Category Archives: Hotels

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The Babel Suites, San Telmo, Buenos Aires

The Babel Suites are a relatively new addition to the lively (and still slightly edgy) San Telmo. As a result they offer pretty good value in the lower-mid range of hotels.  This was my base for my first night in Buenos Aires and it served me very well.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘Suites’ the idea is for your room to be spacious, and some limited space and facilities for self-catering; so public areas are normally very limited.
In this case there’s a breakfast room and on the roof terrace a few tables and sun loungers, and a very small pool.

The rooms are nicely done with plenty of space, a sofa area, and a balcony overlooking the lively Calle Mexico.

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NB: there are a few different properties in Buenos Aires with the name ‘Babel’; be sure not to confuse them.

Book a room here if you want: to stay in San Telmo, with a cool spacious room, at a good price.

ODILE SOFA VALPO

Valparaiso and the Palacio Astoreca Hotel

Odile works with some of the top hotels in Chile. Here she shares her thoughts on one of her favourite cities in Chile and the new Palacio Astoreca Hotel there.

ODILE SOFA VALPO

How do you know Valparaiso?

I am half Chilean & lived in Chile for many years, Valparaiso is the first place I would take any of my friends visiting from abroad!

Is it easy to get there from Santiago airport?

It’s only an hour away from Santiago airport and 1,5 hours away from the city. You can easily find a private transfer that will take you to Valparaíso from the airport.

How would you spend your perfect 24 hours there?

As the historical quarters of Valparaíso and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cerro Alegre is the place to be. It is the perfect place to go for a wander, there are little maps on every street corner showing the most scenic routes where you can discover the street art Valparaíso is so famous for.

Walk through the famous Yugoslavo pedestrian walk, stopping at the Fine Arts Museum at Barburizza Palace en route, as well as at any café that is bound to have a very Bohemian and quirky vibe as most of the city does. Take the funiculars to move around the hills as the locals do and definitely visit the famous house/museum of the chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

Remember to take LOTS of pictures, Valparaíso is an open invitation for snap happy people!  

You’ll probably need a good massage after a day out and about on the colourful hillsides!! I would find a place to enjoy the view of the sun setting on the pacific ocean with a glass of pisco sour (the national drink) on a terrace and head out for dinner with lots of fresh sea food (there is a wide, very good, gastronomic offer) and finish at a live music bar! 

Tell us about the Astoreca. What makes it special?

Palacio Astoreca is a Victorian mansion built in 1923 and restored into a boutique hotel which opened in Sept 2013. It is located in the prime location of Cerro Alegre just on top of the funicular El Peral. It has just become a member of Relais & Châteaux so it’s safe to say it’s the best option in town!

It has a very eclectic bohemian chic style mixing old and new, full of colours and art, with a wonderful spa and the best possible view from the terrace. Plus it has an amazing restaurant called Alegre, led by Spanish chef Sergio Barroso who worked at El Bulli amongst others, the 11 course tasting menu is absolutely a must.

What are the top 3 things you think a first time visitor shouldn’t miss?

  1. Walking around Valparaíso Cerro Alegre Hill & taking lots of pictures of the street art
  2. I’m the biggest fan of the house of Pable Neruda, it’s my personal favourite of the 3
  3. The sunset with a glass of wine or Pisco Sour

ODILE VALPO

Customer review: Patagonia Camp

Jen visited Torres del Paine national park a few days ago and stayed at the Patagonia Camp. She kindly shared some of her feedback about the guides, the location and the facilities and service at the camp.

How was Torres del Paine?

The Torres del Paine were incredibly beautiful. Being spring, there were all kinds of small fauna running around, a great addition.

How was your guide?

My guide, Jorge, was really excellent. He clearly loves his job and was eager to share his information with us. Our drivers were also really good and careful.

Tell us about Patagonia Camp itself

The yurts and set up of the physical plant were quite beautiful. Our days were really full. Every evening I had an invitation to join others for dinner and our days were quite full. The groups that passed through were predominately American although there were a scattering of Europeans and Brazilians, which made it more interesting.

What could have been better about the camp?

Corrine at the front desk spoke very good English but the other woman did not. When I called twice, it took a while for her to understand what I was ringing about. I don’t know if they advertise English speakers or not. For example, my first request for more conditioner was supposedly passed on to Housekeeping, but did not arrive. I asked again the next day in person and it was taken care of.
One call to the front desk that took some time to explain to receptionist was regarding a leak in the yurt, causing the floor to be wet.  Given the damage on the floor, it was obvious that this had been a recurring problem. Although late, they sent someone out to look at it. The leak was underneath the desk, so a minor nusaince however I am surprised it was undetected previously.
The yurt was definately properly cleaned but we were provided shampoo, lotion and conditioner on arrival – rather than 2 bottles of each, I received 3 lotions and 1 conditioner. (They are the same color, so likely a mix up). When I left hand towel to be replaced, it was not. For turn down service one evening, the staff walked in when I was still in the yurt. Rather than return later, there was no turn down that evening.
On my last cleaning, they look the trash bag out of the garbage can, but did not remove it from the yurt. Rather absent mindedly left it on the desk instead.

Is there anything you think people planning a trip to the camp should know?

The starting point to each activity was at least 2 hours away, meaning a minimum of 4 hours driving each day and often times longer. In the case of Lago grey, it was 3 hours due to the road blockage.
The weather is unpredictable and has a big impact on your activities. The Patagonia Camp literature highlights a number of activities (eg kayaking) that just aren’t available. Jorge helped us make good decisions each day and provided opportunities to change itineraries when the weather got really bad.

10 Days in Los Glaciares and Torres del Paine

Este recently returned from her trip to Patagonia where she spent 5 days hiking in El Chalten followed by 5 days hiking and kayaking in Torres del Paine using Eco Camp Patagonia as a base. Here she tells us about her adventures and gives us some really great feedback on the local operators and us here at Swoop Patagonia!

‘Thank you everyone for all your help letting me have the trip of a lifetime… it really was a trip of a lifetime!!’

How did Swoop do?

Had it not been for you guys, this trip would never have happened for me and I am really grateful towards you guys!

I had contacted 2 other travel agencies prior to getting in touch with Swoop Travel and neither of them would assist me because I wanted to visit in September, and because I wanted to string together shorter excursions as opposed to doing one longer trip.

If Swoop Travel had turned me away I would have given up on the trip all together, so thank you Chloe and Luke for referring me to your partners! I really appreciate all you help and assistance with my many emails and questions!

How were our Partners in Patagonia?

I had an excellent time in El Calafate and El Chalten! Even now, days later, I am still speechless about everything I saw and experienced…I will have to return to El Calafate and El Chalten again!

Pedro, my guide in El Chalten was very informative and patient with me taking photos of everything… I would highly recommend him. He not only answered all of my questions but also shared funny stories from previous experiences.

Chilé rocked! Ecocamp was great, not only the excursions, but I have an additional 2kg to show for the great food I had there..!

All of the guides and staff were professional, knowledgeable and informative, and went the extra mile to arrange a kayaking trip for me, which truly was a dream come true!

I did find Ecocamp’s itinerary very rigid, they keep you busy the whole day. I did appreciate it, but I think it can get tiring after 3 days. At some points you just want to kick your feet up and be in the moment.

Highlight of the Trip

Definitely the Perito Moreno Glacier and Grey Glacier! (And hikes… and kayaking!)

Any Tips for Other Travellers?

I found all the places extremely foreigner-friendly. I would really recommend that someone have a semi-rigid itinerary, but allow equal time for unplanned excursions like going to the Glaciarium and Ice Bar, or just strolling around the wetlands in El Calafate. El Chalten is also very solo-hiker friendly.

I would emphasize that if someone wants to experience the nature in full, they rather go in September. Most restaurants aren’t open in El Chalten at this time, but it’s a good thing. The places that cater for the locals are open. I did a full day solo hike and only saw one other hiker in the distance…I never crossed anyone on the path and this was great!

