You know you're in for a visual treat as you snake uphill to this three-star hotel perched on the precipice of a mogote (limestone hillock) with dramatic vistas across the Valle de Viñales.
Designed in neo-colonial fashion, La Ermita hotel is laid out in a kind of half-moon around spacious lawns studded with an attractive Olympic-size swimming pool. The Las Terrazas restaurant, decorated country style and serving a motley menu of continental and traditional criolla fare, overhangs the valley – a superb setting. The mood is enhanced by live troubadors. Make the most of breakfast here, but you're better off dining in the village by night.
Hotel La Ermita accommodations are in four two-story blocks with shaded porches or balconies with Adirondack chairs. Choose your room carefully, as some of the blocks are angled at ninety-degrees to the valley. A few older rooms are further back and don't have quite the same enthralling views.
Rooms are kept spic-and-spac, although at last visit they showed visible signs of aging. Ceiling fans help keep things cool, and there's air-conditioning for those who prefer. Furnishings are utlitarian – nothing fancy here – and things could be improved with better quality mattresses. But overall, rooms are comfy enough and, let's face it, unless it's raining you're going to be out exploring.
It's a 30-minute downhill hike into town, but taxis are usually on hand outside the hotel. Must-see attractions include Prehistoric Mural, Palmarito and Ancon valleys, etc.