In Purmamarca monastic adobe walls and contemporary food are a fine counterpoint to breathtaking vistas
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Mountains | Natural world | Relaxation | Spa
Purmamarca is set in the centre of the Quebrada de Humahuaca region in the northern reaches of Argentina where once river-carved valleys are now entirely dry, revealing spectacular, multi-coloured rock strata. It’s no surprise that the 150-mile valley is World Heritage-listed. And, sitting under the much-celebrated Cerro de los Siete Colores – the Hill of Seven Colours – lies peaceful Purmamarca. Postcard-perfect, its wide-canopied algarroba trees are picked out against 17th-century churches and adobe houses. Head just outside to find El Manantial del Silencio on the banks of the town’s river, looking up at the coloured jags through tall poplar trees.
Award-winning architect Mariano Sepúlveda has followed a strictly Spanish, neo-colonial style to create a hotel that combines authenticity with luxury. Local materials are used wherever possible in adobe walls and hollow cane roofs; inside, ascetically white walls are marked only with small wrought-iron details and paintings. Shuttered windows invite views of the vivid red mountains in as dark wood furniture, colonial arches and Egyptian cotton sheets hark back to a time forgotten. Indeed, although there’s WiFi and heating, there’s no TV making for a more traditional stay. The hotel’s suite adds a Jacuzzi and separate sitting area while a set apart house with its own garden looks out onto the mountains.
As well recognised as the hotel’s architect, chef Sergio Latorre’s unique take on local ingredients is internationally acclaimed. Using llama meat, Yala trout, quinoa, beef jerky, amaranth, goat cheese and the famous Andean baby potatoes and corn, he’s made his own, contemporary stamp on traditional classics, introducing fine dining concepts to rustic flavours. Dine with views out through floor-to-ceiling windows onto the pool or in the intimate back, where wall hangings and candles bring nice touches to stone floors and white walls. Fresh breakfasts are equally enjoyable with fruits, yoghurts and chocolate pastries among the extensive spreads.
After lunch and dinner feasts, the sparkling heated pool holds a certain temptation along with its loungers that make the most of the Argentine sun. There’s also a small spa and an indoor Jacuzzi to tempt your afternoons away from the hotel’s picturesque natural beauty. However, you will want to spend your time exploring the area with walks up into the colourful mountain ranges taking about two hours. Back in town, there’s a bustling trade in handicrafts not yet affected by the trickle of tourists. Leisurely bike rides – available from the hotel – bring you to squat churches and the shade of thousand-year-old trees.
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