I also noticed that a lot of people catch the 08h00 bus from El Calafate to El Chalten and return the same day at 18h00 which I wouldn’t recommend. I decided to sleep over and catch the 18h00 bus on the following day, you miss too much if you stay for only a couple of hours.

Would You Have Done Anything Differently?

There honestly isn’t a thing I would change on my itinerary. If I had an additional day to work with I would have liked to stay one day in Puerto Natales. Lonely Planet did not speak very highly of the town and they don’t recommend staying over there, but I was in the town for only an hour and thought it might be worth checking out in the future.

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Things to Do and Places to Stay in Buenos Aires

As it’s our favourite place to stop off on the way to Patagonia, we thought we’d recommend a couple of hotels and a couple of things to do if you’re planning to visit Buenos Aires on your way down south. Luke and I have stayed at several hotels such as this tango-themed Mansion Dandi Royal hotel in San Telmo with impressive decor throughout. I thought it was cool but it’s not to everyone’s taste and it can be a little bit noisier in the evenings when the tango academy is in full swing on the lower ground floor.

We’ve got some clients going to stay at Casa de las Canitas, which looks like a quiet tranquil spot in the heart of a really fun and leafy part of town: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g312741-d629309-Reviews-Casa_Las_Canitas_Hotel_Boutique-Buenos_Aires_Capital_Federal_District.html or if you want to treat yourselves a bit, there’s Legado Mitico which is a lovely art-themed hotel in the centre of Palermo: http://blog.swoop-patagonia.co.uk/193229-hotel-buenos-aires-legado-mitico-customer-review/

Aside from doing some of the touristy things like going to Plaza de Mayo and the Recoleta cemetery, you should go and take a walk around Puerto Madero, the port which was revamped a couple of years ago. It’s nice in the evening as it’s all lit up and again there are quite a few bars and restaurants. I’d definitely recommend spending time in Palermo, where there are great little boutique shops, fun bars and really nice restaurants with a good atmosphere, perfect for watching the world go by on a balmy Buenos Aires evening. In Palermo Viejo there’s the well known La Cabrera restaurant which is supposed to do some of the best steak in Bueno Aires (and I agree!)

If you would like to book a room at one of the hotels featured, we recommend booking.com as they tend to have the best rates available and they give Swoop a small commission!
Casa Las Canitas
Legado Mitico
Dandi Royal

We hope that gives you some food for thought…

Las Marianas in Bariloche

Customer review of Hosteria Las Marianas, Bariloche

Anthony visited Bariloche in early 2012 and whilst there stayed at Hosteria Las Marianas, run by several generations of ‘Marianas’.
I spent 6 very happy nights at the Hosteria Las Marianas. It is clean and the rooms are nice. I felt utterly secure there to the extent that I left many of my possessions there for the 2 days that I went kayaking. They serve only breakfast but it is a good one.
Both the owners and the staff are really delightful; nothing is too much trouble for any of them.
Las Marinias is 10 minutes walk from downtown and so very convenient.
It is very good value and, without hesitation, I recommend it very strongly as a great place to stay. Thank you for booking me in.
Las Marianas is certainly a favourite of ours too, Luke stayed there last October and agreed that it’s a great place to base yourself whilst in Bariloche. If you’d like to stay there, get in touch with Swoop or book online.

Hotel in Bariloche: Las Marianas

Tim and Carla spent their honeymoon in Argentina and Chile mixing Buenos Aires luxury with skiing and exploring in Bariloche. They’ve been kind enough to share some of their experiences on the Swoop blog. This second post is about a lovely little friendly hotel that they stayed at in the alpine town of Bariloche, in the Patagonian Lake District.
‘There were very few regrets we had on our travels, however, the decision to stay only one night at this delightful hotel was one. Due to problems with the ash cloud our transfer to Bariloche was delayed and we arrived in the middle of the night. Not to worry, Mariana had arranged for a small welcome party to let us and get us settled. The rooms are cosy and clean, the breakfast is homemade, simple but delicious. Mariana and the staff are fantastic. Prior to our arrival, during our stay and even after, Mariana was only too happy to help you make the most of the trip and make suggestions to help us including ski hire, directions, taxis and where to get the best meal on the mountain!
A delightful hotel in a wonderful location.’
Fancy staying at Las Marianas? Get in touch here or read more about Tim and Carla’s adventures in Patagonia.

