The only astronomic hotel in the Southern Hemisphere, Elqui Domos takes advantage of prime stargazing in Chile’s Andes Mountains with dome-shaped tents, cabins, wooden observatories, astronomic tours and nighttime horseback riding. Mild temperatures, crisp, clear skies and lack of light pollution provide ideal conditions to take in the beauty of the atmosphere.
Located about 500km (311 miles) north of Santiago, Elqui Domos offers seven 4-person geodesic domes with large skylights placed on wooden decks, as well as four new cabins with angled windows pointing at the sky. While the domes provide a camping experience of lying beneath the stars, the cabins attempt to recreate that feeling with additional luxury.
Set on a hillside, the cabins offer views of both the valley and the mountains as well as the wide open skies. Designed by Santiago-based RDM Arquitectura, these ‘observatory’ cabins have three levels. Each has a roof terrace that functions as the main living space, fitted with telescopes to encourage stargazing.
Astronomy materials are available in each cabin, and guests are also invited to meditate or even get tarot readings. Lodging starts at $150 per night.
“Our main challenge was to carry out an intervention that would improve the domes’ living condition while highlighting the elements that make this hotel so unique,” says RDM Arquitectos. “
To refashion the existing rooms, we emphasized the role of the terrace as main living area, and highlighted a specific sense of lightness –usually found in textile architecture– by placing the cabins’ volumes barely sitting on the land, reminiscent of foreign artifacts used for sleeping, dominating the landscape, or staring at the stars.”
“For the new bedrooms (first build stage) the idea was to come up with a room type that would provide a complementary alternative –with better living standards than the fabric domes–, that would make better use of the available land, while maintaining and enhancing the conditions that make Elqui Domos such a special experience.”
“The fact that the new rooms had to be placed exactly where the topography changes –between the vast vegetation of the valley and the harsh, dry mountain overhang– called for bringing this condition to light. To achieve this, we conceived a type of cabin that was raised above the ground and had an inside graded space, which would negotiate the two different views –valley and mountains– by opposing two glass walls across the entire width of the cabin.”
“The transparent wall that shows the mountains was suggested as a junction between wall and sky, angled in a way that would allow it’s peak to be seen from anywhere within the cabin. At the same time it would allow to recreate the feel of lying beneath the stars the existing dome cabins provide. The roof deck was the final element, placed so that it revives the dominant and privileged position of the cabins towards the geography. “