Dan and I stayed a few nights at the Hotel Palacio de Sal in April 2023 on our trip through Bolivia. We selected this hotel because it is super close to the Uyuni Salt Flats, looked luxurious online, and had a lovely looking pool. This article reviews the hotel and its amenities and food.
HOTEL PALACIO DE SAL
Located just outside of the Uyuni Salt Flats in literally the middle of nowhere, Hotel Palacio de Sal self-identifies as the “first salt hotel” in the Uyuni Salt Flats. I’m not sure if this is accurate, but it is one of two hotels very close to the salt flats that I could find when booking our accommodation (the other being Hotel De Sal Luna Salada). We settled on Hotel Palacio de Sal for the sole reason that the pool looked nicer in photographs (and the pool did end up being one of my favorite parts of the hotel).
In any case, Hotel Palacio de Sal is located right on the edge of the Uyuni Salt Flats, near absolutely nothing else within an easy walk. Guests are pretty much “stuck” at the hotel unless they leave via car. This was fine, and we figured this going in. The hotel is also alleged “made of salt” from the salt flats. While it’s definitely not totally made of salt, some parts are made of salt, including the roof of our hotel room. Salt is also featured prevalently throughout the hotel, kind of like sand often is at beach hotels. This was a cool feature!
In any case, the hotel kind of looks like something you would see in a space movie – a collection of oddly shaped buildings rising out of the bare land. The entrance to the hotel is pretty grand, with large ceilings, a fire pit, and so much salt!
THE HOTEL LAYOUT
Hotel Palacio de Sal is laid out in a general cross shape, with the reception and dining facilities at one end and the spa and pool at the opposite end. Rooms are spread out between these two areas and on the cross. For a hotel in the middle of nowhere in Bolivia, the hotel is relatively modern and certainly clean. The vibe is what I would describe as Bolivian country chic, making use of traditional Bolivian textiles and art throughout the hotel. The hotel features several salt sculptures, lots of public seating areas, and cute little stoves throughout the hotel to ensure its kept warm (as it gets VERY cold in the evening). All quite cute!
OUR ROOM AT HOTEL PALACIO DE SAL
We stayed in a Hanan Suite, which is one of four categories of rooms at Hotel Palacio de Sal. Our room was decent sized, consisting of a bed room area with views out to the salt flats, a desk, a fridge with a stocked mini bar, a sitting/living area with a couch, armoire, and coffee table, and a bathroom with a large sink area and a tab/shower. The room utilized traditional Bolivian textiles on the walls and featured two salt domes, one in each room. These were pretty cool. And yes, for those wondering, we did have two twin beds because no double rooms were available when we booked. I think the hotel may have more twin rooms than double rooms, as we heard more than one couple complaining to the front desk that their room did not contain a matrimonial bed. The room had individual heat and air conditioning, which worked very well. What it did not have, however, a TV.
We only experienced the Hanan Suite, but we did peak into some other rooms that were being cleaned between guests and the normal rooms seemed quite small with no real window views. I would again spring for a nicer room if visiting again.
THE FOOD AT HOTEL PALACIO DE SAL
Hotel Palacio de Sal guests will almost certainly have a meal or two at the hotel, as there is nothing close by, and the hotel offers two restaurants. The food at both is what I would describe as just “ok,” meaning edible but nothing that I would return for. That being said, the hotel did a good job of combining local and international fare to suit all guests tastes, including vegetarian options. Breakfast and dinner are both served in the large Tika Palace, which is actually decorated nicely with a large picture of the legendary Tunupa character. The second restaurant is the unnamed cafe-bar described further down.
Breakfast: Breakfast is served every morning in the Tika Palace. I believe it usually runs from 7:30 – 10:00, but it opens early on days with early flights. Breakfast is served buffet style and every day offered a bread bar with jams and bread toppings, a cereal selection, several juice selections, a hot bar with prepared foods such as bacon, crepes or pancakes, etc. and a made-to-order egg or omelette bar. The breakfast was solid. I felt full every morning and certainly found things I could eat (and I’m picky). Breakfast was included in our reservation (which I believe is common), so I do not know how much it costs if its not included in the reservation.
Dinner: Like breakfast, dinner is served buffet style. There is a daily bread bar, with amazing Bolivian spicy sauce (called llajua, don’t miss this!), a salad bar with three or four fresh salads, a variety of hot foods, including things such as rice, pasta, fish, pork, etc. and a grill, where a chef grills up meat, such as chicken and lama, and vegetables and potatoes. Everything seemed fresh and pretty decent, but nothing was outstanding. The highlight for me daily was the dessert bar, which usually featured three delicious desserts. Dinner was $29 USD per person, excluding drinks. Drinks were not cheap – with a bottle of water costing $4.00.
Lunch is served in the unnamed cafe/bar directly across from the Tika Palace. If you ask for “lunch,” there is a set “lunch” menu for $29 USD per person that consists of a starter, main course and dessert. We really wanted lunch our first day, and were told this was the only option. However, this is simply not true – the bar also serves bar food, including burgers, fries, and chicken nuggets. Don’t fall for the $29 USD three-course meal if you don’t want it. We did purchase the $29 lunch, and the food was nothing special. The chicken nuggets that I got on another day were, however, fantastic, and much less expensive.
