What do volcanoes, colonial cities, azure blue lakes, jungles and ancient ruins have in common? They can all be found in the Central American country of Guatemala. The country is the very heart of the Mayan civilization, a civilization that was quite advanced for its time.
The region was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, leaving behind a legacy of many colonial cities, of which Antigua is the most notable. Plus, you’ll want to take in one of the colorful markets where you can by locally made handcrafts. You’ll also find many great places to stay in Guatemala, from lakeside to hillside, where you can relax after a busy day of touring and outdoors activities.
Hotels don’t get much smaller than the Hotel Cirilo in Antigua, once a colonial capital of Guatemala. This luxury boutique hotel has only seven rooms, but what really makes it unique is the setting. The hotel is built around the ruins of a 16th century colonial church. Described by guests as magical, you’ll definitely want to enjoy your breakfast sitting among the gardens in these ruins. Within walking distance to attractions, this is a great place for couples since children under 15 are not permitted.
If you’re intrigued by the Mayan religion, you’ll want to stay at Bolontiku Hotel Boutique. The hotel’s name translates as “sanctuary to nine Mayan gods.” It’s a good place to experience the mysticism of this ancient indigenous culture since the hotel is located on the scenic Lake of the Itzá and nearby jungle. Dishes made from ingredients used by the Mayans are served in the restaurant. And if you want to arrive by air, the hotel can accommodate your helicopter.
Playing golf in a spectacular setting doesn’t get any better than at La Reunion Golf Resort, about 30 minutes outside Antigua. The Fuego Maya course is one of the world’s top golf courses. Carefully tended greens on this 18-hole course designed by Pete and Perry Dye surrounded by lush green forests. The crowning glory, however, is the view: four volcanoes. These volcanoes can also be seen from the rooftop bar and restaurant. The rooms aren’t too shabby, either, with private patios, infinity pools and private outdoor showers.
The Hotel Candelaria Antigua makes it easy for you to ease into Guatemalan life. Reviewers describe the hotel, a short walk from the historic town center, as rustic, but it’s so much more than that. Local artisans made the furniture from wood found in the country. Locally handcrafted art pieces adorn the walls. Rooms feature Mayan décor, including shades of blue, red and purple. If you want stunning views of volcanoes and surrounding area, head to the rooftop terrace and solarium.
Not too many hotels have their own nature preserve, but Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort does. Situated on Lake Atitlan in the Mayan highlands, the lodge is accessible by boat. The reserve isn’t very big but it does have a high altitude tropical dry forest that you can walk through. Volcanic stone was used to construct the hotel; this is only fitting as you can see three volcanoes from the hotel. More stone as well as native antiques are featured in rooms and public areas.
The Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel makes a good base of operations when it comes to exploring the world of the ancient Mayans. You can choose between visiting the magnificent ruins of Tikal, exploring the jungle on the hotels private nature preserve, or, better yet, do both. You can also get in some bird-watching or sunset-watching from your luxury suite. Your suite may be over water, but don’t even think about swimming unless you don’t mind sharing the lake with crocodiles. Relax, instead, in your private hot tub.
If you’re looking for perfect views of Guatemala’s legendary Lake Atitlan, the terrace at Casa Palopo is a good place to find them. Whether you’re lounging in a chaise or dipping in the infinity pool, the views are simply stunning. The hotel also is a good place to see fresh tortillas being made or a demonstration on weaving Mayan textiles. Some rooms in this small boutique hotel feature blue walls, the paint being made with lime, sugar and salt. And everywhere Mayan handcrafts decorate the interior.