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The Galápagos Islands Hotels

There has been a hotel boom in Galapagos in recent years, and for better or for worse, new places have been popping up like mushrooms on a fallen log. Some of these places are quite nice, whereas others…well, you get the idea.

Okay, picture this in your mind’s eye. A square room, about fifteen feet (five meters) across. Wall off one corner, roughly 30% of the total space of the room. Inside this area, put a new, tiled bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. In the main room, put in three single beds, wherever they will fit. There is a small, dusty TV bolted to a platform, plugged in and connected to a cable. There is one small refrigerator.  A hole has been cut in the wall near the door, and there is a battered air conditioner there. One lone print hangs in a frame: it’s of something nautical, but you forget what it is –a ship, maybe – as soon as you look away.

Got it? Congratulations! You’ve just imagined about 80% of the available rooms in Galapagos. Some won’t have cable, some will have a double bed instead of two or three singles, and some will have a small piece of ugly furniture like a dresser or night table, but they’re all essentially the same. This room will cost you approximately $25/night in any of the three towns in Galapagos.

The reason is this: most of the hotels in Galapagos are owned by old-time Island families who have built them on their family land in town. Many hotels are literally in someone’s backyard. It’s a good business for them, because mainland and foreign competitors are no longer allowed to build or operate hotels in the islands. These families are not very creative and don’t care much about return business, so there’s little reason for them to make the rooms memorable. They also stuff as many beds as they can into the rooms, so they can make more money, but don’t worry: you’ll still only pay for a double if you have two people in a room with three beds.

Naturally, some families take their business as hoteliers more seriously than others, and some of these rooms are not too bad and not unreasonably priced. I have indicated the better ones in their respective write-ups.

Your options tend to be on either price side of the $20-30 range. If you stay at one of the $10/night places, the rooms will have plenty of character, such as stained sheets, doors falling off the hinges and creepy-crawly guests. If you have a little more money to spend, you can get a very nice, breezy room that is tastefully decorated and comfortable for as little as $60 per night. If you really want to go crazy, there are a couple of hotels in the over $200/night range which have every modern convenience and are extremely well-done and classy.

Feel free to bargain with the hotels: their prices are most definitely not set in stone. If you’re with a group or if you’re staying more than one night it’s often possible to wheel and deal a little. Suggest prices that are about 20% discounted and see if they go for it, or simply ask “descuento?” Often that’s enough to do the trick. Low tourism season is also a good time to get a deal.

Air conditioning is much more important in the warm season (December-April). The rest of the year, it’s quite cool, and a fan should suffice.

Many hotels (particularly on San Cristobal) advertize “agua caliente” or hot water, but they’re referring to the sub-lethal “ducha electrica” or “electric showers” which consist of a heating unit where the shower head should be (picture a cross between a shower head and a toaster, and plug it in). They’re not dangerous and do provide tepidly warm water, but they’re far from “hot water” as most visitors would define it.

Check out Viva’s online reviews for photos of many of these places as well as user reviews and links before picking the right place for you!

Other Hotel pages in The Galápagos Islands that may be of interest: Puerto Villamil Hotels, Around Puerto Villamil Lodging, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno Hotels, San Cristobal Hotels, Isabela Hotels, Santa Cruz Hotels and Puerto Ayora Hotels.

24 Sep 2010

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