Six kilometers west of downtown San Rafael via RN 143 is Isla Río Diamante’s Camping El Parador (tel. 02627/42-0492, complejoelparador [at] infovia [dot] com [dot] ar, US$2 pp plus US$4 per tent). There are also cabañas sleeping up to four for US$27.
Amiable Hotel Residencial La Esperanza (Avellaneda 263, tel. 02627/42-7978, www.laesperanzaresidencial.com, US$10 pp dorm, US$21 s, US$29 d) has spacious, well-lighted garden rooms with either shared or private baths, breakfast included. The cheapest rooms are hostel dorms; it’s quiet, but some baths are small.
Opposite the cathedral, half a block off Plaza San Martín, Hotel Tonín (Pellegrini 330, tel. 02627/42-2499, www.sanrafael-tour.com/tonin, US$19 s, US$32 d) is good value with cable TV, air-conditioning, parking, and breakfast. Some beds are soft, however, and a few rooms are very dark.
It’s right on the main drag, but the slightly worn Hotel Cerro Nevado (Avenida Hipólito Yrigoyen 378, tel. 02627/42-3993, www.cerronevadohotel.com.ar, US$36 d) is surprisingly quiet as well as tidy and friendly. In the aging plumbing, the hot water is slow to arrive, but the water pressure is steady.
Although it’s on a busy street, the spotless rooms at Hotel Jardín (Avenida Hipólito Yrigoyen 283, tel. 02627/43-4621, www.hoteljardinhotel.com.ar, US$30 s, US$50 d) are quiet—nearly silent, really—because of the Mediterranean-garden setback. The pseudoclassical statuary, though, is a kitschy distraction.
Rising 10 stories above low-rise San Rafael, new in 2001, the 97-room Tower Inn & Suites (Avenida Hipólito Yrigoyen 774, tel. 02627/42-7190, www.towersanrafael.com, US$96 s, US$108 d) is, ironically, a hotel with a history. The province’s tallest hotel until recently, its white-elephant skeleton stood empty 35 years before opening. Maybe the results weren’t worth the wait, but they’re good enough to make it the city’s best.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition