You Never Wanted to Sleep in a Cave, Until Now

A luxury cave? A modern 3,000-year old home? These are the paradoxes of the Museum Hotel that make it the only Relais & Châteaux property in all of Turkey and one of the most unique hotels in the world. Its home in Cappadocia is marked by volcanic eruptions and a blanket of thick ash that has been eroding over the millions of years into hoodoo-style towers, fairy chimneys, rainbow valleys and a landscape so surreal it rivals the moon. As if its geological beauty weren’t enough to captivate, these lava formations have been hand-carved into thousands of houses and inhabited by Hittites, Romans, Ottomans, and present-day Anatolians. The Museum Hotel took ten years to meticulously renovate a few dozen of Castle Hill’s ancient cave dwellings into a boutique hotel that transcends space and time.

02 Museum

The owner of the hotel, Ömer Tosun, is an avid antique and art collector and created the property as a living museum. His rare collection is displayed throughout the hotel and in a way that gives guests a sense of how 1000s of years history played out on these very grounds. Built to honor its 1st-century history and incredible landscape, the hotel is centered around Roman arches that look through to the Pigeon Valley, White Valley, Red Valley, and Göreme all with the splendid Mt. Erciyes stretching away in the distance.

03 Tekali Cave

We followed the butler (one of 55 highly trained employees to serve the 30-room hotel) through a series of tunnels, descended down a flight of stairs which opened up to our very spacious Tekali Cave Suite. The space was designed to perfection but still embraced its rough-hewn setting and rich past. The headboard and shelves are etched into the wall, just as the Hittite’s would have done, and the sitting area is beside the original grape-stomping basin from the cave’s days as a winery. Each suite is different, some with pools, waterfalls, massage parlors, or free-flowing wine taps (yes, you heard us…a line that runs from the bar to your room. Left sipigot is red, right is white…and both are free. It’s the consolation prize for rooms without a view. Which would you choose?).

04 Museum Hotel_breakfast

We went to the breakfast buffet and couldn’t help but fill multiple plates with Mediterranean delights. Cheeses, fruits, nuts, filo pastries, farm-fresh eggs, home-harvested honey, and vegetables from their on-site garden. We sat on the patio to soak up the sun and the views and ordered Turkish coffee to have our fortune read for the day.

05 Matiana Travel

To maximize our time and understanding of the region, the Museum Hotel set us up with their private tour service, Matiana Travel. If it tells you a bit about the quality of their guides, National Geographic calls them when they come to town. Ali and his team created an incredible itinerary for us, taking us to not only to the top sites but hidden gems and local haunts.

06-goreme open air museum

The first and absolute must-see stop we made was to the UNESCO-anointed Goreme Open Air Museum. It is a series of 4th-14th-century monasteries cut into the rocks, where as many as 10,000 monks once lived. We explored the caves marveling at the basic soup kitchens to the elaborate church frescoes.

Onward to the Byzantine town of Çavuşin! Wandering the neighborhood was something closer to rock climbing but we balanced on ledges, squeezed through tunnels, and found incredible homes. Believe it or not, up until the 1960s (when many of the caves became protected areas) the majority of Cappadocia lived in caves and 20% still do. Even in the modern age, cave dwelling makes sense as a way to regulate temperature in the area’s extremely hot and cold climate; the interiors stays at around 50-60 degrees no matter the season.

08 kaymakli

Unlike Cavusin which is out in the open rockface, there are series of cities that lay hidden underground. Ali took us to the Kaymakli City, an ancient subterranean world descending eight floors down with nearly 100 tunnels leading to the various work, living, and sacred spaces. Cappadocia’s arid landscape only yields one crop a year so granaries, wineries, and nearly all food storage was done underground to keep cool and deter thieves. Claustrophobics need not apply; history buffs welcome.

09 Museum Hotel Private

Back at the Museum Hotel, they have their fabulous Lil’a restaurant but for a extra romantic meals, they can arrange dinner in their panoramic spa. We went in for an incredible couples massages, freshened up, and returned to find a candlelit table for two. We started the meal with classic Turkish mezes of baba ganoush and dolmades, followed by a national favorite, Kuzu Tandir lamb, slowly baked in a clay pot until the meat falls off the bone.

10 kapadokya balloons

We woke up just bright and early to continue our Cappadocia exploration by hot-air balloon with Kapadokya Balloons. Getting the aerial perspective, looking down into the valleys, floating past ancient homes, weaving around fairy chimneys, is an unforgettable way to see the area. Whether you ascend or not, be sure to wake up at sunrise to catch the 100s of colorful balloons pepper the sky.

11 Love Valley Cappadocia_

Our Matiana Travel Mercedes van (did we tell you, it had a champagne bar?) came to pick us up and we were off to our next adventure…Hiking the Love Valley. We scrambled down the steep white walls but once inside, it was a slice of Eden with wild grapes, quince, and apples providing snacks for the day. Each bend in valley revealed a new marvel, from solid waves of lava flow to mushroom-tipped towers. If we’d known the area was THIS gorgeous, we would have stayed another week to trek!

12 Uçhisar Castle

We returned to the Museum Hotel in complete awe of our experience. Location, service, design, history, the Museum Hotel not only exceed our expectations of a cave hotel but a five-star hotel of any kind.

Anne and Mike Howard are creators of the around-the-world honeymoon blog and Long Term Travel Coaches for anyone looking to travel the world safely, affordably and off the beaten path. You can follow @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Eolo Glamping Review

Arriving to Eolo in Patagonia’s La Anita valley is unlike any other hotel approach experience out there. Surrounded with nothing but windswept pampas and the peaks of the region’s iconic mountains as far as the eye can see, it’s hard to imagine that a luxurious property even exists round these parts. Surprising guests is part of what makes Eolo so alluring.

Eolo outdoor1

After driving around, seeing nothing but the natural glory of Argentine Patagonia, Eolo appears as if out of nowhere, this low-lying lodge modeled after a classic sheep farm, an unexpected refuge in a desolate yet beautiful locale.

Eolo inside2

Located 30 kilometers west of El Calafate, the touristy nucleus of this pocket of Patagonia where there are meaty restaurants and shops for souvenirs or whatever you may have forgotten to pack for the trip, Eolo really does act like a tucked away retreat. Set on a private 4,000-hectare estate with virtually no visible neighbor, you can’t dream up more reclusive accommodations in a region known for providing travelers with space, especially in the luxury market. And with only 17 private suites, things don’t ever get crowded at this property.

Eolo living1

Once you get inside, it’s all about subtle design touches, giving Eolo the warm intimacy of a private home. Worn-but-refined leather furniture, complementary antiques, carved wood, crisp linen, patterned area rugs and plush animal hide combine to create an atmosphere that honors the destination in a luxurious and relaxing way. There’s never too much to look but everything works together to deliver one design narrative: that there’s harmony between what’s inside and out.

Eolo room1

Private rooms are spacious and chic with beds facing floor-to-ceiling windows. (And the corner rooms get two!) There’s no hiding of Patagonia here. Same in the bathrooms, which are simple and rustic-looking. The showers come equipped with eye-level windows so there’s really no getting away from glorious views of the outdoors. And depending on which room you have, you could be peeking at Lago Argentino, La Anita valley, the Torres del Paine or the Rico branch.

Eolo restaurant2

This is a Relais & Chateaux property so you know that food is going to be exceptional. Breakfast is a wonderful start to the day with a ton of sun usually flooding the dining room as you while away on fresh juices and flakey pastries.

Eolo act10

Your day will likely be spent on a excursion so Eolo can prepare a gourmet picnic lunch, which you’ve selected the day before, ticking little boxes to say you want sun-dried tomatoes in your sandwich and a brownie for dessert. You may not be at the hotel when you enjoy these treats, but the meticulously prepared boxes is one of the best examples of how exceptional the service is at Eolo. You feel like you’re being taken care of, even when you’re miles away from the staff.

Eolo restaurant7

Dinner service is when Eolo’s full culinary prowess is unleashed when a menu of locally sourced deliciousness will be on offer. Each course provides a handful of choices – if you’re staying a few days you can sample them all – that will satisfy even picky eaters among us.

Eolo restaurant8

A starter could be grilled local vegetables or soup while Patagonian lamb is usually among the options for a main course; but you are in Argentina, perhaps a perfectly seasoned cut of steak is the unbeatable choice. And don’t forget the wine. Eolo boasts a selection of vintages sourced from all over the great wine-making regions of the country.

