Collectively-run hotel based on Mapuche ‘ruca’ opens near Pucón

Hidden among the mountains on the border with Argentina, the town of Curarrehue is a hub for Mapuche culture, gastronomy, artisanal production, and now – lodging.

Nestled in the foothills of the southern Andes, among the lakes and snow-fed rivers of Chile’s verdant Araucanía Region, a new hotel has recently opened that offers a completely different experience from the one-size-fits-all luxury at international chain hotels.
A round building of wooden frames with a pitched straw roof, the Ruka Pillan Hotel is built in the style of a ruca, a traditional Mapuche building, only unlike the typical one-story, earth-floor design, this hotel includes three floors, a common area, event rooms, and 16 guest rooms.
The hotel is located in the little town of Curarrehue, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Pucón, close to the border with Argentina and surrounded by national parks and reserves like Huerquehue, Villarica, and Santuario el Cañi.
The region has long been renowned by hikers and nature lovers for its smoking volcanoes, dense forests of Araucaria pines, and the pumas, woodpeckers and rare wildlife that inhabit the landscape.
In recent years, the area’s cultural heritage has become one of its biggest draws, as the heartland of Chile’s indigenous Mapuche peoples and the little town of Curarrehue have established itself as a center of Mapuche cuisine, artisanal products and cultural practices.
But its remoteness and lack of accommodation has, until now, kept Curarrehue as a destination only for a handful of hardy travelers.
From this situation the Ruka Pillan Hotel was born, as a collective effort between a group of local small-business owners, who want to offer visitors a luxurious and authentic jumping-off point from which to learn about Mapuche culture, experience the area’s natural wonders and invest in the local community.
The hotel is located at 500 O’Higgins, Curarrehue, in the Cautín Province of the Araucanía Region. To make reservations, call (56 9) 8397 7772 or write to ruka_ngen@hotmail.com.