My wife and I had at best a fair experience at Hosteria Los Helechos. This hotel is in the budget category, which we're very familiar with, but in comparison with other hotels and inns in this category, I'd say it is more toward the bottom. For the price, we weren't expecting a five-star experience, but there are just certain elements of basic hospitality and cleanliness that should be expected from any tourist accommodation.
Let's start with the pluses. Los Helechos is located in a very convenient part of Puerto Iguazu. The bus terminal, where you'll make all your connections to Iguazu Falls in Argentina or Brazil, is just three blocks away. Similarly, most of the restaurants in town as well as a number of grocery stores are also within short walking distance. The nearest bank/ATM is about a 15-minute walk. The air conditioning in our room worked well, which is important if you're visiting in the summer, as we were. There are two Internet access computers in the lobby, which are available for use at very modest rates in 30 minute increments.
Needs improvement: Our room was dimly lit and marginally clean. Most disappointing were all the dead bugs smashed on the walls. I know this is the rain forest, and there are bugs, but seeing their remnants like so much wallpaper made bug spray a requirement before sleeping. The linens could use some updating. The bathrooms are very small and cramped, and that goes for the showers as well. Breakfast largely consisted of leftover dinner rolls from the night before, a sad looking fruit cocktail, juice, and coffee. Ham and cheese are available, but you have to ask specifically for it. Los Helechos has its own restaurant, but in the two nights we stayed there, we never saw a soul dining in it.
Now for the "needs major improvement" category. Service here was terrible. The woman who greeted us, who shall remain nameless, was about the most unhelpful person we've encountered in our travels. She basically wanted nothing else than to check us in and be left alone. When we asked her about moonlight tours of Iguazu Falls, she told us to call the park administration and that she didn't have the number, and pointed us to the lobby payphone. The payphone didn't work, so she said we could use the front desk phone if we paid her. She dialed the number for us, told the person on the other side to hold for me, and she handed the phone to me, whereupon I had to ask for an English-speaking representative. Afterward, I offered the park administration number to her to write down for future reference for other guests, and she acted like it I was inconveniencing her. Later on, we witnessed her in a heated exchange with a Spanish-speaking guest, who no doubt had less tolerance for her antics. Upon checkout, she said that the shuttle to the airport had already left, and that we'd need a taxi. We didn't believe her, and guess what, she was wrong.
So, in summary, Hosteria Los Helechos is a decent place if you're an independent, never-rely-on-others type and looking for an air-conditioned place to sleep close to the bus terminal. The place is fairly cheap, but don't expect good value. Caveat emptor!
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