Hotel Review: Hotel Mi Casa, Chaiten, Chile
Are you traveling to Chaiten, Chile and looking for the best hotel where to start your Carretera Austral experience? We stayed in Hotel Mi Casa and here's our review.
Despite its size, a small town Chaiten in Southern Chile is not a place to be skipped. On the contrary, for many travelers, it is a significant and unmissable stop on their itineraries. For us (as for many others), Chaiten was the beginning of our Patagonia trip while for the other group of visitors, the town means the end of the ultimately picturesque Carretera Austral journey. Either way, it doesn't matter if you travel by car, by bus or if you hitchhike your way north or south, there's still a good chance you will spend at least one night in Chaiten.
But it would have been a wrong assumption to think of Chaiten only as about first or last stop on Carretera Austral, as the town has more to offer to all mountains, volcanoes and overall all nature lovers. It is the closest town to Pumalin National Park which is definitely worth your time and effort to get there.
PUMALIN NATIONAL PARK
If you want to get a sense of Patagonia, head to Pumalin National Park where you can admire fjords, snow-capped mountains, glaciers or volcanoes. Right after our arrival, we did a hike to the viewpoint of Michinmahuida Glacier, and the other day we walked up the path to Chaiten Volcano and it was a great way how to begin our Chilean adventure. But those hikes are not the only things you can do here - kayaking, relaxing in hot springs, biking of fly fishing on one of the many lakes also belong among the most popular activities in the park.
Talking about volcanoes, it is almost impossible to write about Chaiten and not to mention the Chaiten Volcano eruption which happened in 2008. In that year, until then the dormant volcano violently erupted and covered a large part of southern Chile with ash. Residents of the Chaiten town had to be evacuated as the majority of it has been destroyed severely - it was so serious that today's town of Chaiten stands 10 kilometers north from the original one.
You might be wondering by now why being a part of Carretera Austral is such a big thing. The construction of the road has commenced in the eighties in order to connect the remote southern part of Chile. The difficult access and harsh weather conditions cause that the whole, more than 1000 kilometers long road has not been entirely paved yet. But for travelers, Carretera Austral is a symbol of a perfect road trip: with many lakes, glaciers, mountains and thick forests along the way this stretch of road belong among one of the most beautiful highways in the world.
Because of its popularity, especially during the summer months (December to March), Carretera Austral and natural attractions along the way are visited by thousands of local and foreign travelers and finding a pleasant accommodation becomes a daunting task. We will make it easier for you as in Chaiten we found a nice, comfortable and affordable hotel which will make your stay in the town exceptional.
HOTEL MI CASA
We couldn't have experienced more obvious difference within South America than crossing borders from cheap Bolivia to expensive Chile. Or at least expensive for us, budget long-term travelers. From time to time we don't mind to pay a bit more for accommodation to enjoy the comfort and take proper rest from being constantly on the road, but it was not until we had reached Chaiten, where we had a feeling that the price asked for is in balance with the quality and customer service.
Since we entered the Hotel Mi Casa, we had an instant feeling that we are genuinely welcomed. It probably corresponds to the fact that this hotel is family-owned by two Chilean siblings and from our own experience, you can always tell when you enter a place which is run by the family who takes care of everything. The atmosphere is relaxed, nothing is a problem, and the spirit of the well-taken care of house make for the home-like vibe. And because of our poor Spanish, we really appreciated the effort of Federico and Maria to speak English with us - not a standard in South America and surprisingly not even a standard in the tourism industry.
When it comes to location, it is hard to beat Hotel Mi Casa as it stands on one of the Chaiten's most privileged places, a small hill overlooking the town, ocean, Corcovado volcano (when it is clear) and other beautiful hills and mountains. Although the hotel is located almost at the end of Chaiten, you don't need to worry at all as the town is so small that you can reach all points of interests such as grocery stores, bank, square, information center, travel agencies or bus companies literally within five minutes. The advantage is the quiet and peaceful environment where you can slow down and feel like at home.
Overall, when staying at this place in Chaiten, you won't have a problem with connections as buses regularly go north to Puerto Montt, or south along the Carretera Austral to Futaleufu, Puyuhuapi or Coyhuique. Another way how to get to Chaiten from Puerto Montt is by ferry or by your own vehicle.
If you already have enough of staying in impersonal concrete hotels, Hotel Mi Casa will really make your day. The building is made of native wood, and it is incredibly pleasant to spend time inside - you will have an enjoyable sleeping experience. Honestly, we haven't slept that well for a very long time and were quite upset that the bad weather forecast did not work out and we 'had to' go explore Pumalin National Park and couldn't have stayed in bed all day long.
The hotel was opened in 1982 during a time when Carretera Austral was being built, but a lot changed here since then, the building definitely doesn't live from the past, and we could see that the place is well-maintained and renovated little by little.
When you arrive in Chaiten, you wouldn't probably expect that it is possible to find accommodation with proper relaxation facilities, so we found truly surprising that Hotel Mi Casa has an awesome home-made outside hot tub, a sauna, and a pretty big fitness center.
All those facilities were built by Federico, the owner and we were really impressed by what he was able to construct with his bare hands not only for his guests but also for residents of Chaiten and for his friends.
Everything comes super handy after a long actively spent day outside, especially when you take into consideration that weather in Patagonia is unpredictable and rain, wind or cold is no exception, even in the summer.
To make your evening even cozier, you can visit the well-stocked bar and meet new people over a glass or two or get to know the owners a bit better. They live in the area for a long time and have interesting stories to share.
The hotel also features free parking: something many people driving Carretera Austral will appreciate for sure.
Breakfast is the only meal served in this hotel, so try to come as soon as possible and enjoy it without rush as the view from the dining room is spectacular. We never skip breakfast and you shouldn't too and not only because it is not healthy but also because it would have been a shame.
Breakfast consists of tea or coffee, cereals, yogurt, bread, jam, ham, cheese, and last but not least, tasty and homemade fruit pie - we couldn't resist and had some.
There are only sixteen rooms in Hotel Mi Casa which adds up to the friendly atmosphere: doubles, twins and some rooms can fit an extra bed.
Our room was comfortable, clean, light and we enjoyed the family-like vibe there.
All rooms feature a private bathroom with hot water, heater (although it was not somehow cold outside, it was convenient, and we can imagine that it is a must during colder nights), and strong wi-fi service (much better than we have expected in a remote place like this).
If you want to enjoy the company of other guests or you only want to be outside your room, you can either go to a bar, hang out on a terrace or watch TV, play chess or read in the hotel's lounge. There are two TV rooms, but the one downstairs by the reception is particularly welcoming.
MAKE YOUR RESERVATION
Hotel Mi Casa is among the best hotels of the northern part of Carretera Austral, so if you like it, do not hesitate to secure your room today. You can make your reservation HERE.
This post was written in collaboration with Hotel Mi Casa. As always, all opinions are our own.