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“Pricey But Substandard Accommodations”

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Refugio Torre Central-Torres del Paine
Reviewed March 12, 2013

They say that hiking in the Torres Del Paine National Park is a once in a lifetime experience. What they forgot to mention was how this once in a lifetime experience was going to cost you an arm and a leg. Everything is grossly overpriced in the TDP national park, from park entrance to accommodations (a bed in a shared dorm at Refugio Centro is USD 48) to food (a simple boxed lunch of sandwich, a cereal bar, a small packet of nuts and one fruit would set you back by USD36 each). The staff couldn't even get our boxed lunch orders right - we ended up with vegetarian sandwiches.

Fantastico Sur clearly holds a monopoly in the TDP and with few other options to choose from, one has to either opt for an expensive shared dorm or an expensive campsite. There are no electricity outlets in the Refugio because, and I quote staff as saying, "they care about the environment". That's all well but you can't help but notice both employee computers left on all day and staff using it to surf Facebook. Funny way to conserve energy.

You can probably get better food at a public school cafeteria than at Refugio Torre Central (we had breakfast, dinner and ordered a boxed lunch). Dinner was a whopping USD24 for a set meal which left many feeling dissatisfied (we saw many diners skipping dessert). Most items on the menu were also canned items, e.g. canned tomato soup, fruit cocktail from a tin etc so food quality is low. For much better food in the same price range, head to Hotel Los Torres, which is about 20 minutes away. They use organic vegetables and good-quality meats in their dishes.

If you ask me, I'll say give the dorms a miss and go for a campsite where possible (or splurge and stay in Hotel Los Torres). The shared dorms weren't that comfortable anyway. If you like, you can dine at the refugio even if you're camping. Also, remember to bring your own food - we arrived in the national park direct from the Argentinian border and were not allowed to carry fresh food with us or we would have.

Hikers won't have much of a choice when it comes to accommodations or food in TDP, so most will probably end up at one of the refugios anyway, but hopefully this review serves to manage expectations.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Mei L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 3, 2013

We spent our last night of the W here. Coming from the Refugio Los Curenos, we were caught in a rainstorm and hiked for about an hour in it before reaching the Hotel Los Torres. We almost abandoned our reservations at Central when we saw the luxurious hotel but were ultimately glad we pushed on the extra 10 minutes to the Refugio (it's much less expensive).
Central is the newer of the two refugios in that immediate area (Norte is the older one; we didn't see it but heard about it from other travelers) and is the nicest of the three that we stayed at on the trip (Paine Grande and Los Cuernos are the others). The staff at Central aren't the friendliest people; the exception is the bartender who was a really nice guy.
We checked in and put our packs in our bunkroom; there are six bunks per room and they are clean and comfortable. A huge plus were the large lockers in each room - bring a small padlock (those aren't provided). Towels can be rented for $2,000 pesos each ($4 USD). The bathrooms were the nicest of the three refugios that we stayed at. Very clean with lovely showers that had lots of hot water and good water pressure.
The beds are very comfortable with sheets, a warm comforter and a pillow. Despite the cold temperatures, we were warm and cozy at night.
There's a large communal area consisting of the dining room and a large, attractive bar area. In addition, each of the two wings has another, smaller communal area with a sunken floor, bean bag chairs, a hammock and - nirvana! - a wood-burning stove. We showered, changed into dry clothes, lit a fire, bought a bottle of wine at the bar and spent most of the afternoon on the bean bag chairs in front of the fire.
Dinner and breakfast were the best we had on the trail. Both in terms of service (not chaotic like Los Curenos) and quality of food (we had a great chicken enchilada for dinner and wonderful homemade bread). The wines by the glass are pretty awful so opt for a bottle instead (this isn't included in the price of dinner); they do have some really nice reds.
The next morning, it was still raining (and snowing on the Torres) so we stayed at the refugio until the bus came to transfer us back to the bus to Puerto Natales. We had to be out of the rooms by about 9:30am so we packed up and moved our things out to the bean bag chairs where we read books and talked with other travelers. There's no wireless available at the refugio but you can walk the ~10 minutes back to the hotel and pay for wireless (there's no shuttle).
Overall, a great experience even in bad weather. Pricey but given how remote this area is, it was worth it if you don't want to splurge for the hotel.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank aml888
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 18, 2013

