San Carlos de Bariloche was not on our radar when we started our trip, but since we wanted to take a bus from El Chalten all the way up to Mendoza, we wanted to have a night in a real bed between the 2 night buses. The town is not known for being cheap. It is frequented by tourists in the winter (our summer) who flock to the lake and in the summer (our winter) ski on the nearby mountains. Since our goal was to sleep as cheap as possible, I started searching for any deals that I could find.
Booking.com often has daily deals which discount hotels. Normally the discounts are not massive, but for my date in San Carlos de Bariloche I was able to secure a room at Marcopolo Inn Hostel for 67% off. Even better, the room included not only breakfast, but also dinner. I was sold and booked the room immediately to make sure it didn’t go away.
When we arrived we were given the rundown on the rules of the hostel – no outside booze since they have a bar, no drugs, no outside visitors, etc. We had to sign a form which showed we consented to the rules before we were given our keys. Strangely, we had to pay a 50 peso or $4 deposit for the sheets and towels, money that would be refunded when we checked out. When we did check out, they gave us the money back without checking anything. I guess we don’t look like the type that would steal crappy linens?
Marcopolo Inn – Room 106
When we first opened the door we started laughing. There were not only 2 twin beds in the room, but the smallest twin beds that you have ever seen. I ran down to the front desk to see if they had a matrimonial room available but was told that they did not, we had gotten the last private double.
The decor reminded me of a vintage ski lodge or a grandmother’s house that hadn’t been updated in decades. There were plaid bedspreads and curtains along with wood paneling. Although we laugh now, the way that trends return it’ll probably be really trendy again in 20 more years.
Even more comical than the decor was our view or lack thereof. The windows looked out onto a cement block and were covered with wooden slats which served as security.
Getting to the bathroom from my bed was extremely easy being that the bed was about 4” from the bathroom door. I joked with Andy that it was a good thing we aren’t bigger since we would have had to move the bed to be able to get into the bathroom.
Similar to the bedroom, the bathroom was extremely dated. The decor included blue tiles which were popular in the 50’s. There was a dripping noise coming from the toilet which was a little annoying but didn’t keep us up. The towels that we had to pay our deposit to use had a few stains, holes and threads coming loose but they dried us which was all we needed.
The water pressure was good and the water hot so we enjoyed our 2 showers quite a lot. One when we arrived and the other in the morning.
Overall, while dated, the bathroom was clean and that was what was most important to us.
Marcopolo Inn – Amenities
This was the first time that I had ever seen dinner included in the price of a hostel. I knew that it wouldn’t be the best meal that we have ever had, but for free we wouldn’t complain. We had to put our name on the list before 7pm so the kitchen had a headcount as to how many dinners they needed to make.
Around 8pm when dinner was served we headed to the bar area and took a seat. Others around us were served their dinner but we kept waiting. Eventually a girl that worked there asked us if we were wanting dinner. When we told her that we were, she told us that we had to tell the bartender so they knew who to serve. This was a step that was not told to us when we checked in but was taken care of, shortly thereafter our dinner arrived.
The dinner was fettuccini pasta and was surprisingly good. The pasta was cooked the right amount and the sauce was a creamy tomato sauce, a step up from the traditional tomato sauce that is on most pastas. The portion was quite large and also included 2 pieces of bread.
Dinner was served at communal tables so it forced us to be social. We ended up sitting across from 2 guys who were traveling from the US. It was nice to be able to talk to some other travelers and speak English without having to slow down or change the words that we use.
Since many hands make light work, part of the deal with getting free dinner is that you have to wash your plate and silverware when you are finished. There was a completely full drying rack of plates and forks by the time we finished washing our dishes.
When we heard that there was a bar at the hostel we wondered if it would be more of a party hostel. We’re both into having fun, but our main goal was to get a good night of sleep since we had a night bus the night before and the night after. Fortunately, the bar served more as a happy hour place with the younger kids going out to drink where the drinks were cheaper.
While we were waiting for our dinner we partook in the 2 for 1 happy hour deal, enjoying a beer. At 60 pesos or $4.50 for 2 drinks, the price wasn’t too bad and the beers were nice and cold.
After our good dinner I had high hopes for the breakfast. When we saw the spread I was put back down to reality. Our choices included rolls with jam and butter, along with corn flakes and orange flavored beverage. That was it.
We ate our carb filled breakfast and kept thinking that when we arrive in Mendoza and have a kitchen we could cook much better breakfasts for ourselves.
I wasn’t overly surprised when the wifi didn’t work in our room and headed down to the lobby to use the wifi. It was quite possibly the slowest wifi and it dropped all the time. It made our wifi in San Pedro de Atacama look decent.
Everyone from the hostel was in the lobby using the internet, there must have been 9 or more people on their computers and phones trying to get connected, most eventually getting annoyed by the speed and leaving. I asked the front desk lady if there was an issue with the wifi and she looked at her computer before she told me no. For some stupid reason, the hostel was streaming music on YouTube which took up a ton of the bandwidth. I honestly think that people don’t understand how wifi works in some of these countries.
The shared kitchen, along with the free dinner, is shared with the hostel that is located next door. For the size of the Marcopolo Inn Hostel and another hostel sharing the relatively small kitchen made me think that it would be a bit of a stretch to cook too much in it. We have learned that true backpackers are pretty resourceful though, being able to cook some pretty good looking meals using next to nothing.
We took a taxi from the bus station to the hostel and back so location was not too important to me. We did get out the morning that we left so we could explore town a little bit and it seemed like the location was pretty good. We got down to the water pretty quickly and there were a number of shops and restaurants a few blocks away.
While the hostel wasn’t the best place that we have stayed, we got an average night of sleep and were able to shower before our bus ride to Mendoza. While I wish that both of us were able to sleep better, the tiny somewhat crappy beds didn’t make that easy. Even though the sleep wasn’t great, it was so much better than a night bus which would have been our alternative and for that we’re thankful.
The hostel had a lot of the traditional backpackers who were likely drawn to the same things I was – price and all of the amenities including 2 free meals a day. As we saw the backpackers, we realized that we will never fit in with them but we have accepted our destiny as flashpackers because we like a little comfort in our lives.
If I was going to be staying in San Carlos de Bariloche for 1 night again, I would endure a little hardship to pay very little for the accommodations that we had. If I was going to be staying for more than 1 night, I would look for something that was a little more posh.