Hotel Kapenke is in the centre of Calafate, number 112 on 9 de julio street, one street back from the main street, Avenida del Libertador de San Martin. It doesn’t immediately catch your eye, but what I think you do notice is the Carmela restaurant doors one side of it, which look too close to be a separate venue. That’s because it’s not, this is Kapenke’s lovely modern restaurant with cream leather chairs and cabinets filled with red wine. They serve delicious meals, from cordero asado, steak and a range of seafood options. It’s popular with locals and tourists, and later in the evening I even noticed a member of staff on their day off eating there with friends! Also, if you arrive really late to the hotel, so long as they know in advance, they can prepare a meal for you, even if it’s at 11:30pm.
I was greeted by the recepcionist who told me that breakfast was from 6:30 until 10 and gave me the password for Wifi which was available throughout the hotel. The lobby and bar were spacious, someone was watching football in the background and it looked like quite a pleasant place to sit if you wanted to. I was shown around the hotel which had two floors with 46 rooms in total, each complete with television and English speaking TV, a safe and en suite. They all seemed clean and comfortable, with a basic green decor throughout. So far I was impressed. I took a little walk round the hotel and saw that they had a garden area with a few benches where you could sit and read or just contemplate, a nice touch and useful if you’re a smoker. The hotel also provides lunch boxes with sandwiches, biscuits and fruit if you’re going on an excursion the next day. Not many people were, but it could be good if you plan to visit Perito Moreno and don’t want to have a big lunch.
Talking of big lunches, that evening I ate at Carmela and had a big meal. From the list of fresh crab, langostines and salmon, I opted for the crab souffle which came in a big ceramic dish. It was definitely a good option but was really too much after eating too much delicious bread with blue cheese dip (an obligatory starter in this part of the world). Breakfast this morning was lovely too. After enjoying a good night’s sleep in the slightly over warm room (I turned the radiator off in my sleep), I woke early to get my bus to Puerto Natales at 8:30 and went down to the restaurant for breakfast. The typical Argentinian breakfast buffet was on display but I was pleased to see that this one had more choice than usual – scotch pancakes with a vast choice of fillings including dulce de leche, chocolate, honey and jelly, pastries, muffins, toast, yoghurt, fruit salad, tea, coffee and jugo (squash). This hotel wasn’t flash, it didn’t have a jacuzzi or sauna (because as Miguel, the owner was telling me, people wouldn’t really have time to use it) and it was perhaps lacking in a bit of Patagonian authenticity, it was nevertheless really comfortable, a stones throw from the bus station and provided a warm place to stay with reasonably priced food. What more could you want?
I’m off now to stay in the boutique Hotel indigo in Puerto Natales, said to be the best in town. More updates soon.