“A peaceful retreat in colonial-style splendour, stunningly situated in Purmamarca, the most idyllic village in the Quebrada de Humahuaca, 2 hours north of Jujuy”
You might well think you’ve stumbled upon an old monastery, or a colonial staging post, lovingly restored. The beauty of El Manantial’s design is that, despite being just 15 years old, its architecture retains the key hallmarks of local traditions: white washed adobe, high ceilings made of cane, simple windows, stone floors and white interior walls.
The décor in the bedrooms makes the most of these simple features and enhances the setting. The effect is so harmonious it’s magical. The view of vivid red mountain from your window is framed by tall wooden shutters and wafting white muslin curtains from a wrought iron pole. Inside, simple dark wooden furniture sets off a pristine white armchair; the burnt wood headboard on the bed gives elegance to simple neutral linen bed coverings and Egyptian cotton sheets. There are duvets (unusually for Argentina) and a selection of pillows. The only picture on the walls is like treasure: a reproduction Cuzqueño school painting from the amazing series of angels in battledress in Uquía church.
There’s a colonial arch to an ample wardrobe area and the bathroom, where granite and modern white ceramics are softened by a flower-painted mirror frame and a locally woven barracán bag concealing the hairdryer. Everything you need is here and simple toiletries are provided, though there’s nothing ostentatious. There are phones, a safe, WiFi and heating, but no television (though there’s one downstairs), and this adds to the serene feel.
The hotel's 1 suite sits on the upper floor. Its simple styling matches that in the bedrooms, but it has the added luxuries of a Jacuzzi, a canopied bed and a private sitting room, all with direct views of the Cerro de Siete Colores.
Also available is a separate self-contained house, set 20m away from reception. With 2 double bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a TV room and a living area, it's ideal for families or groups. Its windows look out over the garden, with glimpses of the mountians beyond.
Whichevere option you choose, you’ll sleep deeply in the quiet atmosphere of the silent village at night, and somehow the proximity of the mountains casts a special spell.
The huge dining room is in 2 parts: have breakfast by wide floor-to-ceiling windows, where sunlight pours in, with lovely views of the pool and the mountains to the back of the hotel. Dine in the more intimate part of the room, where red curtains and vivid embroidered wall hangings, oversized ceramic plates and hanging candle holders bring an exotic flavour to the white walls and stone floors. Rustic dark wood chairs are given elegant treatment with individual barracán woven seats, and the effect is Spanish colonial with contemporary flair.
Breakfasts are very satisfying: choose from an extensive array laid out on the side table. There are fresh fruit juices, fruit salads, yoghurt, cereals, hams, cheeses, pastries, bread to toast and delicious homemade jams. Try the dulce de membrillo (quince jam) and the delicious local goats cheese. Tea is the usual bag-in-a-cup scenario and coffee is ready prepared in flasks, but hot chocolate submarinos will delight the children.
Lunch and dinner are surprisingly lavish, given the remoteness of the setting. Chef Sergio Latorre was recently invited to Italy’s worldwide Slow Food event to demonstrate how he’s using traditional local ingredients such as quinoa and llama, and giving them a contemporary treatment in delicate concoctions which would hold their own in any Buenos Aires restaurant. Cheerful service from the delightful Nora makes you feel very welcome, and children can be catered for with special dishes.
Sit in the spacious lounge area on huge sofas (with a roaring fire if it’s winter) for a drink before dinner or a coffee afterwards. There’s a superb wine list, and the puddings are excellent too. Far from being monastic, El Manantial's restaurant indulges the stomach as much as its scenery indulges the eye.
Children will love the hotel's wide open spaces, the simple garden and the pool. There are bikes to hire for exploring the hills and the salt flats are magical expanses for kids.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
There's a self-contained house 20m from reception, which has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and can take a couple of extra beds. Otherwise baby cots can be added to all other rooms
Babysitting is available by arrangement
Baby cots are available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The buffet breakfast offers options for kids and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner