Hostels of Paraguay

Hostels are only just beginning to catch on in Paraguay – as of this writing there are only a handful in the country. However, family run hotels and hospedajes are often willing to allow travelers access to a kitchen while providing perks such as private rooms with bathrooms.

How to Take a Hot Shower

Most Paraguayan bathrooms in areas with running water have an electrical showerhead called a “calefon. ” Water is heated by an electrical element in the showerhead before being dispersed into droplets. Temperature is regulated by the water flow – more water pressure will decrease the temperature of the water and vice-versa. Tourists may find this contraption involving water and electricity alarming, especially because the electrical wiring is clearly visible in most calefon installations. Avoid receiving a slight shock by shutting off the calefon’s power before making any adjustments to the showerhead. The interrupter switch for the calefon is usually a red and black light switch. Despite the fear-factor, calefons do have one main benefit: you will never run out of hot water. If your hotel room appears to have a water heater tank rather than a calefon, be sure to switch it on at night in order to have hot water for a morning shower.

Hotels

With the exception of Asuncion, Ciudad del Este and Encarnacion, the majority of the country’s hotels are small, family run affairs. There are very few international chain hotels in Paraguay. Higher-end travelers should note that Paraguay’s hotel industry does not conform to the international star ratings system. Breakfasts are usually included and consist of coffee, cocido (see Mate Cocido Quemado), and toast, though establishments with Brazilian or German ownership often offer a more substantial breakfast spread. Many hotels have both rooms with air conditioning units (with heating options in the winter) and cheaper rooms with fans. These options are noted where applicable. Unless otherwise noted, all hotels listed in this book have private bathrooms and include breakfast. Charges are usually per person, not per room Sometimes, there is a slight price difference between a double room with two twin beds (doble) and a double room with a queen size bed (doble matrimonial). It is not unusual for hotels to have triples, quadruples, and even quintuple rooms to accommodate families or groups, especially in popular vacation areas such as Colonia Independencia, Villa Florida, and Ciudad del Este.

Bedding

While most high-end hotels have spring mattresses known as a sommier,  the majority of beds in low and mid-range hotels use a foam mattress known as a colchon.  These can range from firm to extremely squishy. Placing a fully inflated ground pad underneath a sagging colchon mattress for extra support can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and an achy back (be sure to remember your ground pad upon departure). Long-term visitors, such as Peace Corps Volunteers, should consider making the upfront investment of buying a sommier  style mattress – cheaper models run about Gs. 400,000 in Asuncion and more in the countryside. The extra expense may be worth it, especially if you have back problems.

Alternative Housing

There are a variety of websites dedicated to connecting travelers with locals. These can come especially in handy in Paraguay where having local friends and contacts can more than make up for the lack of official tourism infrastructure. They offer a good way of getting to know Paraguayans on a more social level. For many visitors, social interactions with Paraguayans in the form of terere circles, visits to the countryside, and Sunday asados are the highlights of their time in Paraguay.

Couch Surfing Locals sign up through this website, listing what type of hosting situation they are offering – from a place for visitors to stay to simple willingness to meet up with travelers and grab a bite to eat. This is an especially good option for vegetarians who will have a better time with kitchen access. Offering to cook for your host is a good way to take your meals into your own hands. A number of Paraguayans are signed up in urban areas. In rural areas foreigners such as Peace Corps Volunteers and other aid workers predominate. Travelers should not be discouraged by the lack of Paraguayan hosts though. A foreign host can be helpful, as their time in country and language skills (Guaram or Spanish) allow them to act as a link to, and interpreter of, Paraguayan culture. www-couchsurfing.com

Localyte Many Paraguayans are signed up on Localyte as willing to meet for a meal or coffee -these social encounters can be your ticket to getting linked into a network. In Paraguay everything works via word of mouth, and knowing locals will get you places and information that you would not have access to otherwise. www.localyte.com

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