AMENITIES AT HOTEL PALACIO DE SAL
The Pool and Spa: Ah, the pool and spa were absolutely my favorite part of Hotel Palacio de Sal. Located at the end of the hotel opposite of the entrance, the pool and spa are open to all guests…including children (which was really annoying one day). The pool area is to the left of the “spa entrance” and is entirely enclosed in a room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the vast space surrounding the hotel. The pool is heated very well and at one end is an even warmer hot tub area. The pool was absolutely lovely, and I spent a lot of time here.
The pool is surrounded by an area perfect for relaxing, loungers, a fire place and a little bar with complimentary water and tea. In this area is also a sauna and steam room, both of which were spacious and worked very well.
Spa treatments are done in rooms connected to the pool area and reservations can be made on site. I had a lovely 60 minute massage for about $50 USD. If you want a treatment, I encourage booking as soon as you arrive, as they do get full. The spa also keeps odd hours, with massages going until 10 PM. Crazy! Also, the pool and spa area were open from 9 AM – 11 PM during our visit, allowing guests to fully utilize the pool all day. This was great.
Rooftop Stargazing: The hotel’s entrance area has a stair case seeming going to a second floor. These actually lead up to a rooftop stargazing area. We went up, but it was a bit too cold for our taste. It was also kind of hard to see stars because of the light the hotel gave off. In any case, there is some seating and doors that allow you to step out on a small viewing deck.
Hotel Bar. Hotel Palacio de Sal has one bar, located across from the main dining room. The bar area is quite nice, with floor to ceiling windows, a pool table, lots of seating, and a really cool pink painting by a local artist! We did not spend much time here, but we did have a couple drinks, including our complimentary welcome beverages! The drinks were surprisingly good.
Exhibits around the hotel: The hotel has a few exhibits around the hotel to entertain guests, including numerous salt sculptures and mannequins wearing traditional outfits.
Bicycles. The hotel claims to have complimentary bicycle rental. We saw the bicycles, but no one mentioned anything about using them. There is an area around the hotel where guests could ride the bikes.
TV Room. While the hotel rooms have no TVs, there is at least one TV room where guests can go to watch television. I didn’t see anyone using this room during my stay.
Walking to the salt flats. Hotel Palacio de Sal is very close to the salt flats, and guests can in theory walk out to them. I took a stroll in that direction, but didn’t feel comfortable going all the way to the salt flats.
Wifi. Wifi was very good at Hotel Palacio de Sal – like good enough to login to Citrix to get some work done. This was unexpected.
Coffee & Tea. Hotel Palacio sets up a complimentary coffee and tea stand in near the checkin area, including coca tea, which locals claim helps with the altitude sickness.
Gift Shop. The hotel has a small gift shop that keeps odd hours. I perused it one evening, and it was, not surprisingly, pricey. The stuff for sale was nice looking. I bought most of my souvenirs at the much, much, muuuuch lower priced shops in Colchani.
HOW TO GET TO PALACIO DE SAL
Hotel Palacio de Sal is located alllmost in the Salar de Uyuni, and the only way to reach it is by car. We flew into Uyuni’s tiny airport, complete with only a handful of flights per week (in 2023) and tractors delivering luggage, and took a taxi from the airport to our hotel. This cost 250 BS and took about 25 minutes. We did not prebook a car, but taxis were waiting at the airport for the plane to land. Aside from a taxi, the hotel also offered a free(!!) transfer to the airport on our way out. We took advantage of this and signed up one day in advance. Interestingly, the transfer was just an SUV that took 6 of us to the airport together – with our luggage tied to the top of the vehicle. Note – your luggage will get very dusty on this drive.
PRO TIPS FOR STAYING AT THE HOTEL PALACIO DE SAL
- Everything at the hotel is OVER PRICED. Buy water, snacks, etc. and bring it to the hotel. Colchani is a great place to buy these things.
- We received a bunch of emails/messages about paying in cash because the internet may not work. However, the internet worked the entire time we were at the hotel and we had no problem paying via credit card. No one at the hotel asked for cash.
- The front desk spoke good English, but not many other hotel employee spoke English on our visit. Knowing even a little Spanish will help.
- Even though Hotel Palacio de Sal is in the Salt Flats, guests still need to do an organized tour to properly experience the Salt Flats.
- There is a tour desk on site that can allegedly book next day tours up until 8:00 PM. You will probably get a better price booking in advance on your own.
- The hotel sits at over 12,000 feet. Take precautions for altitude sickness.
- There is plenty of parking on site.
- The hotel has oxygen on hand if needed for the altitude sickness.
- I do not recall seeing an ATM at Hotel Palacio de Sal.
- While in the middle of nowhere, the hotel felt very safe, even walking around outside.
STEAL OUR HOTEL
Palacio de Sal: This is the hotel’s English website.
Luna Salada Hotel & Spa: This is the other salt hotel’s website.