In the heart of the mythical Elqui Valley, in Pisco, surrounded by the Andes Mountains, 500km north of Santiago, in central Chile, lies a magical place that allows for star-spangled dreams beneath the clear, pure sky. Combining stargazing and specialised astronomic tours with night-time horseback riding, meditation and even tarot readings, Elqui Domos is a hotel quite like no other.
It was built to fulfil its owners’ desire to observe and enjoy the grandeur of one of the world’s most star-filled skies. It is one of only seven astronomic hotels around the world and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, offering breathtaking views of the magic skies draped over the Elqui Valley (the valley is renowned for its sharp, clear skies, as it happens to sit under one of the clearest atmospheres in the world). The lack of rain and pleasant weather all year round set the perfect conditions for astronomic tourism, where guests can gather, to enjoy an unique chance to liaise with the stars.
This unusual-destination hotel comprises seven 4-person timber cabins in the form of PVC tent geodesic domes. The idea was to create spaces that would introduce the infinity of the Chilean night sky into the rooms, encouraging an intimate connection between guests and the stars. With their two storey plans, the domes feature a living room and bathroom on the lower floor and a double bed on the upper floor complete with a detachable roof that can be opened up to watch the stars at leisure whilst lying in bed. Each dome also has an ample terrace and provides every conceivable comfort for stargazers to while away the hours looking at the blanket of stars above as well as specialised astronomic literature to keep them informed.
A new extension to the hotel saw the addition of four wooden ‘observatories’, whose architectural design is similar to that of the existing domes. Designed by Santiago studio RDM Arquitectura, the observatories are located on the upper part of the hotel property and feature three levels of living space. Features such as large angled skylights and rooftop viewing platforms, offer direct sight-lines towards the Elqui Valley’s dramatic scenery.
Project: Elqui Domos Hotel
Location: Elqui Valley, Pisco, Chile
Architects: RDM Arquitectura, Santiago, Chile
Technical info: PVC membrane
Picture credits: James Florio