Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts are a chain of high-end luxury accommodations. Based out of Canada and maintaining a presence in major cities throughout the world, they are a convenient stop for wealthy patrons. In Bolivia, however, they have a one seasoning hotel… and that seasoning is salt.
The Hotel Palacio de Sal is a sprawling one-story hotel that lays on the edges of the world’s largest salt flat about 200 miles south of the country’s capital of La Paz. What makes the hotel unique is the construction: large blocks were cut from the salt flat and assembled to created a series of guest rooms, connected to a lobby and a large central bathroom. It took about two years to assemble, completing construction in 1995.
That was the first iteration of the hotel, however. That one was torn down in 2002, a victim of its success.
Word had spread of the odd hotel, and it quickly became a tourist destination. All available rooms were constantly booked, despite the issue of a communal bathroom. The creators hadn’t anticipated constant usage, however; if they had, they’d have likely arranged for better plumbing than simply routing waste to a small tank for disposal. The overloaded septic system ran into a series of troubles, each one resulting in a larger biohazard footprint. As complaints started rolling in, the owners decided that they’d had a successful run and shut down the hotel, subsequently dismantling it.
In 2007 a new hotel was erected using the same name. This time, it had better plumbing, large accommodations, an extensive electrical system and stylish decor. As before, not just the walls, floors and ceiling are made of salt but also all of the interior furniture. (While the beds are salt, they do have large padded mattresses.) It remains open for booking today, with fairly reasonable prices (less than $200/day) and high ratings on the travel sites.
If you’re curious about what it might look like… here’s a tour from National Geographic.
One thing that you can’t do there is lick the walls. Not only is it against the rules, it’s unsanitary. Go take one of their salt baths instead.
Question of the night: Assuming travel were again safe, which continent would you prefer to visit, Africa or South America?