My girlfriend and I had the chance to stay 2 nights at refugio central in our way to complete the W circuit in Torres del Paine...and it was by far the best place to stay...beds are really comfortable (they all have a goose down comforters!).
Staff is also really nice and helpful. We saw a few tourists having pictures with the chef who seems to be a really nice guy.
Meals are fine, nothing fancy but it worked for us...make sure you book everything in advance specially with dinner and breakfast otherwise you'll be craving for food...best way to do this?...as soon as you check in, buy all the meals you are planning to have.
Common areas are clean, the view of the Torres, from the bar is absolutely gorgeous (you get the same view from the rooms)
Dislikes?... wi-fi is missing and there's no outlets to charge your gadgets.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank jhon a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 16, 2013

Its rate was quite expensive for a dorm lodging - but where else could you stay in Torres del Paine? (Las Torres Hotel is there but they would be even more expensive!).

I was a bit dismayed to find the 4-bed dorm had no curtain, and people could walk in front of the room and look into what we did. We arrived late afternoon and wondered how we could sleep and had privacy from privy eyes from outside. When I woke up on the following day my dismay became a huge surprise to see Torres del Paine basked in morning sunrise. The view was simply magnificent and no words can explain the beauty of Torres del Paine.

Food was ok, service was ok. It may not be the best lodging/dorm, but the location is simply the best.

Room Tip: Rooms where you can see Torres del Paine through the window
  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank cewcil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 13, 2013 via mobile

Terrible service, too expensive for what they offer and the rooms were bug infested. The people that work there treat you like you doing them a favour. Everything was so overpriced like the meals were as expensive as the one in the hotel which is nicer

  • Stayed: February 2013
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1  Thank Bmoe656
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 5, 2013

My friends (3) and I really enjoyed our short stay (late afternoon to next morning) in this lodge. It's beautifully located, dinner was delicious, breakfast was served on time, and was good, box lunch was more than enough for a day trekking. The room was a bit small but mattress, sheets, and blanket were great and clean. I do recommend it either for those who want to start the W Circuit (as we did) or are finishing it. Besides Paine Grande, the other lodges along the trail didn't have the same quality as this one. A very nice place.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Amandina M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 2, 2013

Really enjoyed staying in this refugio for one night. I was quite lucky since no one else was assigned to the six bed dorm I was in. The entire place is brand new including the absolutely fantastic beds and comforters which appeared to be direct off the truck from Esprit. The rooms had huge lockers, all facilities worked well, the hang out areas were a great place for an afternoon nap or just staring out the window as the clouds passed by the Torres. Have to pay a pretty penny for anything extra at the bar-around $10 for a tuna sandwich and fries.

Convenient store in the lobby area, free luggage storage, cute picnic area outside. Bus from the Laguna drops you right at the path- just steps from the hostel, so this refuge is an excellent alternative to the $200+ hotel night in the park for those not keen on backpacking. Food was horrible though so beware about paying beforehand and choose the veg option in the beginning if you're in doubt!

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled solo
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1  Thank travellerLP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Refugio Torre Central-Torres del Paine

Address: Torres del Paine, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Phone Number:
Location: Chile > Magallanes Region > Torres del Paine National Park
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 17 Specialty Lodging in Torres del Paine National Park
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Refugio Torre Central is located in "las Torres" sector, at the beginning of the W trek, you may access from Laguna Amarga (entrance to the park), taking the shuttles from this point to las torres. Next to Torre Central there is Torre Norte Refugio (for 60 people is the first FS refugio built in the 90´s), where guests must make their check in and have their meals at Refugio Torre Central.Torre Central is a very well equipped Refugio for 60 people, with Shop, Restaurant, Bar, shared rooms for 6, shared bathrooms and central heating.We are an eco friendly company so we do not have high demand devices; here we have a diesel engine to produce energy that we save in our batteries system, we invite you to help us to take care of it. Useful info: bring sandals for showers, towel (rental available).For tax exemption, do not forget to bring your passport, immigration card given when enter to Chile and foreign currency (tax exemption not available for camping guests) ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Refugio Torre Central-Torres Del Paine Hotel Torres Del Paine
Refugio Torre Central-Torres Del Paine Aisen Region/Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile

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