The hotel is at the end of the road inside the National Park, a good ten minutes drive from the park entrance and about twenty minutes from the airport. The Iguassu Falls are huge and seem to extend in every direction from whichever viewpoint you choose. The hotel faces a good collection of falling water but to get even the best local views you have to leave the hotel and cross the road. There are rooms facing the falls but guests who pay extra for the view may be a bit disappointed.
The hotel is charming and very well run. Everything works. It has a spacious "old Colonial" appearance with high ceilings, wide corridors, lots of polished wood and a feeling of calm efficiency.
We had a Junior Suite on the first (top) floor of the main building. There was a good sitting area and a spacious entrance lobby with ample storage. The large bathroom had a bath and separate walk-in shower and there were quality amenities including various kinds of good soap. The bed was superbly comfortable and room service kept the bottled water topped up as it was used. There was free WiFi with a good signal.
There are two places to eat. The formal dining room has an outdoor terrace at the front of the hotel, facing the falls though with no real view. Among the local dishes on the menu was alligator and fresh water river fish. There were plenty of alternatives to keep the less adventurous contented.
A less formal dining area near the pool served breakfast and the dinner service was from a generous fixed price buffet. For someone wanting to go easy the best alternative option was the pool bar with snacks or the room service menu. There are no other restaurant option in the park but guests can go into the local town which is about thirty minutes away. Foz do Iguassu (the locals pronounce it with the emphasis on the last syllable - IguasSU) was larger than I expected and is very hilly. The main area has steep streets and you think twice about walking up some of the hills when the temperature is in the mid-thirties. Across the river is Ciudad del Este, the second largest city in Paraguay but we were warned that immigration back into Brazil can sometimes mean a long wait, so we did not cross the bridge.
To see the falls properly you need to visit both sides of the river. Brazil faces more of the falls than Argentina but Argentina has a lot to offer as well and is well worth the several hours it takes from the hotel. We took a private tour with a driver-guide from the hotel. You can tour the Argentinian National Park on your own but our guide steered us around the park, unrushed, and made sure we saw the falls easily, picking the best of innumerable options.
The main part of the Argentinian park is on the opposite bank of the river from the hotel but it takes a good hour to get there. One minor point to watch is where the hotel tour office told us that we needed Argentinian pesos to purchase our park entrance and that they did not accept Brazilian currency, nor credit cards. It had to be cash and the only place to purchase pesos was a money exchange en-route, cash only. We accordingly made a stop at a souvenir shop with a vast display of tourist tat and surrendered dollars for pesos. Passage through Brazilian and Argentine immigration was fast, we never left the car, then in the park entrance found an ATM that took all cards including AmEx. There was only one dispenser and a small line waiting to use it but we took more for use on our proper entry to Argentina in Buenos Aires later on. Do we hear 'commission' on the exercise we accepted in good faith? It did not seem up to the fine standards the hotel otherwise sets.
You can explore the Brazilian side of the falls from the hotel. A trail begins opposite the hotel and is described as a 750m walk. It does not mention that it also involves hundreds of steps down, up and then down more than once gradually descending to the river below the falls. It is a safe walk with innumerable views and some odd animals like iguanas that are not concerned about passing humans. The trail might concern people with mobility problems who feared the walk back up to the hotel. However, at the far end there is an elevator to the road above and the park's free bus service will get you back to the hotel. The trail can be avoided completely by taking the bus from the hotel to the elevator to start the tour.
The Iguassu Falls make up the largest and grandest waterfall in the world and this hotel is the place to stay for the greatest enjoyment of them.
One small and odd point in conclusion: On our arrival as our luggage was unloaded and we stepped inside the lobby we were warmly greeted by a well dressed man in a dark suit and welcomed to the Hotel with a friendly handshake. We were quite impressed that the management had turned out to meet us as we were booked into only a fairly standard Junior Suite. When the greeter then pressed an advertising brochure into our hands and hoped we would spend a lot of money in his jewellery outlet we did cringe at being taken in this way. The real management should send the fellow back to his counter and let the hotel staff welcome guests in their own way.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facing the spectacular Iguacu Falls in Iguacu National Park, the 5-star Belmond Hotel das Cataratas provides free Wi-Fi internet access. Guests can enjoy a cocktail by the swimming pool or play a game of tennis on the provided court. The falls can be experienced by speed boat, rafting or by a helicopter flyover. For excitement and adventure, guests can enjoy abseiling, rock climbing and canopy walks. Walking tours allow for the surrounding lush rain forest to be explored. Belmond Hotel das Cataratas offers traditional Portuguese styled rooms with a flat screen TV, dark wood furniture and warm natural tones. Some rooms provide a balcony and seating area. The two restaurants on-site provide views of the falls and of the hotel's pool. They serve a selection of international and local Brazilian cuisine. In the evening live music can be enjoyed in the downstairs bar. The Iguacu Falls lie between the Brazilian state of Parana and Argentina. The Brazilian side offers postcard panoramic views, while the Argentinian side provides varied, up-close views. The hotel is located in a privileged position, alongside the Iguassu Falls. It is in fact the only hotel situated in the Iguassu National Park. Because of its prime location, the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas offers its guests a unique experience - taking walks along the trails by the falls which may be done at any time during the day, with the added advantage that from 7 a.M to 9 a.M, the trails are for guests of the hotel exclusively. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Das Cataratas Hotel
- Tropical Das Cataratas
- Hotel Das Cataratas
- Hotel Tropical Das Cataratas
- Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil - Parana