Hotel El Manantial del Silencio

Purmamurca, Salta & Northwest, Argentina Book from

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
Fling wide the windows in the morning: the view from your room is the vivid red, cream, green and aubergine rock of the celebrated Cerro de Siete Colores (the 'Rock of Seven Colours'), peeping between golden fringes of tall poplars beyond the quiet village of Purmamarca.

Since the spectacular 150-mile valley of Quebrada de Humahuaca was declared a World Heritage site, hotels have mushroomed in the main towns of Tilcara and Humahuaca. Purmamarca alone remains blissfully tranquil, despite a trickle of tourists perusing the handicrafts market in the plaza. El Manantial del Silencio is in keeping with its spirit: a white monastic-style building, with spare wrought-iron details. Inside, luxury comes in wide spaces, flamboyantly coloured locally woven rugs, carved wood, 19 comfortable bedrooms, a small spa and a separate house. The cuisine is award-winning and the pool is gorgeous. The elegant simplicity instills a sense of peace, allowing you to unwind and absorb the ancient serenity of Andean culture. This hotel truly lives up to its name: 'the wellspring of silence'.

Highs

  • A glorious setting - nowhere else in this valley, deeply carved by the Rio Grande in Jujuy province, can you enjoy such a vista
  • A clever combination of peaceful simplicity in the décor, but with real comfort: excellent beds, good bathrooms and a welcoming lounge
  • Superb food - chef Sergio Latorre was invited to Italy’s Slow Food event for his reinvention of local dishes
  • A swimming pool (summer only) with mountain views, plus a small spa with an indoor Jacuzzi
  • Stunning hikes around the Cerro de Siete Colores - plus cycling and horse riding through the manager’s travel company, Sendas Andinas

Lows

  • The service can be patchy at times: the restaurant staff are excellent, but don’t expect top-hotel service on reception. The pace of life is slow in the Quebrada, and you might need to adjust!
  • It's a chance to practise your Spanish: few staff speak English
  • This is a place to retreat from the modern world: don't expect all the mod cons
  • It's not the cheapest hotel in the area, but it's certainly the nicest

Best time to go

Purmamarca is delightful all year round. Summers can be rainy, with short torrential downpours; winters are bright and sunny, and chilly only in the evenings. Book ahead for the Argentine holiday periods of January, February, Easter and July. Easter has a very special ceremony in Tilcara when thousands of pan pipe musicians descend on the town for a religious pilgrimage. While this is most definitely worth seeing, all hotels are booked up months in advance.

Our top tips

Remember that you’re at 2,200m above sea level and might be affected by the altitude: don’t run anywhere, walk slowly, eat lightly, and drink plenty of fluids.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 19
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Standard

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Safe box

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander around Purmamarca village absorbing local life: simple agriculture, adobe buildings and kids playing in the school playground

  • Go shopping for excellent handicrafts. Don’t bother with the market on the main plaza, since it largely sells mass-produced Bolivian goods, but go instead to Regionales el Cardón, the large shop facing the church, where you can buy excellent weavings, silver and wooden bowls, cowhide-covered and carved pots, and all manner of things made out of prized local cactus wood. The prices are reasonable and there’s no need to barter

  • Pop into the local church, Iglesia Santa Rosa de Lima. Typical of the traditional colonial churches in the Quebrada, it has squat white walls and a single bell tower. Inside, the roof and pulpit of cactus wood are beautifully time-darkened, and - once your eyes adjust - you’ll find a series of lovely paintings depicting the life of Santa Rosa. Outside the algarrobo tree is said to be over a thousand years old

  • The Cerro de Siete Colores offers great walking. From the southwestern corner of the plaza, there's a 2-hour circular route around the back of the hill, with wonderfully eroded terracotta rocks set off by the lush greenery of irrigated fields. Ask anyone for the Circuito Los Colorados

  • Or borrow bicycles from the hotel and explore the red hills and green valleys on 2 wheels

  • 90 minutes’ drive up the spectacular Cuesta de Lipán, you’ll be amazed by limitless shimmering salt flats. Hire a car from Salta or Jujuy at the start of your trip to make the most of these and other delights in the area, or ask for a trip from reception in the hotel (book in advance). The salt flats are stunning at midday, when the sky is an unbelievably blue, and even more so at sunset

  • Purmamarca is the best base for exploring the whole Quebrada de Humahuaca. Don’t miss the Pucará at Tilcara, or the church with its paintings in Uquía.

  • Allow time in your schedule to swim, lie around reading or do nothing: this is the wellspring of silence, after all!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking

Kids

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.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

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:

Babysitting is available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The buffet breakfast offers options for kids and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool
  • Garden

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Salt flats
  • Discovering indigenous culture
  • Bikes to hire

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour (Jujuy)
  • Shops: 1 hour (Jujuy)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
6/
Food
6/
Service
8/
Value
7/
Overall

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Rates for Hotel El Manantial del Silencio