In the past few years, my affection for Chile has burgeoned. A peaceful and hospitable country with some of South America’s most spectacular scenery, it now boasts several exceptional resorts of striking architectural beauty. Much of my time has been spent amid the dramatic landscapes of the Atacama Desert and Patagonia, but on my most recent trip, I ventured first to remote and pristine Chiloé Island, which lies some 600 miles south of Santiago. There, the remarkable new Tierra Chiloé hotel provides a stylish and civilized base from which to explore the island’s cultural riches — 16 elegant wooden colonial churches have been listed by UNESCO — as well as to pursue outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking and wildlife-viewing.
After a thoroughly relaxing three-night stay, I headed back to Chile’s central wine region, a two-hour drive south of Santiago. Argentina’s celebrated Mendoza wine country lies a 45-minute flight across the Andes, and these areas may be combined conveniently in a single itinerary. Each now offers a roster of elegant and atmospheric places in which to stay, plus fine restaurants, and countless opportunities to taste a wide range of increasingly sophisticated wines.
In this issue, you will also find an account of my visit to the appealing French city of Strasbourg, with its many cozy, pub-like winstubs, as well as a description of my sojourn in the nearby Black Forest on the German bank of the Rhine. There, I stayed in the wonderful family-run Bareiss hotel with its three-star gastronomic restaurant, a property refined over generations that represents the apogee of old-fashioned European innkeeping.