Esquel has abundant budget accommodations but little in the upper categories, and things can get tight in summer and in ski season. Standards in general, though, are good.
Casa Familiar Rowlands (Rivadavia 330, tel. 02945/45-2578, gales01 [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$11 pp) has expanded from a simple family house; breakfast costs US$1 more. Hostería El Cisne (Chacabuco 778, tel. 02945/45-2256, hosteria.el.cisne [at] gmail [dot] com, US$19 s, US$26 d) is comparable.
Backpackers can try Parador Lago Verde (Volta 1081, tel. 02945/45-2251, www.patagonia-verde.com.ar, US$11 pp), which, though no longer an HI affiliate, still offers good value. Casa del Pueblo (San Martín 661, tel. 02945/45-0581, www.esquelcasadelpueblo.com.ar, US$12 pp, US$32 d) is now the HI affiliate. The 10-room Hostería Lihuén (San Martín 822, tel. 02945/45-2589, f_ejarque [at] speedy [dot] com [dot] ar, US$26 s, US$30 d) is a friendly no-frills place where breakfast costs US$2 pp extra.
Renovated Hotel Esquel (San Martín 1044, tel. 02945/45-2534, hotelesquel [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$40 s, US$48 d) has improved, but the similarly priced Hostería los Tulipanes (Avenida Fontana 365, tel. 02945/45-2748, US$32 s, US$39 d) is a real find—the decor may be tacky, but the beds are firm, the baths spacious, and the breakfast abundant and diverse. There’s also warmth in the details, like bedside chocolates, in this family-run hostelry.
A commonplace facade conceals the spacious well-furnished rooms at Hostería Angelina (Avenida Alvear 758, tel./fax 02945/45-2763, hosteriaangelina [at] argentina [dot] com, US$45–47 s, US$50–66 d), whose gregarious owner goes out of his way to make guests feel welcome. Rates include telephone, cable TV, parking, and central heating; the buffet breakfast (US$2 pp) includes croissants, ham, cheese, bread, cereal, fruit and fruit salad, coffee, and tea.
Other options include Hotel Sol del Sur (9 de Julio 1086, tel. 02945/45-2189, www.hsoldelsur.com.ar, US$32–44 s, US$40–66 d), alpine-styled Hostería La Tour D’Argent (San Martín 1063, tel. 02945/45-4612, www.latourdargent.com.ar, US$42 s, US$58 d), and spacious Hotel Tehuelche (9 de Julio 825, tel. 02945/45-2420, www.cadenarayentray.com.ar, US$51–57 s, US$64–70 d).
In the Villa Ayelén neighborhood, opposite the racetrack just south of the town center, Hostería Canela (Los Notros and Los Radales, tel. 02945/45-3890, www.canelaesquel.com, US$115 s or d) is a former teahouse turned bed-and-breakfast with six spacious rooms on immaculate grounds. Hosts Jorge Miglioni and Verónica Ayling speak fluent English, provide an ample breakfast, and offer dining and excursions suggestions.
The 20 midsize-plus rooms at Hostería Cumbres Blancas (Avenida Ameghino 1683, tel. 02945/45-5100, www.cumbresblancas.com.ar, US$150 s, US$216 d) look as good as the day they opened a decade ago, and some are nonsmoking. It also has Wi-Fi, a sauna, a highly regarded restaurant, and grounds that include its own mini-golf course and a duck pond. If business is slow, try asking for the lower Argentine rates.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition