Desert Life

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The wooden cabanas at the Hotel Elqui Domos stand tall above their desert habitat.

The wooden cabanas at the Hotel Elqui Domos stand tall above their desert habitat. Image: James Florio

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Looking from the living space to the bedroom and views beyond.

Looking from the living space to the bedroom and views beyond. Image: James Florio

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The upper-loft bedroom.

The upper-loft bedroom. Image: James Florio

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Bordering the Atacama Desert in Chile’s Andes Mountains, Valle de Elqui boasts an abundance of natural assets including a stable, hot climate favourable for wine growing and postcard-clear skies coupled with high natural magnetism for some of the best star gazing in the Southern Hemisphere. Not surprisingly, within this desert valley a handful of tourism providers have capitalised on the region’s bounty, providing focused eco and astronomical experiences to travellers and spiritual wanderers alike.

Resting in the heart of the valley, Hotel Elqui Domos puts esoteric offerings aside and instead proffers a unique accommodation experience through its irregular spatial composition. The original complex was designed by architects Rodrigo Duque Motta as a series of seven geodesic dome tents, providing a ‘glamping’ experience of sorts. More recently, the hotel has benefitted from the addition of four wooden cabanas, each intended as a private observatory and space for introspection. Perching very lightly on the landscape, the cabins are reminiscent of little creatures with wide eyes negotiating the views of the valley and mountain from opposing sides. Their stilt-like foundations are sympathetic to the surrounding vegetation and topographical variations in the land, and the upper roof decks accentuate their privileged position within the site’s geography.

Indoors, the living space is situated on the lower floor while the bedroom takes the upper loft level. A soft, neutral palette is used throughout to create a sense of restfulness and direct the focus outdoors. From the large windows spanning the entire width of each building, one can look out and quite literally believe they are lying beneath the stars.

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