Popular belief has it that Eden Hotel was a “Nazi hotel”. Nestled in the hills of La Falda in central Argentina, this hotel has captured the feverish imagination of many who believe that Hitler himself might have been a guest. He was most definitely nowhere near this place, nor was this hotel founded by the Nazi. The confusion arises from the political beliefs of the last owners, Mr. and Mrs. Eichhorn, who were indeed Nazi sympathizers.
Let’s go back in time to the year 1897. Three Germans, Mr. Bahlcke, Mr. Kurth and Mrs Kreautner, partnered to build a hotel in Cordoba. In the pre-antibiotics era, tuberculosis instilled the fear of God in people. Doctors prescribed fresh mountain air and Cordoba’s hills became a favourite destination with doctors and patients, as well as those who wanted to escape contagion. Pure mountain air was one of the main draws of Eden Hotel.
The idea of Bahlcke, Kurth and Kreautner was to found a hotel-estancia, a country hotel for the wealthy, although it was not luxurious. The first passengers arrived on December 26, 1898. Despite a rocky financial situation, the hotel prospered. Affluent families, mainly from Buenos Aires, and families of German descent spent the summer season here. They sent their servants ahead in carriages with their luggage and they travelled by train. The servants had their own wing, where men and women had separate rooms.
Guests had many activities to choose from: horse-riding, golf, picnics, tennis, hunting, swimming, polo, pato (Argentina’s national sport). The less physically inclined played card games, billiards, chess and enjoyed cigars and a book in the library. Concerts under the stars and balls kept guests busy at night. It was all very civilized.
Yet the worry about tuberculosis was constant. If someone noticed that a guest coughed often, he or she was put under supervision or even sent to the local sanatorium. Everyone carried white handkerchiefs. Why? To show that they didn’t cough up blood, a surefire sign that they were tainted.
In 1912, Messrs. Eichhorn acquired Eden Hotel and surrounding land. In order to pay the mortgage, the new owners applied for permission to partition some of the land. Slowly but surely, the town of La Falda began to grow around the hotel.
Although Argentina remained neutral throughout World War II, the country declared war on the Axis a few weeks before the end. The Eichhorns were known Nazi supporters. They even sent money for Hitler’s campaign and had their photo taken with him. In 1947, the then president Perón reverted ownership of the hotel to the original owners, who then sell it on. This marked the beginning of the decline until the hotel closed down for good in 1965. After the war, the wealthy went back to spending long seasons in Europe and the beach resorts became very popular, which meant less trade for the hotel and its consequent decline.
The beautiful buildings and park suffered neglect and vandalism until the local government declared it a historic site. They are rebuilding it slowly but it’s expensive. The sources of income are the renovated manager’s house, 200 yards from the main hotel, which reopened as an inn; the rent from the grounds for concerts; and the fees from the guided visits.
Avenida Eden 1400, La Falda, Córdoba
Tel: (03548) 421080 – 426643 / Cel: (03548) 15630627 – 15630636
Guided visits (in Spanish only): daily between 9am to 7pm
Adults: AR$50 each, under 10s don’t pay.