Step off the plane at La Paz airport and you’re in the hot heart of a dusty western… the surrounding landscape is desert and in summer the streets of the town are deserted and the sun beats mercilessly down on the cowering buildings. But just off the Avenida Independencia is a heavenly haven from this scorching setting: El Angel Azul (The Blue Angel). Discernible only by a blue sign and door set in bleached white walls, this stylish B&B was a former courthouse that had lain empty for 20 years.
Scrupulously restored by the current owner, Swiss-born Esther Ammann, the atmosphere is tranquil and relaxed, with rooms facing the cacti-filled courtyard under shaded colonnades. With shrines, sculptures, paintings, even an ensenada(clay ‘day of the dead’ skeleton) dotted about the garden, it feels more like staying in the villa of an arty friend. Esther has turned a shell into a local landmark and is definitely a cool host who know hows to stay cool in a hot town.