Awasi: The Atacama Desert Oasis

At 10,000+ feet above sea level, less than a millimeter of rain per year, and miles of jagged salt flats, the Atacama Desert would seem to repel all things luxury…but then there’s Awasi. This lodge in San Pedro de Atacama has the coveted Relais & Chateaux seal of approval, and we quickly realized it wasn’t just its stunning design, unbelievable activities, award-winning food, and high thread count sheets that earned them five-stars—it is the unparalleled personal attention. There are over three dozen staff members for just eight rooms and every room comes with a private guide and chauffeur, dedicated to making your Atacama wishes come true. Awasi was an absolute oasis in the driest desert in the world.


Originally a second family home, the property was inspired by the simple homes of the nearby archaeological site or an early Atacama village, Aldea de Tulor. The earthy buildings are round in shape and made with the traditional mix of adobe, mud, grass, and stone with a concrete core for modern-day stability.

03 Awasi

The villas with brea-stick roofs may appear rustic from the outside, though inside they anything but. Our circular suite was so spacious and beautifully decorated with a mix of tailored and organic accents–from French settees to locally woven textiles.

04 Awasi

We had our first meeting with our guide in this chic outdoor lounge and quickly settled into its sea of colorful pillows. “First things first,” she said. “Can I get you a glass of Chilean wine?” Absolutely. She returned with two crisp glasses of Viognier (Awasi is all-inclusive, by the way) and discussed the slew of cultural and adventurous excursions to create our ideal itinerary.

05 San Pedro de Atacama

Our heads were racing with all the exciting possibilities in the area so we decided to get our bearings with a stroll through the town center, which was just outside Awasi’s front door. San Pedro de Atacama, a town that was actually apart of Bolivia until the 1800s, feels particularly unique to Chile. Its buildings are made of adobe, dripping with red clay from the incredibly rare and brief rain cloud that pass through–no matter if it’s a posh restaurant or the town church. It feels a bit like the the wild-west, filled with extreme athletes, hippies, luxe ladies, sun-worn locals, and flash-packers mingling in a town that has a character all its own.

06 Atacama Volcano

Looking down most streets you can catch glimpses of the snow-capped mountains and volcanoes in the distance. To get a better vantage point and to see how dazzling a sunset could be, we walked ten minutes out of town and up a tiny hill for this jaw-dropping vista. You’d think any vision of snow would be a mirage, but at 17,00 ft the Andes can beat the desert heat.

07 Awasi cuisine

We made our way back to Awasi for dinner and knew we were in for a treat. The incredible menu changes daily, each meal with multiple courses of Chilean-fusion cuisine presented to perfection. Case in point: the raspberry sorbet, served in a candied baby papaya topped with a caramelized crisp…How beautiful is that?!

08 Cejar

We woke up early the next day for our first big excursion: A bike ride to Cejar Pond. Located in the middle of the Atacama Salt Flat, this pond is so salty that the buoyancy rivals the Dead Sea. What looks like white rocks around this pool are actually salt crystals.

09 Moon Valley-Atacama

If there is one iconic spot in San Pedro de Atacama’s varied landscape, it would have to be the Moon Valley. Numerous travelers gather at its ridge for sunset but our guide had a secret peak in mind. Carrying a cooler of wine, cheese, crackers, fruit and mixed nuts, our amazing Awasi team led Mike and I up a steep hill for the most breathtaking and exclusive sun-downers.

10 Death Valley Atacama Awasi

The next morning we slept in to enjoy a late breakfast, the hotel pool, and to gear up for some late-day horseback ride and stargazing. I’m not a rider, but when presented with the opportunity to gallop through the magnificent dunes of Death Valley, I suddenly found my equestrian within.

11 Atacama Stargazing

When 10pm stuck were swept away by Awasi’s resident astronomer Jorge Antonio Corante Fernández and into the desert abyss for our stargazing session. With a rainfall of four inches every 1,000 years, and 0% humidity nearly every day of the year, the Atacama has some of the clearest and most spectacular night skies. Jorge had all the knowledge and high tech telescopes to teach us about all the stars we never get to see in the Northern Hemisphere and more.

12 Tatio Geysers

The thing we loved most about Awasi is that the luxury isn’t confined within the walls of their lodge; it follows guests wherever they go. This sit-down sunrise breakfast, aside the steaming Tatio Geysers, is one of many examples. With Awasi, wherever we wanted to go, whatever we wanted to do, it was always possible and achieved with unforgettable style.


Anne and Mike Howard are creators of the around-the-world honeymoon blog and Trip Coaches or those looking to extensively travel the world safely, affordably and off the beaten path. You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @HoneyTrek.