"Nia hotelo estis tiel granda kiel kastelo."
Translation:Our hotel was as big as a castle.
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Because they are two different things: first you have tiel + adjective to show what quality you are comparing, the second is kiel + noun to show the standard for comparison.
The question is rather, perhaps, why English uses the same word for those two different notions, and not - say - "so big like a mountain" rather than "as big as a mountain".