Hostería El Recreo is an absolutely lovely family-owned boutique bed-and-breakfast in Bolivia's capital city of Sucre. The hostería is built into a hillside overlooking a river, neighboring Sucre's famous Castillo de la Glorieta, which was once home to the only prince and princess in Bolivia's history. Guests enjoy a privileged view of the surrounding hills from rooms high above the trees and gardens, through breezy wall-to-wall windows that run along the length and sides of all suites, as well as the open dining and living areas.
Aside from its proximity (walking distance) to one of the most famous tourist attractions in Sucre, what makes Hostería El Recreo truly special is the family that owns it. Fernando and Monica have made it their mission to make someone's dream come true. Fernando's father, who for years worked to ensure the Castillo de la Glorieta
would be restored to its former glory, purchased the property neighboring the castle with the intention of creating a place where visitors could enjoy a walk through history during their stay. He bought and collected hundreds of antiques and antique furniture pieces, many of which belonged to the prince and princess themselves. His dream was to keep their bitter-sweet story, and the history of Sucre, alive by allowing guests to experience it in a very real and personal way. He passed away before he was able to fulfill this dream. Encouraged by Monica, Fernando (who knows every inch of the castle, and absorbed an incredible wealth of knowledge about the city's history) is now bringing his father's dream to fruition.
At Hostería El Recreo, you'll go back in time as you rest, dine and walk among hundreds of antique pieces placed throughout the suites, hallways, and property. Hostería El Recreo is like a living museum. Fernando and Mónica can not only tell you the history of the region, they'll share anecdotes about the city's oldest families, including their own. You'll gain some insight into the early life of Bolivia's first city first-hand. Fer's grandmother often played at the castle (ask him to tell you what happened the day she was served dinner in the princess' bedroom. Uh-oh.) One of his grandfathers was the president of Bolivia, his grandmother's house is now the Gutiérrez Valenzuela museum on the corner of the city's central plaza. Are you getting the picture? The way Fernando and Mónica relate their family stories, tying them in with a tour of the house and a visit to their antique collection, will make the history of Sucre come alive for you. (Shivers went down my spine when I discovered and held a Spanish medallion dated 1643, and by the way did you know the prince almost married his wife's sister first? Her older sister turned him down because she thought he was ugly - but you won't learn that in a museum!)
Hostería El Recreo is a one-acre property bordering a riverbank. The guest suites are part of an original house built in terraced fashion into a cliff. The Suite of the Marchioness (Suite de la Marquesa) is a full apartment fit for royalty with an antique canopy bed, a huge bathroom complete with a jacuzzi, an ample living area, a fireplace, and its own kitchen. The suite overhangs and shelters an outdoor seating area below it fittingly called El Refugio (the refuge) and is situated next to a beautiful pool and fountain. The Suite of the Duke (Suite del Duque) has a queen-sized bed and the highest, most complete view of your surroundings. Between the two there is a long living and dining area, all overlooking the river and the surrounding woody hills. The property is located directly across the river from the ruins of what used to be an orphanage where all 60 children the prince and princess adopted used to live. Almost all sides of each suite are covered in windows at treetop level or higher.
Hostería El Recreo is the perfect place to stay in Sucre. It's just minutes from town but you'll enjoy ample space, peace and quiet, lots of fresh air and light. If you have children they will have plenty of room to play in the gardens and playground. (Fer and Mónica have two children, both of whom are well behaved and excellent hosts. 14-year old Sebastian is particularly mature and can rattle off the history of the region almost as well as Fernando. 6-year old Camila is the hostería's entertainment director.) Their two dogs, Dux and Do, are friendly and harmless and the ducks will have you laughing as they chase each other around the grass.
Getting to town is easy. You can catch a ride with Monica and Fernando (just let them know in advance what time you want to leave), or walk 10 minutes to the nearby military academy (the entrance to Castillo de la Glorieta) where you'll catch the number 4 micro (city bus), or simply call a taxi to come pick you up. Either way, you're just on the edge of town and only minutes from the city center.
At Hostería El Recreo, Fer and Monica make you feel like you're a part of the family. They'll pick you up at the airport if you need them to, and they live on the property so they're available for anything else you need. When I stay they go beyond the call of duty. Guests are even welcome to cook for themselves in the hostería's kitchen (the larger suite has its own kitchen). El Recreo has its own vegetable garden during the spring and summer. The suites have mini-bars and TVs. Breakfast is included in the price but you can also order a home-cooked lunch and dinner from their menu if you decide you're too happy there to go into town, or too lazy to cook your own. You'll have internet access and they offer laundry and ironing services too.
Staying at Hostería El Recreo is a singular experience. By the time you leave, you'll have become a part of life in Sucre and you'll no longer feel like an outsider looking in. You're family now. Hostería El Recreo allows you to be so much freer and more comfortable than at a downtown hotel. It's a large, airy property with numerous interesting levels and seating areas. You're very close to town but far enough out to enjoy complete peace and quiet. At night the sky is black and silent. You'll sleep soundly. The gardens and surrounding area are beautiful and serene. You can hear the wind rustling through the trees and the river and fountains bubbling nearby. One of the most spectacular features is the abundance of windows that enables you to feel a part of your surroundings even if you stay indoors. At Hostería El Recreo nature reaches in to you.
Hostería El Recreo. Owners: Fernando Linale Urriolagoitia, Monica Ballivián Linale. Location: Km. 6 ½ Carretera a Yotala. Phone: (591-4) 645-1517. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.hosteriaelrecreo.com