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Welcome to our Hotel Tip of The Week series. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way – some are true gems, while others are absolute nightmares. We started this series together so your holidays are filled only with the gems! We have personally stayed in and tested each and every hotel we recommend.
Just as I swung my 60 liter-pack on my back after arriving in Bariloche, Argentina, the best thing ever happened. A young, bearded stranger saddled up beside us, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Are you Jess?”
I hesitated, hopeful yet unsure. Could he possibly be there to pick us up? Would we be able to avoid the stress of the take-the-long-way taxi ride or navigating the buses as fresh arrivals? Not wanting to get too excited about what would be a great relief, I responded only with a ‘Yes’.
He stuck his hand out and said with a warm smile, “I’m Juan, from Kospi, nice to meet you.”
Kospi Boutique Guesthouse had only been open for six weeks at that time, and I am sure Juan and his wife Lucia won’t have time for such a personalized pick-up service in the future. The effort, however, shows the level of customer service and genuine enthusiasm this young couple has for their new guesthouse. After completing their degrees in Buenos Aires a few years back, Juan and Lucia went traveling and ended up working for over a year and a half in luxury five-star hotels and resorts in New Zealand. They returned to Bariloche to fully renovate Juan’s grandfather’s house to open Kospi, set on Mitre, the main tourist drag, 15 minutes from the buzzing Bariloche center.
All eight rooms are en-suite, and though the space feels cramped, the beds and pillows are very comfortable and everything feels very new, which we found was offset nicely by the home’s original 50s era features like the beautiful tiles and toothbrush holders built right into the wall.
The kitchen and living room also have plenty of antique touches like old radios, retro music posters and a gorgeous flat top wood-burning stove, now converted to gas. We used the second, modern stove while in the kitchen, which is a large, open space completely equipped with everything from cutlery and crockery to a clean refrigerator, microwave and wide wooden table to cook and eat around. Lucia can often be found in the kitchen either pouring over work-related papers on her laptop or cooking up a storm.
If she offers you her homemade granola, try it – you’ll struggle to find better in South America.
A flat screen TV with hundreds of international channels, movies and excellent surround sound hangs in the living room. It is a welcoming, relaxing space to chill out, as is an upstairs nook which has a loveseat, chairs, a workspace where they’ll have a couple of computers soon set up, a budding tomato plant and views of the lake just beyond the massive Araucana tree across the street.
Stand Out Feature: Excellent Customer Service
Juan and Lucia have taken all their five-star luxury experience and re-shaped it into an attentive, comfortable home away from home feeling right here in their own home town. They both speak excellent English and gave us countless ideas for day trips, recommendations on vegetarian restaurants to try, and they weren’t shy on sharing Lucia’s homemade lemon cake with us as we all watched the Oscars together, either.
Room for Improvement: Ambience
Considering we were seeing this guesthouse so early on after its opening, there is much to be said for how little needs to be improved at all. What does need work is the follow through on the overall ambience, most likely an issue only of overeagerness. The soft jazz music playing in the mornings when Lucia served the breakfast (they trade early shifts) was wonderfully relaxing, but Juan tends to talk a lot, holding mini-lectures both during breakfast and often when guests are on their way out. In time, we’re sure he’ll relax a bit and join Lucia in hosting the party rather than trying to be the life of it, allowing guests to organically speak with each other or just enjoy the silence.
Room for Improvement: Breakfast
Not many would complain about enjoying baskets of homemade bread and cake, butter and local jams in the morning – and we’re not either! Argentinians seem fine with instant coffee, mate or tea and toast for breakfast, however, and we feel that, for room rates upwards of US$50 per night, international guests will expect something fresh: fresh-squeezed orange juice or fresh fruit. In fact, after sampling Lucia’s granola, we think granola, fruit and yogurt would be the perfect, hearty breakfast guests need for a day of hiking and outdoor adventure.
We felt right at home and were able to both work and cook comfortably here. Not only did we extend two extra nights, but so did friends to whom we had recommended Kospi. Guests of all ages and backgrounds should find it immensely easy to connect with this warm, friendly and well-traveled couple. Juan and Lucia’s combination of passion, experience and energy ensure that Kospi will continue to be one of the top accommodation choices in Bariloche.
Website: Kospi Boutique Guesthouse on Facebook
Location: Mitre 1361, San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
Price: Double rooms start at US$45.00 in low season
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes
Amenities: Breakfast included, kitchen use, living room with TV, free wifi