, for 18 years. When their kids moved out, rather than retire, the couple decided to turn their house into a hotel. Since 2011, she has been the intuitive hostess and he the fabulous chef. The hotel’s simplicity is what makes it perfect. It has only two floors, with eight differently decorated guest rooms, a large living room with unobstructed panoramic lake views, a dining room with eight tables, and an outdoor pool and hot tub.

There is no reason to venture into town for dinner. The hotel serves impeccable no-frills Chilean gastronomy. Cyclists are encouraged to linger a little longer than one night, as Puerto Varas has good road biking.