Pucon was a good stopping point for us between Santiago and Puerto Varas where we could continue on to Patagonia. There were a number of hostels that had good reviews and were within budget, so selecting was a little hard. We ended up selecting Hostal el Nogal, a highly rated hostel near the bus terminal.
Andy had downloaded the Google maps of the city on his phone. We knew that the hostel was a short walk from the TurBus station which is where we were coming from. As we were leaving the station, a man asked us if we had a hostel. We said yes and then he tried to find out what one. We’ve read about people trying to convince you that the hostel is full but go with them to another one that is better and has room so we blew him off. Imagine my horror when I saw the same man at our hostel. He was the owner, meeting us at the bus station to walk us back to the hostel and check us in. Whoops!
Our Room at Hostal el Nogal
We had a private room with a double bathroom. My favorite part of our room was that we shared a private common area with only 1 other room. It felt a little more like an apartment than it did a hostel.
When the owner showed us the room, he told us that we had a great view of the volcano from our window. It was covered in clouds at the time, but when it cleared, it was pretty awesome. We had an unbelievable view of the volcano, which was really clear the majority of the time that we were in Pucon.
The bed was comfortable and we slept well. The room also had a radiator heater which we did not end up needing to turn on. In fact, we got hot if anything, opening the window in the morning to cool down the room and get some fresh air.
My only issue with the room was that the walls were quite thin. Even though we only had 1 neighbor, it included an older Latin woman who talked excessively loud on her cellphone. This is nothing that the hostel can control, but was a minor annoyance for us, especially since she was on the phone until midnight one of the nights.
The bathroom was a bit small, but had everything that we needed and was clean.
When I first opened the shower curtain to take a shower, I started laughing. It was a bathtub, but the smallest bathtub that I have ever seen. I think the only thing that could actually bathe in it would be a small toddler. We were happy that there was great water pressure and abundant hot water.
We had access to not only 1 but 2 shared kitchens. We opted to use the smaller one outside of our room which was a little more private. It was basic with a small fridge and 4 burner stove but all we needed. The biggest positive though was that the kitchen itself and everything in the kitchen was very clean.
There was a great grocery store only a few blocks from our hostel which made getting everything that we needed to cook meals a snap. In fact, we did not eat out once in the 2.5 days that we were in Pucon, cooking all of our meals ourselves. Both our bodies and our wallets thanked us for eating healthy food with lots of vegetables. At the grocery store we were also able to find really cheap wine, so with both of our dinners we had wine to drink as well.
One other great thing that we found at the grocery store was chocolate hardshell for ice cream. Andy was really excited about this, so we bought some hardshell and a small container of ice cream. Andy is still carrying around the remaining hardshell in his backpack until we are able to buy ice cream again.
The owner was great and did everything that he could to help us during our time there. His English wasn’t great and our Spanish is still a work in progress, but that never stopped us from getting what we needed.
When we were in Pucon we tried to book bus tickets to Patagonia. Our credit card wasn’t working for some reason and the owner offered for us to use his debit card to purchase bus tickets, just paying him back in cash. At the end of the day his card didn’t work either, but he didn’t let that stop him from trying. He went above and beyond, calling the bus company to see if we could book the tickets over the phone. The answer was no, but we felt that we had tried everything that we could to book the bus tickets that weren’t meant to be. We took it as a sign that we were supposed to book airline tickets for a 2 hour flight instead of enduring a 33 hour bus ride.
We arrived from Santiago in the morning and were told to have breakfast if we wanted. I thought this was a very nice gesture as our booking only technically included 2 breakfasts. The breakfast was very basic – bread, yogurt and juice but we were grateful to have something to eat when we arrived.
The rest of the days, we opted to use our private kitchen to have a bowl of cereal instead of rolls, something that we seem to have in every hostel on our trip.
Once we were lead to the building outside of the main building, I had very little faith that the internet would work in our room. I was pleasantly surprised that the common area near our room had its own router. The signal worked perfectly and the wifi was fast. We were happy that we had good wifi as it had been a little while since we had talked to our families via video chat.
The hostel was a short 3 minute walk to the TurBus station which worked out well for us since that is where we arrived. Town was only a 10 minute walk away, which was not bad at all. In fact, I actually preferred being away from town since it was quieter, plus town wasn’t that great in my mind. Everything was very touristy with lots of travel agencies, outdoor stores and overpriced restaurants. It felt like Jackson Hole, Wyoming – at least according to Andy, I’ve never been there.
While Pucon came off as just average to me, our hotel was above average. It felt like we had our own private apartment with a kitchen for a very reasonable price. Everything was extremely clean, with the owner’s daughter constantly cleaning things around the hostel. For a few hours on our last day we sat in the common area of the hostel and used the wifi to do some work online. At times I felt a little bad that she was working so hard when we were just sitting around, but then I remembered that hard work is good for kids.
If you are traveling with another group, I would see if you could book both rooms in the building above the family. That way, your group will have a private kitchen in addition to private bedrooms.