By Ken Hegan for MSN Travel

Seeking a celestial spy hotel?

This Chilean hotel boasts a telescopic observatory — and private, open-ceiling, geodesic domes — for you to spy on galaxies and your randy neighbours in the cabins down the hill.

Dome girl sleeping

Established in 2005 in the wine country of Pisco Elqui, Chile, the Hotel Elqui Domos features seven geodesic dome rooms that can each fit up to four people. Each dome has a detachable roof above a double bed, living room, private deck, and bathroom so you won’t need to pee in the bushes by the light of a full moon, solar flare, or meteor shower.

You can also stay in one of four observatory cabins. Each wood cabin has three levels, a double bed, skylight, and private deck. How astronomically cool is that? It’s like you’re camping under the stars in the countryside, except instead of bumpy cowboy dirt, you’re laying on a soft, warm bed with mega-thread count sheets.

Cabins night


Hotel amenities & attractions include a swimming pool, heat, wi-fi, and nearby vineyards in the Elqui Valley. So it offers that tantalizingly lethal combination of Drinking + Darkness + Gazing Skyward + Falling/Drowning in the Pool.

Pool stars fire

But the Hotel Elqui Domo’s crowning achievement is its observatory.

girl tele

It has two motorized domes that feature powerful ‘Celestron’ Schmidt–Cassegrain telescopes, plus a digital camera to capture the planets and galaxies you see. And if other guests are hogging the ‘scopes, the hotel will lend you your own telescope for the night.
Dome at night Florio

On their website, the hotel owners say they created the hotel for guests to “observe and enjoy the grandeur of the skies of the Elqui Valley.” The hotel also offers astronomic tours, massages, Reiki, Tarot readings, meditation, and horseback rides by day or night.
Dome plus pool

The hotel is 3.5 kilometers from the town of Pisco Elqui, 580 km from Santiago, and just 110 km from the nearest airport in the region’s capital city, La Serena. Five times a day, public buses travel from La Serena to the hotel. And each hour, a public bus arrives from Pisco Elqui. Or you can walk 45 minutes (Warning: there are no taxis in Pisco Elqui).

Dome girl view sittingHigh season rates (December 1st to April 30th + holidays and long weekends) are $150 US/night, while low season rates (May 1st to November 3rd) are $125 US/night.

For more information, visit — and check out this incredible time-lapse video of the hotel. Created by photographer James Florio, it was assembled from 23,000 photographs over a 6-month span.

— Ken Hegan  

Read more of Ken’s travel stories here

Twitter: @KenHegan

Photos by James Florio via Hotel Elqui Domos