Whether you stay on Argentina’s side of the cascades, or Brazil’s, you’ll fall for its selection of waterside and jungle-hidden hotels.
In Tupí-Guaraní legend, beautiful Naipí flees with her human lover rather than marry a deity. In anger, the deity cleaves the Iguazú River between Brazil and Argentina in two, creating the country-straddling cascades that now form one of the world’s mightiest waterfalls. The tumultuous, tumbling waters here certainly look otherworldly, and with numerous activities on offer in the water and the surrounding rainforest, visitors are frequently waylaid for days. The area’s places to stay are also legendary – read on for our picks of hotels in Iguazú Falls’ vicinity, bookable on Culture Trip.
The Argentine side’s Gran Meliá Iguazú gets as up close and personal to Iguazú Falls as you can. You’ll hear the thunder of plunging water from your room in this upscale residence (and see it if you’re lucky). Argentina’s only lodging within waterfall-viewing distance maximises the plunging vistas: whether that’s the spotless, light, pared-down rooms or cocktail-sipping on the rooftop terrace. Even the infinity pool seems to be merging straight into (can you guess?) those amazing cascades.
This upscale Awasi retreat does a lot of things right. Its location near a bend of the Iguazú River is idyllic and concentrates hard on aesthetics with its luxury take on the painted clapboard style of many houses hereabouts. But perhaps the most innovative element here is that each of the 14 villas are assigned a separate private guide and vehicle – a hallmark of the Awasi group, whose South American hotels span from Patagonia all the way up to the Atacama – meaning each guest can experience the waterfalls and surrounding scenery in the way that they really want.
This offering in the city centre of Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side of the waterfalls hardly shouts world-class waterfalls or jungle, but the quality in this towering, white, glass-ended edifice is high and the location next to the bus station for transport to the falls is useful. There’s a games room, small pool, gym and a varied selection of tours, including nighttime reconnaissance of the falls.
On the aptly named Avenida de Cataratas in Brazil’s fall-side city Foz do Iguaçu, the 170-room Vivaz Cataratas Hotel impresses with its grounds spread out around a striking circular pool and broad tree-studded terrace. Rooms and suites are contemporary and vibrantly jungle-decorated, many of which have floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and facilities elsewhere include a spa, tennis court, mini golf course and even its own mini eco-trails.
This distinctive option on the Argentine side offers rooms decked in smart beige and mustard tones, plus intriguingly unusual wooden sinks in the bathrooms. But Selvaje Lodge’s biggest asset is its long, lovely rectangular pool, backed by uncomplicated but aesthetically pleasing dining and common areas. Smaller touches, such as bath products concocted with yerba-maté, the Argentine hot beverage, do not go unnoticed, either. A short walk away is a bird observation area.
For a chic riverside getaway, few addresses on the Argentine side rival dashing Los Suites Iguazú, from the company who pioneered the apartment hotel concept in Argentina. Even entry-level rooms are large with seating areas, fridges, bathrooms with tubs and, often, 4.5m (15ft) jungle terraces. Public areas are just divine: jungle ferns press around the spa area and the forest-dappled quartet of outdoor pools is a soothing antidote to frenetic fall activities.
A charming, character-rich alternative to the bigger hotels is this tranquil spot in central Puerto Iguazú on the Argentine side of the falls. Bedazzling green jungle foliage bristles around the property, created by an experimental photographer and plant-and-animal behavior specialist, whose dedication to preserving the area’s fantastic nature shines through. Peaceful wood-floored rooms lead onto dreamy terraces. Guests gather on the open-sided deck at tables hewn from rainforest trunks for mealtimes and attentive staff prettify the package.
Hotels in Iguazú Falls’ immediate range are ideal, but you needn’t stay too close. Although this hotel is one of the farthest from the falls and river on the Argentine side, it makes for great pre- and post-falls visits, with a triumvirate of outdoor pools, a spa and lush gardens running into a private area of rainforest, which yields some good bird and animal sightings. Rooms are all over 30sqm (323sqft) too, with jacuzzi tubs and minibars.