World's Most Unusual Hotels: A Bolivian Hotel Made of Salt
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You may have heard of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, which is the world's largest salt flat. What you may not know is among this natural wonder exists a hotel made of salt, the aptly named Palacio de Sal.
The hotel was created in 1998 by architect Juan Quesada Valda, who had the ingenious idea of building a hotel entirely from NaCl. This means the walls, ceilings, tables, chairs and other room features are all created from cubes of table salt. Clearly, this was a convenient choice because the surrounding area is home to plenty of sodium chloride — it's also a way that hotel guests can connect with nature and truly rest. Though ingesting lots of salt isn't great for you, being around salt has long been considered by many to have healing properties, including improving your breathing, mood and sleep.
The hotel is more than 48,000 square feet and has 30 rooms and suites, 21 of which are standard rooms where the walls, beds, tables and even the igloo-shaped ceilings were built using salt. Each of these rooms features a private bathroom, hot and cold water, a telephone, a small sitting area and heat.
The other nine rooms are beautifully decorated suites, each with a large living area, bathroom with soaking tub and a sleeping area. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
The hotel also has one restaurant, El Meson, which specializes in a dish called salt chicken, naturally. There's also a spiral staircase and a lobby with floors, walls and furniture — all created from salt. You can even relax in the recreation area with a fireplace and play pool on a pool table that sits upon four salt pillars.
The hotel's location on the Salar de Uyuni is a special one. The salt flat is 4,086 square miles completely covered by several feet of salt crust. It's extraordinarily flat, only varying a few feet or so in height over the entire area. From the hotel, you can stare out from the many windows to see the beautiful colors and textures of the flat at sunset. If you want to get a closer look, the hotel works with Hidalgo Tours to give visitors tours and day trips around the area.
Room rates start at $177 per night for a standard room, including breakfast. While this hotel isn’t a member of a specific loyalty group, using your Chase Sapphire Preferred card to pay is always a good plan, as you’ll earn 2x points on travel and can avoid those pesky foreign-transaction fees. Or even better, use your Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3x points on travel. If you’re planning to stay a while, use your Citi Prestige card, which offers a terrific fourth night free benefit.
Do your homework ahead of time and consider the season you'll be visiting, as you may need to plan and dress accordingly. During the rainy season, you can only go nine miles into the flats, and during dry season it can get cold, so bundle up.
As you can imagine, this hotel is pretty far off the beaten path. You'll first need to get to La Paz, the capital city of Bolivia. American Airlines flies to El Alto International Airport (LPB) nonstop from Miami (MIA), but many flights from the US go to La Paz via a stop in various Latin American hubs like Bogota (BOG) or Lima (LIM). From La Paz, hop a flight on Amaszonas Airlines — which has partnerships with Air Europa, Aerolineas Argentinas, Copa and GOL — to Uyuni (UYU). You can also take buses and trains from La Paz to the salt flats, but beware of scams and keep an eye on your belongings if you decide to go this route. Make sure to also look into any visa and passport requirements for visiting Bolivia when planning your trip to ensure you have the proper documentation to enter the country.
Have you had your own sweet experience at the Palacio de Sal? Sound off on your stay — or with your own salty puns — below.