Savoring a Stay at a Gourmet Hotel in Argentina’s Lake District
Given that the word gourmet is in the name, one would expect Las Balsas Gourmet Hotel & Spa to have a stellar restaurant, but the gourmet experience at this beautiful boutique property in Argentina’s Lake District goes far beyond the food. Of all the Argentina hotels I’ve been fortunate enough to visit over the years, Las Balsas just might be my favorite. This cozy 15-room lake home, located on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi, is a member of Relais & Châteaux, a collection of fine hotels and restaurants renowned for their high standards and excellent service. The property has all the ingredients for a gourmet stay: a privileged location, charming accommodations, personalized service, an array of excellent excursions to choose from and, of course, great food and wine.
Upon arrival at Las Balsas, our host Juan Pablo greeted us with a calm, casual hospitality that set the tone for what would be a relaxed and memorable stay. It is hard to put a finger on exactly what separates those who simply provide good service from those who provide true hospitality, but the staff at Las Balsas certainly knows how to do the latter. As we sat down with our hosts for an espresso to discuss the excursion options we’d have for the next few days, it somehow felt as though we were visiting old friends in this distant corner of Argentine wilderness, and it was clear that they were genuinely interested in showing us the best of their expansive backyard.
The options for excursions and combinations of activities are seemingly limitless. Do you want to hike through a protected Arrayanes forest and then have us meet you at the end of the peninsula with kayaks so you can paddle back toward the hotel? Canoe through the bay with a birding guide to see how many new species you can spot? Ride a mountain bike through the hills to a nearby driving range and shoot a bucket of balls? Sail on a schooner and then see what you can snag at a great fly-fishing spot? All of the above? Las Balsas can make it happen.
Even with all of these great active options, it is hard to imagine many guests being able to resist the allure of spending at least part of their stay doing as little as possible, whether lounging on the hotel’s beach or enjoying the heated in-out pool, Jacuzzi, and massage rooms of this small hotel’s surprisingly deluxe spa.
As you might expect, Las Balsas’ restaurant is considered among the best in the region, and resident sommelier Paul Abad enthusiastically provides suggested pairings for each of the chef’s signature creations. His guided tastings take your taste buds through Argentina’s different wine producing regions, so even if your trip does not include Mendoza you can get a taste of their famous Malbecs here.
A Gourmet Border Crossing with Chile on the Side
Las Balsas is located just outside of the tiny town of Villa La Angostura, which is about 50 minutes from the Paso Samoré Chilean border crossing, and about an hour north of the Bariloche, Argentina airport. Bariloche has direct flights to other highlight areas of Argentina, including Mendoza, El Calafate, and Buenos Aires, so a stay at Las Balsas is a logical way to connect an adventure in Chile with an adventure in Argentina (or the other way around).
While one well-known way of connecting a trip between Chile and Argentina in this region is the full day “Andean Lake Crossing” between Puerto Varas, Chile and Bariloche, Argentina, that excursion is a very long day of travel, with a combination of 3 buses and 2 catamarans taking over 12 hours of total travel time. Over the years the full day lake crossing excursion has become more and more mass-touristy, and thus less appealing for discerning travelers.
Alternatively, Las Balsas’ strategic location at the northern end of Nahuel Huapi Lake and near the Chilean border make a stay here a great option for an itinerary that combines the Chilean and Argentine Lake Districts in a more comfortable, more exclusive way than the typical large group lake crossing. Las Balsas has its own private pier in Kraft Bay, in the Huemul branch of Nahuel Huapi Lake, and from its pier we can arrange a yacht to Bariloche, exploring some beautiful, less-visited areas of Nahuel Huapi National Park with our guides along the way: your own private lake crossing.
Give us a call or send us a message to get started on a custom itinerary tailored to your dates and tastes, including stays at Las Balsas and other great properties in Patagonia and throughout the southern cone.