Guatemala Travel Guide

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If a Hotel with Cold Water Can Have Free WiFi...

Where: Zacapa, Guatemala
February 4, 2009 at 10:27 AM | by | Comments (0)

As we all know, the hotel world comes stocked with contradictions. Case in point: In the decidedly non-tourist town of Zacapa, Guatemala, exists a bare-bones bedpost called Hotel Torre Fuerte, where we stayed recently.

A few, uh, highlights: icy cold water spouting from the shower; a golf-ball-size hole on one wall (leading to lord only knows where!); a thin mattress dressed in thinner sheets. Oh yeah, and free wireless Internet.

Before we comment on the absurdity of a place that lacks hot water but provides the common courtesy of free WiFi, we should mention that Torre Fuerte must be doing pretty well, because they’re building a new addition (rumored to have hot water!). But like many hotels under construction, that’s still in the works — like, no roof or walls on half the building in the works, with laborers hammering sun-up to sundown.

So let’s recap. We have a hotel that’s part-finished, part cinder block, with cold water (seriously, did we mention how cold the showers were?!). Double rooms cost roughly $23. AND THEY STILL OFFERED FREE WIFI. Though we didn’t have our laptops with us — so we can’t give a decent appraisal on the quality of the service — we can affirm that we spied other guests watching videos on YouTube without hiccups.

If that’s not the best incentive for all hotels to offer free WiFi, we don’t know what is. Seriously, people, even third-world Guatemala has you beat.

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This Funky-Looking Westin Hotel Still Looks Like a Westin on the Inside

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Avenida La Reforma, Guatemala City, Guatemala, 01010
October 8, 2008 at 9:47 AM | by | Comments (0)

Despite the disco lights and bizarre façade, this hotel is not located on the Vegas strip, but instead, in Guatemala City. It's the Westin Camino Real and from what we can tell, the funky facade has not changed the snoozy Westin brand inside, which is still, same as ever.

Thanks to Tom Barnes who dropped this pic in the HotelChatter Flickr Pool, we see that the hotel is quite cool-looking when it's lit up on the outside at night. Inside, however, is not as exciting. The hotel has the requisite Heavenly Bed and Bath in their 271 rooms, along with WestinWorkOut goodies and an overly opulent design that could only have been inspired by the `80s TV series Dynasty.

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Room with a Killer View: Video of Casa del Mundo in Guatemala

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Lago de Atitlan, Jaibalito, Guatemala
June 15, 2007 at 12:07 PM | by | Comments (0)

We are suckers for a room with a killer view.  We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.

No matter how many hotels we've stayed in, we still get blown away by a great panoramic view. And as great views go, it's hard to top this one from La Casa del Mundo.

The hotel clings to a steep hillside on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, so spend some time on the Stairmaster before coming. The climb is worth it though, with this view from Room 1 being a screaming bargain at only $60 a night. If you get too hot from all the step climbing, put on your bathing suit and dive in the refreshing lake from one of the hotel's platforms.

The view from this room is one of the best, but almost all of them have an equally impressive vista. Enjoy the serenity and leave your workaholic self at home - there's no Internet access from this heavenly location.

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Killer View :: Francis Ford Coppola's La Lancha

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Lake Peten, Itza, Tikal, Guatemala
June 7, 2007 at 10:02 AM | by | Comments (0)

We are suckers for a room with a killer view.  We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.

[Ed. Note: HotelChatter contributing editor Tim Leffel reports from Guatemala.]

SEE THE KILLER VIEW

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San Pedro's Hotel Peneleu Has Blue Sky

April 20, 2007 at 11:07 AM | by | Comments (2)


View From Hotel Peneleu

OK, usually we shun the hostel, however, over on Jaunted, Claire Duffett brought the Guatemala's Hotel Peneleu to our attention. When she told us it was "by far the strangest and most beautiful" place she stayed in Guatamela, we paid attention. But when she showed us her hotel view photos we invited her in to tell everybody her hotel story. You know we are always suckers for a good view. Enjoy.

San Pedro La Laguna, a rural village on the shore of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan, feels a bit like Neverland, complete with a tree house-like refuge. Those living inside hide from pressures to conform — imagined and otherwise — and sink into a state of permanent indulgence.

