A singular sensation
ROOM AT THE INN
A LONG drive through the raw, bleakly beautiful expanse of Chilean Patagonia — flamingos mirrored in a lake, a huaso (gaucho) shepherding his flock across the dun-coloured landscape, the Andes a constant, brooding backdrop — is a fitting introduction to The Singular.
This lodge-style hotel, set on the edge of the Senoret Channel, was originally Frigorifico Puerto Borie, a processing and exporting facility for Patagonia’s sheep industry. Now, its architectural bones have been reimagined into a luxurious living museum.
Not that there’s anything archaic about the facilities. Fifty-four guestrooms and three suites lead off long, metal-lined, wood-slatted corridors, each with sweeping views across the water to the snow-capped peaks of Torres del Paine National Park and down to the lights of Puerto Natales.
The generously proportioned rooms are furnished with an equal measure of modern simplicity and traditional comfort; there’s a vast, squashy armchair perfectly positioned to take in the changing light, an Andes-scale bed is centred for optimum dawn viewing. Furniture is an eclectic mix — my bedside table is an antique escritoire adorned with sepia portraits from the property’s commercial heyday.
Bathrooms are gorgeous, with glacier-sized freestanding white baths. Organic products, by French company Damana, are displayed apothecarystyle in wooden boxes.
The Singular is an ingenious integration of amenity and history. A walkway to the restaurant and lounge bar passes through atmospherically lit galleries of hulking, Victorian-era machinery, while narrow windows reveal snapshots of industrial outbuildings among waving grasses. From its entrance, the restaurant and bar area — towering wooden beams, raw brick walls, motley leather armchairs, plump lounges and strands of lights — is a dizzying clutter. But, once settled at a table near the open kitchen, it’s all about head chef Laurent Pasqualetto’s menu, and its focus on local and indi- genous produce. A bowl of luscious sea urchin is served ceviche- style with scallops and citrus; a mountain of sweet king crab is paired with green apple. A simply grilled fillet of guanaco (native llama) is tender and gently gamy and lamb (of course) comes all ways, everything complemented by a wine list showcasing a spectrum of regional Chilean wines.
The property’s blacksmith’s forge has just been reincarnated as El Asado, an on-trend 20-seater specialising in traditional barbecued meats, including rabbit and hare.
Before (or after) dinner, ease the day’s exertions with a spa treatment using products based on local plants and fruits. But for this guest, nothing tops watching a flock of caiquin geese skimming the horizon from the vantage of the spa’s indoor/outdoor swimming pool. Sally Feldman was a guest of The Singular, ProChile and Qantas.
Guestrooms have sweeping views across the Senoret Channel