Breaking Travel News investigates: Hotel Europa, La Paz
Not an easy city to visit, La Paz.
The commercial capital of Bolivia, its sits high in the Andes, with points touching 4,000 metres above sea level.
This means altitude sickness can be a real problem for European travellers, with headaches common for the first few days.
Guests are urged to walk slowly, drink coca tea and take it easy – no mean feat in the hubbub of the bustling downtown.
Twinned with El Alto, a sprawling conurbation even higher in the mountains, La Paz is home to nearly two million people.
Its roads are a patchwork of congested highways and winding side-streets; it would take a lifetime to truly know where you are going.
But, that is not to say it is without its charms – take the cable car high over the city below and you will be rewarded with astonishing views over the mountains.
When the moon rises it is a truly beautiful sight, making it possible to forget the frenetic city below for a few moments – not bad for three bolivars a ticket.
But, given the challenges of city life, you can imagine my relief when I arrive at Hotel Europa.
Bolivia remains very much a backpacker destination for most travellers, with just 1.2 million international guests arriving in 2018.
Business travel is not high on the agenda for most visitors, and the accommodation reflects this.
Hotel Europe – a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts - is one of the few exceptions, a beacon of quality hospitality in a still developing market.
I was in town to visit Lake Titicaca and had an evening spare before departure – what better place to while away the hours?
Walking through the front door, guests are greeted by a verdant tropical garden – a world away from the grime and commotion on the streets outside.
For my sins I don’t speak Spanish, so a check-in carried out in English was a welcome surprise, and within moments I was in the lift heading upward.
The 110 rooms are spacious, well-kept and have everything you would expect – huge flat-screen televisions, mini bar, spotless bathroom and an inviting bed.
This being winter in the southern hemisphere, heating is also essential, and Hotel Europa does not disappoint – cranking up the dial it is toasty warm in moments.
Overlooking the dramatic, snow-capped Illimani Mountain, the views are also an added bonus.
With time to explore, I headed downstairs.
On the first floor, parallel with reception, Finn Club offers a sumptuous spa, two types of sauna and a heated indoor swimming pool.
There is also a chance to experience the Turkish bath, a great place to relax away from the city outside.
More my pace, the sleek wood-and-leather top-floor bar, Euro Lounge, offers cocktails based on singani, a traditional Bolivian tipple.
Distilled from white Muscat of Alexandria grapes, the spirit is produced only in the Bolivian high-valleys and is considered the national liquor.
Tasting like a perfumed brandy, it is remarkably drinkable and highly recommended for an authentic experience.
For something to eat, guests have a choice of two eateries.
I took the chance to load up on queso, garnished with regional huacatay, at the Tempora restaurant.
With a big day ahead and a stomach full of singani, I opted for an early night.
Rising at 04:00, I was delighted to find the buffet breakfast already open.
A few weary travellers share my tired glances as they prepare for their adventures ahead and I tuck into fruit, cereal and the ever-present coca tea.
After breakfast I headed for the mountains, but there are other options for the curious traveller.
Thanks to its central location, the hotel is within walking distance of many attractions and amenities.
These include the most important international banks and corporate offices in La Paz, as well as the colonial churches, street markets and museums.
Who not start with a journey to discover the Tiahuanaco artefacts at the National Museum of Archaeology, right next door?
Rates at Hotel Europa, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, start from £60 per room per night.
For further information or to book, visit the official website.
To find out more about visiting Bolivia, take a look at the official website here.