Hostel Inn, Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
It said it was a hostel but the first thing you see when you arrive is the enormous pool. And not just any pool – there’s a volleyball net stretched across one part of it, there are deckchairs arranged around one side, and on the other side there are tables shielded from the sun by huge umbrellas.
Where are the smelly backpackers fighting for some leftover pasta? Where is the smell of stale alcohol and cigarette butts still hanging in the air from last night’s party?
What is this, a hostel or a resort?
Every time I had mentioned that I was heading to Iguazu, fellow travellers had recommended staying at the Hostel Inn Iguazu on the Argentinian side. It had led to a rather repetitive but still vaguely humorous conversation.
“Where should I stay?” “At the Hostel Inn Iguazu.” “Yeah, but which one?” “The Hostel Inn Iguazu!”
And so on… until the frustration got to the point where I lost another potential friend on the road. Still, it was probably always worth it.
Anyway, when I arrived there I could see why the place had come some highly-recommended (and I felt slightly bad for all the people I had annoyed with the joke about its name).
It’s not just the pool that gives it such a luxurious feeling. The enormous common area has pool tables, couches and a large restaurant. A well-stocked bar stands against one wall (at least one sign that this is a refuge for backpackers).
I had got used to the standard of hostels in South America – always friendly and welcoming but not necessarily the cleanest or the most modern.
Normally the oppressive heat was intensified in the small rooms and crowded common areas. But here was a place where you wished for the heat just so you could use the pool and appreciate the large cavernous reception area.
Gone were my memories of the Brazilian party hostels with organised events that began just before midnight and groups of foreign tourists looking for an excuse to act in way that would be socially unacceptable back home.
Here, in Iguazu, the guests sleep early and rise early to make the most of a wonder of the world on the doorstep. It’s as if being close to such natural beauty makes the backpackers realise how ugly they can act sometimes.
So, with that in mind, maybe it’s fitting that this hostel feels more relaxed, more comfortable and more lavish than any other I’ve visited in the continent so far.
If you enjoy your backpacker way of life, though, don’t worry. I’m sure there’s still enough tinea in the shower and bad Dan Brown novels on the bookshelf to make you feel at home.