Whether you’re a sustainable travel enthusiast, or looking for a really unique Colonia Uruguay hotel, Caliu is your spot. It’s Latin America’s first ever “earthship hotel” and a truly boutique place to stay when you visit the UNESCO heritage town of Colonia del Sacramento.
Earthships are buildings designed to be completely off-grid using mainly natural and recycled materials. Here in the Colonia countryside in two acres of meadow full of wild flowers, two thousand tyres, 40,000 glass bottles and 10,000 drinks cans were covered in earth to create a magical guest house with four suites.
Inside the circular guest rooms with their domed ceilings—reminiscent of something out of the middle east—the temperature is a constant pleasant, 20° whether it’s winter or summer. The acoustic effect is very peaceful. You enter your room through a type of indoor greenhouse filled with enormous luscious green plants which are used to recycle and filter the water which is reused as well as keep the room cool. The rooms are illuminated using solar energy. Your hair and skin will never feel as good after bathing in rainwater and using skin and hair care products made by a family of botanists from Montevideo.
Caliu is the brainchild of an Argentine couple who sailed to Uruguay by boat and fell in love with Colonia. Jesica is a sustainable architect. Mauro has always worked in hospitality. Since landing in Uruguay and building the Earthship, with an international team of volunteers as well as Earthship experts from the US, they’ve started a family. They speak English and live on site.
One of our readers from the US praised the “funky soul food” of Caliu’s on-site restaurant. It’s open and frequented on weekends by locals who love Caliu’s tasty, home-cooked dishes. All ingredients are seasonal and sourced locally (including Caliu’s own kitchen garden). Specialities include lasagna, shakshuka, mushroom risotto, falafel, and slow cooked meats in beer and wine. The kids menu includes home-made chicken nuggets. The short menu changes from week to week.
You’ll wend your way across the meadow following curving pathways mowed through the wild grasses to allow easy walking between your room and the restaurant.
What you should know
- Caliu is Latin America’s first ever earthship hotel—and Uruguay’s second earthship.
- There is Wi-Fi which has been improved for 2024.
- There’s no AC or heating in the rooms They’re not needed due to the Earthship design. Check it out for yourself.
- Breakfast is included with your room and cooked by Helen. All breads and pastries are home-made. It includes croissants, bread, eggs, local fruit jam, granola and fresh fruit.
- Vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs are always accommodated for. Just mention at the time of booking.
- You’re in the countryside You’re in contact with nature directly. There are insects and after rain and especially at twilight there may be mosquitoes.
How to get to Caliu
The guesthouse is 5 miles (about 8 km) from the old town of Colonia That’s about ten minutes by car or taxi. Caliu has bikes available for rent. You can bike to the centre in 30 minutes or to the nearest beach (one of the favourites I mentioned in the Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay, the Arenisca) is 10 minutes away.
Photos: Xavier Martin / Caliu