Palacio de Sal: The hotel made of salt

Globetrotters are seeking out just about every type of unique accommodation these days, and the travel industry is happy to keep raising the bar. We’ve all heard of those ice hotels that lure visitors with promises of nearly freezing to death in the name of memorable luxury. Then, there are resorts made up of five-star bungalows perched on stilts over turquoise waters. There are even treehouses meant to appeal to adventurous types. But you may not know that there is a hotel–actually, a couple of hotels–made entirely of salt.

The outside of the salt hotel.

The outside of the salt hotel.

Palacio de Sal

These wonders are located in the tiny, nearly forgotten town of Uyuni, in the heart of Bolivia. While simply getting to Uyuni can be quite the ordeal, your patience will continue to be tested as you head towards the hotel. Hail one of the few cabs sitting outside of the airport, and expect to pay about 250 BS (around $35) to get the beat-up car to shuttle you down the dusty, bumpy road towards the famous salt flats. If you make the half hour journey into the middle of nowhere without incident, you will be rewarded with a warm welcome from the wonderful staff when you finally walk through the doors of Palacio de Sal. After presenting you with a welcome drink of tropical juice, you’ll take in the sight of the grand foyer, which is tricked out with a chandelier and white couches topped with colourful pillows. Nearly everything you see is, incredibly, made of salt!

The hotel has just over a dozen rooms, and as you head down the long hallway towards them you will pass an entertainment room, restaurant, lounge, gift shop and numerous statues made of…well, you know! The rooms themselves are surprisingly modern, boasting a double or two twin beds, private bathroom and separate sun room. As it can get chilly at night, the beds have built-in warmers and layers and layers of blankets, which you won’t actually need if you choose to fire up the heater. The bed frame, walls, floor, counters and even the roof are made of salt. Take my word for it, as guests are advised against licking everything in sight to test it out for themselves!

Our room in the salt hotel.

Our room in the salt hotel.

Finally, a nightly highlight is to head up to the second level of the hotel just before dusk, to take in the stunning sunset. The two balconies are a perfect place to take in the scene, as the bright orange sun sets behind the looming blue mountains in the distance. Be sure to have your camera handy! Star gazers will also appreciate the rural setting, as there are no lights to obstruct your view of the galaxy.

One point worth noting is that while the hotel is actually located in the salt flats that everyone makes the trek out to see, most tours depart from Uyuni so you’ll have to get a taxi back into town. You can avoid this by booking a tour through the hotel which will depart right from Palacio, but it is about double the price and you will likely miss highlights that are closer to town like the train cemetery.

bolivia-salt-hotel-inside

PRACTICALITIES:

Cost: Rooms will set you back about $140 per night- quite pricey by Bolivian standards. The Hotel Luna Salada which is just down the road is about $20 cheaper. Breakfast is included, while dinner is $13 per person, which consists of a wonderful buffet. Drinks are extra.
 
Need to know: At time of writing, Palacio de Sal only accepts payment in cash, much to the chagrin of many guests. It can be hard to acquire Bolivianos anywhere outside of Bolivia and there is no bank machine at the hotel, so keep that in mind before you make the long drive out to the property. They also accept U.S. dollars.
 
Interesting fact: Salt hotels have a lifespan of only 10-15 years, as rain causes them to disintegrate and they must be entirely rebuilt.
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2 Responses

  1. February 25, 2014

    […] Palacio de Sal: The hotel made of salt […]

  2. January 20, 2015

    […] keep in mind there is virtually nothing else to do. A good alternative if you can afford it is to stay in one of the salt hotels near the flats—I mean, when else would you get a chance to stay in a hotel made of […]

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