If you’re going to Esteli, Nicaragua, it’s probably for the cigars. The town is charming, if a bit rundown, but it’s proximity to the fields and factories of some of the world’s premier cigar manufacturers is undoubtedly the main attraction. So, be reasonable in your expectations when choosing a hotel. I spent three nights at Hotel Los Arcos on a visit to the Pepin Garcia cigar operation, and don’t have any complaints. It isn’t a luxury property (and doesn’t bill itself as such), but you will be clean and comfortable during your stay.
Hotel Los Arcos is one of the few hotels I’ve visited in the past few years that actually use keys – real metal keys. Turn it to enter your room, and the experience will vary. Some rooms have two single beds, while others deliver two full-sized. There are a handful of suites with balconies and a bit of extra elbow room, though no guestroom is cramped. The beds and bathrooms are clean but worn, though both would seem better with a bit more of an effort to decorate.
%Gallery-84834%If you’re accustomed to amenities, brace yourself. The rooms do have desks and televisions, but alarm clocks and phones are absent. Also, the desks aren’t near any power outlets. The lack of internet access will drive business travelers to the brink of insanity. There is a faint wireless signal, I was told, but you’ll only find it in a few places (the restaurant is a hotspot). The only alternative is to use one of the two ancient desktops at the top of the stairs to the second floor. They are slow (and in Spanish), so it may take you a moment to adapt.
The bar can get lively, depending on how many people are staying at the hotel, and there is sufficient variety on the shelves. Grab a drink to take with you to your table, however, as you’ll be waiting for a while. The service is in line with the norm in Nicaragua, but guests used to life at a faster pace may become frustrated. Meal quality varies. Breakfast, which consists of a small buffet, is a bit disappointing – far variety, presentation and taste. Dinner is much better, though guests should not expect culinary masterpieces.
Where Hotel Los Arcos succeeds is in its outdoor spaces. A courtyard adorned with a colorful mural offers plenty of seating, and there’s more on the roof, which offers views of Esteli and the mountains beyond it. If you’re traveling with a group, this is a plus, since you’ll have places where you can gather and hang out for a while. Also, I’m told the laundry service does a great job.
Hotel Los Arcos gets the job done. You’ll be clean and comfortable, and the accommodations are better than you’ll find at many of the places you’ll drive by n route. For cigar trips especially, you can’ go wrong with Los Arcos.