Excellent location in downtown Puerto Ayora, within walking distance of many sights
Bright, modern rooms with nice bathrooms — some with ocean-view balconies
Small pool and sundeck where sea lions like to hang out during the day
Waterfront bar and restaurant serves lunch and dinner
Free breakfast and Wi-Fi for all guests
Hotel is awkwardly split on two sides of the street
Wi-Fi is slow (common in the Galapagos)
Smack in the middle of downtown Puerto Ayora, the mid-range Hotel Solymar is perfectly positioned for guests who want to be within walking distance of, well, everything. On top of its ideal location, Solymar has nice rooms, a small pool where sea lions like to hang out, and an on-site bar and restaurant. Plus, it offers free daily breakfast and Wi-Fi. However, the hotel is awkwardly split on two sides of the street, and some guests feel that the level of luxury and services offered don’t match the sometimes sky-high nightly rates. Nearby Hotel Pelican Bay is much cheaper and has comparable amenities, but rooms aren’t nearly as nice.
A happening hotel in the middle of downtown Puerto Ayora
Just like the street it’s located on, there’s a constant liveliness at Hotel Solymar. The ebb and flow of guests, staff members, and restaurant patrons make the hotel feel like a well-oiled machine — and an upbeat one at that. Latin music plays by the poolside, the occasional sea lion flops around on a lounge chair, and newly arriving guests are greeted with tropical drinks. The atmosphere is fun, the people are friendly, and, everyone seems to be in a good mood. Hotel Solymar welcomes all kinds of guests, but the majority are Americans, Europeans, and Ecuadorians. Steep nightly rates exclude the backpacker crowd, so it's mostly families and older couples here.
The lobby at Hotel Solymar is a small, open-air room that overlooks the pool. It feels a bit like a passageway, since people are always passing through to get to the pool, restaurant, and breakfast room, but its small front desk full of informational tourist pamphlets signifies that it is indeed the lobby.
On Avenida Charles Darwin, within walking distance of Puerto Ayora's most popular shops, bars, and restaurants
Hotel Solymar is located on Avenida Charles Darwin, that main artery that runs through the bustling town of Puerto Ayora. Solymar is within walking distance of tons of restaurants, shops, bars, and tourist attractions like the Charles Darwin Research Station. For travelers who want to have easy access to everything Puerto Ayora has to offer, this is the place to stay. While there’s no beach access here, the hotel is located on the water, and occasionally local sea lions like to make their way onto the property, whether to snooze or to hang out with guests.
Puerto Ayora is the main city on the island of Santa Cruz — the most populous island in the Galapagos with about 12,000 residents. Puerto Ayora is a busy town, with tons of lodging options, restaurants, and tourist-oriented services, but some travelers may find its gift-shop laden streets a bit inauthentic.
Santa Cruz is one of the Galapagos’ most accessible destinations. Daily flights from mainland Ecuador land on Baltra Island (GPS), a small land mass across the channel from Santa Cruz. From the airport, Puerto Ayora is about an hour -- first, a five-minute free airport bus ride to the ferry, a 10-minute ferry ride, and then a 45-minute drive (via bus or taxi). Many travelers choose to start or end their trips on Santa Cruz, due to the island’s accessibility. Some can’t-miss sights include the Charles Darwin Research Station, Tortuga Bay, Las Grietas (a 20-minute walk from the hotel), and the island’s many lava tunnels.
Rooms at Hotel Solymar are bright and modern. Large windows or sliding glass doors let in tons of natural light, which makes rooms feel open and airy. Dark furniture brings a bit of contrast to the rooms, while lime green accents add playfulness. Photographs or canvas prints of local wildlife adorn the walls, and in-room amenities include flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, electronic safes, and air-conditioning. Rooms either have two double beds, or two double beds pushed together to create a single king-size bed. Bathrooms have large showers and single sinks, but the look varies; some have modern mosaic tiles and sleek countertops, while others are bit more dated. It’s not advisable to drink the tap water anywhere in the Galapagos, so Hotel Solymar provides its guests with reusable water bottles that they can fill with purified water. The hotel has several purified water dispensers in its common areas, where guests can fill their bottles for free.
At Hotel Solymar, rooms are split between two buildings across the street from one another. One building is waterfront, while the other overlooks Avenida Charles Darwin. One major distinction between the two buildings is that rooms in the waterfront building have outdoor balconies, while those in the street-side building do not. However, street-side rooms tend to be larger and have nicer, more modern bathrooms.
Pool, on-site restaurant, free breakfast and Wi-Fi
There are several nice features at Hotel Solymar, but many guests feel that the hotel’s steep nightly rates don’t correlate with the services and amenities available here. The pool, on-site restaurant, and free breakfast and Wi-Fi are certainly welcome, but many nearby hotels — Hotel Pelican Bay, Hotel Fiesta, Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge — have comparable or nearly identical amenities, often for cheaper rates.
Solymar’s pool is the center of the property — not because it’s centrally located, but because it’s a happening spot where lots of guests like to hang out during the day. The pool is fairly small, but it has awesome ocean views and a nice hot tub. There are several lounge chairs and umbrellas, but don’t be surprised if the seats are taken up by the locals…aka the sea lions. Throughout the day, sea lions like to scale the property’s sea wall and make their way onto hotel benches and loungers. This is a fairly typical sight in the Galapagos, but it’s fun to watch fascinated visitors interact with the local wildlife. While sea lions are not inherently dangerous, it’s important to remember that they are wild creatures, not cuddly pets. Respect the sea lions and their space, and they will respect your gawking and incessant photo taking.
Adjacent to the pool is the hotel’s waterfront bar and restaurant. The open-air establishment serves lunch and dinner beneath its beautiful covered terrace. The food is average and priced for tourists. Travelers can get much better local food for much cheaper prices at many of the nearby restaurants. Free daily breakfast is served in the hotel’s breakfast room, a sunny space with beautiful ocean views. Breakfast is served buffet style, and includes eggs, pastries, fresh fruit and juice, yogurt, and cereal.
The hotel has a conference room that can be used for meetings or small events. It’s located in the street-side building, and is equipped with audio-visual equipment, chairs, and tables. It can be arranged according to guests’ preferences. Solymar offers free Wi-Fi for all guests. The Wi-Fi can be slow and spotty, but this is typical throughout the Galapagos.