“A simple mountainside retreat in one of the most remote and beautiful villages in the Argentine Andes”
After the journey of a lifetime (or a hair-raising trip, if you’re of a nervous disposition), the calm bedrooms will come as a welcome surprise. Natural materials are used with a clean modern style, and the design creates harmony with the untouched landscapes outside the window. There are terracotta tiled floors, white walls, a desk, good cupboards, exposed wooden beams, white curtains framing the view and local weavings on the walls. The feel is minimalist but welcoming. Rooms are twin, double or triple, and the best have views out over the town, rather than mountainside or courtyard. There are heaters for winter and fans for summer.
Bathrooms are modern and impeccable. Don’t expect much in the way of toiletries other than soap, but all rooms have small baths as well as showers, and there’s plenty of hot water, plus that Argentine essential, a bidet. You can borrow a hairdryer from reception.
There are no phones or TVs in your room and this invites you to relax, absorb the views and tranquility, and switch off from modern life.
In a village 3 hours’ drive from the nearest town of any size, and 8 hours’ from a city, you’d expect fairly basic food. Here, the hostería exceeds expectation, making the best of ingredients grown locally, and drawing on traditional recipes to give you a flavour of typical northwest Argentinan cuisine. There are excellent empanadas of cheese, meat and llama. Locro (stew) and tamales (cornmeal filled with meat) are on offer, and the humitas (a blend of corn and cheese) are excellent. Everything is homemade and the bread is particularly good.
Breakfast is a pleasure on the terrace on warm days. Fresh OJ, fruit salad, then locally made bread, with dulce de leche and cayote jam made from local fruit. Tea and coffee are made to order, and eggs can be cooked for you too. If you’re heading out for the day, you can ask for a picnic lunch the night before. Specify what you’d like in your sandwiches or staff will assume you want cheese and ham.
Although Iruya is a tiny place, there are a number of small eateries to try. Just bear in mind that you’ll have to hike back up the steep hill afterwards - not recommended if you’re still adjusting to the altitude! Halfway down the main street on the right-hand side is a small local restaurant serving excellent regional dishes. Just look for the place with most people in it.
Further down at the bottom of the main street (just as the path turns left to another plaza with playground at its centre), there’s another lively little place - the 'Café del Hostal', of the Hostal Federíco III. Owner Jesús is a great singer, and there’s often live music at nights: pop in and ask during the day.
Kids dependent on urban or electronic entertainment might take time to adapt, but there’s lots of adventure to be had climbing or riding into the hills, and messing around on the river at La Palca. The hostería’s food is perfect for children, and they will make special meals if necessary.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
There are some triple rooms for families with one child - ask for an extra bed or cot if you need it
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
There's a very characterful (and slightly rickety) playground (a piece of wood has been shaped like a sheep) just at the bottom of the entrance steps. And another in the heart of the village which has a very large slide
Our child loved clambering about the Cemetery next door, and even did a good section of the San Isidro walk, which given the incline and altitude wasn't bad at all. We think she was fascinated by getting close to village life, pigs, donkeys, horses, chickens and all! Local children will also come up to you and make friends despite any lack of common language
You are in a high altitude region and far from the nearest town, so drink bottled water and make sure your little ones don't scamper off a hillside. The rivers can swell alarmingly after rains