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Izhcayluma Hosteria and Spa, Vilcabamba, Ecuador
$10 for a dorm; $25-45 for a double
In a nutshell…
In their spot-on words “the luxury of a resort priced for backpackers”. It’s an affordable spa hotel that doesn’t cut corners on style or quality – and the views are incredible. It’s one of our favourite places we’ve stayed.
Izhcayluma is a 5-minute, $1.50 taxi-ride up the hill from Vilcabamba town.The view across the valley is stunning, especially from the restaurant area, which affords some incredible sunsets. Pretty much everything you need can be found on-site so it’s the perfect place to simply unwind and relax.
There are three types of accommodation: private rooms, cabanas and dorms. They’re all dotted around the site in clusters, which makes it feel a little more secluded. We stayed in a private double room with a terrace area and hammock. Natural stone and white walls give it an organic feel, and all is tastefully decorated. Our favourite part was the huge stone shower, which looks and feels like an instant dose of luxury.
The staff and owners are wonderfully friendly and laid-back, as is to be expected in hippy Vilcabamba. We especially enjoyed seeing one of the owners quietly enjoying a wine as he watched the sunset. He seemed to embody the hosteria’s vibe.
Yes. One of the owners is vegetarian and has made an effort to make the menu as veg-friendly as possible. The highlight is the homemade tempeh, which is the best we’ve ever tasted. You can order nearly any main dish, such as stronganoff or peppered steak, with tempeh in place of meat. We went back a number of times after our stay there, just to visit the restaurant. Breakfast is also great with eggs or pancakes cooked to order, as well as toast, fruit, juice and yoghurt. And don’t miss the $1 raw-chocolate truffles on the counter – healthy and supremely delicious. We had one every day.
You could easily stay at Izhcayluma for a week and barely leave. There’s a swimming pool, giant chess, board games, pool table, table tennis, fire pit, yoga lessons and weekly film night. The bar is open from 7pm every night apart from Sundays and is a great place to chill out on the hammocks or swings. By day, you can rent movies and watch them in the bar.
They also provide hiking maps, which one of the owners has mapped out and sign-posted himself. Horse-riding can also be arranged.
And of course, there’s the spa, which happily surpassed our expectations with its professional luxury. Massages, facials, body scrubs, reiki and manicures are all on offer and the spa itself is a gorgeous and peaceful sanctuary. I had a facial, body scrub, massage and reiki, which all come recommended.
What could be improved
This isn’t their fault but the Ecuadorian Government don’t allow alcohol to be served on Sunday evenings – a little crushing when you’re on holiday and have been looking forward to a glass of wine. Get around this by buying ahead of time.
Also, if going into Vilcabamba in the evening, be aware that taxis are hard to come by past around 10pm. Ask ahead at Izhcayluma for a phone number or advice on where to find one.
The towel test
Fitting in with the luxury theme, they did indeed provide a towel – and branded soap and shampoo.
Good for digital nomads?
Free wi-fi and gorgeous views make this an awesome spot for digital nomads. It’s not the fastest connection so Skype can be a little rickety, but it’s enough for all the basics.
Disclosure: we were invited to stay at Izhcayluma for three nights but liked it so much we went back at our own expense a few weeks later. Thanks to Raik for inviting us. As always, all opinion are very much our own.