Hotel in El Chalten: La Aldea, customer review

Tim and Carla spent their honeymoon in Argentina and Chile mixing Buenos Aires luxury with trekking the W Circuit of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. They’ve been kind enough to share some of their experiences on the Swoop blog. This second post is about a relaxing and comfortable hotel they used at the base of Mount Fitz Roy in the small town of El Chalten, gateway to Los Glaciares National Park. 
 

 
‘What a great, reasonably priced hotel this is in the small town of El Chalten. Although the rooms are on the small side, they are cosy and warm, and the lounge area is nice to sit in if you need some space. Natalia and Eduardo were welcoming and very informative for advice regarding walks, excursions and restaurants. Definitely go to La Tapera to eat by the way. Eduardo (whose English is superb) is also keen for guests to help him use up his extensive whiskey collection if feeling sociable. Breakfast is basic but fills a hole. What a super base for checking out the walks and activities in this beautiful national park.”

To check availability and rates at La Aldea click here. Alternatively, you can look at other Hotels in Chalten or contact us for advice.

We also recommend that you read more about Tim and Carla’s experience at Hotel Legado Mitico in Buenos Aires.

Hotel in Iguazu: La Aldea de Selva, customer review

Tim and Carla spent their honeymoon in Argentina and Chile mixing Buenos Aires luxury with trekking the W Circuit of Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. They’ve been kind enough to share some of their experiences on the Swoop blog. This second post is about a lodge and spa hotel they used on the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls called La Aldea de Selva.


What a great place for some peace and relaxation after the buzz and bustle of Buenos Aires. Although most people, like us, are here for a very short stay to see the falls, we thoroughly enjoyed some time to relax by the pool in 30o C sunshine, and laze and read in our own private hammock. The rooms are big and private with a unique natural feel, though I could have done with a couple more pillows! The food was reasonable at the hotel but we would recommend taking a cab into town to La Rueda to try some Surubi (common fish from he nearby Parana River). Deliciously cooked and really tasty. All in all a short but very sweet visit up north.

To check availability and rates at La Aldea de Selva click here. Alternatively, you can look at other accommodation options in Iguazu or contact us for advice.

We also recommend that you read more about Tim and Carla’s experience at Hotel Legado Mitico in Buenos Aires.

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Hotel Buenos Aires: Legado Mitico, customer review

Tim and Carla spent their honeymoon in Argentina and Chile mixing Buenos Aires luxury with some great adventures in Patagonia. They’ve been kind enough to share some of their experiences on the Swoop blog. This first one is about a fantastic hotel they used in Buenos Aires called Legado Mitico.

After a long flight from London, the sanctitude of the Legado Mitico hotel was just the tonic we needed. The hotel is located in the trendy, lively and smart Palermo region of BA.

The hotel staff are friendly, helpful and courteous and we were encouraged to relax in the lounge and offered breakfast (not included) after our flight. We stayed at the hotel twice in 3 weeks and had the opportunity to try out 2 different rooms. Each room is beautifully decorated in a latin style, individually tailored to a specific famous Argentinian person. The rooms are spacious, comfortable and quiet. Each room has its own Wifi source and large bed.

The breakfast covers all options and the fresh fruit and pastries are delicious. The homemade juices and selection of teas and coffee whilst you sit in the relaxing lounge is the perfect way to start the day.

The hotel recommended and booked all of our evening meals and we were never disappointed. The famous La Cabrera is a must and only a short stroll around the corner, which after the portions they serve is a blessing! This smart, relaxing and unpretentious oasis made the perfect setting for the start and end of our fabulous South American adventure.

To check availability and rates at the Legado Mitico either contact us or check here.