Sleepover: Tolkeyen Hotel

A bed in Argentina

Mark Rowe
Friday 15 November 2013 04:59
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Where is it?

On the outskirts of Ushuaia, which Argentina claims is the southernmost town in the world. Few people will ever sleep this far south: here you are at the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of both Argentina and the world.

What's it like?

A ranch-style, one-storey affair, made of wood and based in the forested grounds of an old estancia, or farmholding. A huge chess set and comfortable sofas fill the entrance hall. Similarly outsized windows enable you to admire the view. The trees in the grounds are bent double by the unforgiving wind that hurtles down from the mountains, though the lupins somehow manage to stay upright. A free minibus regularly runs into the centre of Ushuaia, taking about 15 minutes. It's hushed and quiet here, except for the occasional howling of the wind which is enough to drive most people to the restaurant for a snug glass of port. If the clouds blow away then stargazing is wonderful: the night skies this far south are incredibly clear.

What's its USP?

An incredibly beautiful setting, surrounded by the Andes and fronted by the Beagle Channel, immortalised by Charles Darwin. Nearby is a small island permanently covered with birds. At sunset the mountains and sky provide an unforgettable combination of pinks and reds. Behind is Glacier Martial, a popular trekking route in summer and buzzing with skiers in winter.

Service?

Excellent and friendly. We arrived early and, while our room was prepared, staff gave us complimentary coffee and fruit and told us with some passion about what an exciting time lay ahead of us in Tierra del Fuego.

Rooms?

Thirty rooms laid out on a T-shaped grid over one floor. Equipped with all mod cons, including satellite TV. The highlight is the luxurious bath which can also operate as a Jacuzzi. Rooms from £60 for a standard double. Ask for a room on the west side where you get the views of the Beagle Channel, though your window panes will take a pounding during storms.

Food?

This is Argentina, so beef dominates the menu in the delightful wooden restaurant with its wide windows. Soup seemed to come straight out of a tin but the main dish of cod and herb sauce was delicious. Reasonably priced at around £12 for two people, including a bottle of local merlot. Breakfast is an all-you-can-eat buffet included in the room rate featuring freshly chilled fruit salad and moreish croissants.

Clientele?

Mixture of well-to-do Americans preparing to go or resting after a cruise to Antarctica and travelling couples giving themselves a well-earned treat after overlanding the length of South America.

Things to do?

The path to the glacier can be walked in two hours and is worth it for the views. Bring your binoculars and study the abundant wildlife, including cormorants and the odd stray seal. Nearby is the Tierra del Fuego National Park, with more lovely walks and views.

Address?

Tolkeyen Hotel, Estancia San Pipo, Kilometer 5, Ushuaia, Argentina (00 54 2901 445317). It's usually cheaper to book a package through a travel agent such as Journey Latin America (020-8747 8315; www.journeylatinamerica.com).

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