Hotel Peneleu, built atop the foothills of Volcan San Pedro, houses long-term visitors in its stucco turquoise rooms. By requesting a guide from the hagglers who loiter near the town’s main dock, travelers can find the hidden hostel around the corner from a chicken coop, behind a coffee farm.

The character of Peneleu’s clientele matches the outlandish color of the hostel’s walls. A Japanese girl, dressed in a once-white Christening gown now the color of slate, greets newcomers as they bargain with the owner for a night's stay, usually about $2.50. The self-proclaimed gatekeeper strokes the broken wing of her pet baby bird and sizes up her new neighbors with a litany of questions: “Where are you from? How long are you here? Do you like my bird?”

Lonnie, who lives beside the communal porch, left his jobs as a medicinal marijuana grower and part-time truck driver to travel the world spreading the truth about the inside Sept. 11 job. Once the aliens returned him to the New Mexican desert in the late 1960s, he gave up acid and fled the conspiracy-riddled United States in search of like-minded skeptics. The expatriate citizenry of San Pedro suits him well.

The drug culture in the town lends the place a laid-back, no-judgments air to which Bohemians flock. Yet the beauty of the landscape and the humility of the inhabitants save San Pedro from the depravity to which most hedonistic towns sink. Many evangelical Christian families, mostly Tz'utujil-speaking Mayans, live on the outskirts of town. Phrases like Dios es Vida adorn the hoods of residents' trucks, while stickers on the bicycles leaning against the hostel’s shed advertise Rastafarianism.

Every morning, a crowd gathers to watch the sunrise over the lake. There, Lonnie announces that the Mayan name for Atitlan means "the place where the rainbow gets its colors”. The locals acknowledge his remark with a smile; the travelers nod furiously in agreement. For the first time, he makes sense.

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Killer View :: La Casa Del Mundo

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Jaibalito dock, Jaibalito, Guatemala
September 14, 2006 at 9:09 AM | by | Comments (0)

We are suckers for a room with a killer view.  We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.

A great view somehow gets better when it's hard to be reached. This fantastic view can only be yours after securing your room at La Casa del Mundo Hotel and arriving there via boat service. Plopped atop a cliff and surrounded by gardens, the hotel has the best view of Guatemala's Lake Atitlan. The rooms aren't all that get the view, the hot tub "overhanging the lake" does as well. The view is so gorgeous here that you can almost ignore the absurd amount of Guatemala-style quilt work in the rooms.

Related Stories:
· La Casa del Mundo [Flickr]
· La Casa del Mundo Reviews [TripAdvisor]

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Save The World Honeymooner Spot

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 6 calle 6-38 zona 9 Local 6, Buenaventura, Guatemala
March 31, 2006 at 4:19 PM | by | Comments (0)

From time to time readers ask HotelChatter for trip advice, and from time to time we answer them here, thinking our advice to the asker might benefit the hotel mavens in general--greater good ya know?

This particular request was from a "save the world" type couple--he is a landscape architect, she's a social capitalist--looking for a perfect honeymoon spot in June. This is the kind of couple that wakes up early on Saturday morning and build houses for Habitat for Humanity, or jets off to South America using their Spanish skills to help coffee farmers negotiate. In any event, they didn't have a definite destination, but mentioned Central America, so we ran with it, hoping to get some of their do-gooder karma through osmosis.

Hotel Atitlan, on the banks of Lake Atitlan, is a stylish thatch roofed former coffee plantation with 65 rooms, each with a four-post bed.  

This hotel won't break the bank, and it isn't five star luxury, but it does offer some of the most gorgeous views of the lake and nearby volcanoes that you will find in the area. The hotel is located far enough from touristy Panajachel to avoid the clutter, but close enough to daytrip to the town.

From the hotel you can hike to a butterfly farm, the lake, and a waterfall. If you are real quiet, during your hike you might even see some crazy Guatemalan monkeys frolicking along the way.

Downside? As we said, this place is not luxurious, so don't bring your bride/groom here unless you are sure they are up for it.  Also, the rooms are bathless--shower stalls only--if that matters to you. And like many places in Central America, one reviewer suggests you best prepare to share your space with some insects.

Have a hotel question you want us to take a stab at? Ask away.

Related Stories:
· Hotel Atitlan Reviews [TripAdvisor]