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December 10, 2011

Special Places to Stay in La Antigua, Guatemala

by Anne Paddock
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La Antigua, Guatemala is a colonial town about 40 kilometers (24 miles) southwest of Guatemala City in the central highlands of Guatemala (although the town is in the southern part of the country). La Antigua is simply known as “Antigua” (not to be confused with the island in the Caribbean)  and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site well-known for its cobblestone streets, colonial architecture and ruins.

In the center of Antigua is the Parque Central (Central Park) and the town is laid out in a grid pattern with streets running north (Avenida Norte)/south (Avenida Sur) and east (Calle Oriente)/west (Calle Poniente).  The downtown area is about ten square blocks that are easily and best navigated by foot. At an elevation of about 5,000 feet, Antigua is surrounded by three volcanoes:  Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango.  

 

mapa-el-conventoThere are more than 75 places to stay in Antigua with several full service hotels and an abundance of boutique hotels.  Below is a short list of full service and boutique hotels to consider:

 
Hotel Museo Casa Santo Domingo
The Hotel Museo Casa Santo Domingo is more aptly known as Santo Domingo and is a full service hotel located about four blocks from Parque Central. Advertised as a 5-star hotel, Santo Domingo is a 129 room hotel that seems to be a 4-star hotel by American standards and it’s the closest a traveler will get to a full service hotel in Antigua.  Santo Domingo was built in the ruins of an old convent (parts of which can still be explored) and displays artifacts throughout the hotel – hence, its name: Hotel Museo which means “Hotel Museum.”
 
 
 

Santo Domingo has a restaurant, bar, spa, swimming pool and a great Sunday brunch open to both hotel guests and the public. If planning on brunch, reservations are highly recommended because the Santo Domingo is a popular destination for both locals and tourists on Sunday mornings. Request an umbrella covered table on the terrace, if available and enjoy an abundance of fruits, fresh squeezed juices, tortillas with all the toppings, and traditional eggs, pancakes, sausages, bacon, and more.

 
Hotel Museo Casa Santo Domingo
3a Calle Oriente, No. 28A
La Antigua, Guatemala
00 502 7 820 12 20
www.casasantodomingo.com.gt

Rates start at $125 per night but check the website for specials and promotions.

 
Hotel Camino Real Antigua Guatemala

The Hotel Camino Real Antigua has been around for a long time and despite the changes in ownership and name through the years, everyone refers to this hotel as the Antigua Hotel- it’s where my husband learned to swim as a child when he lived in Antigua years ago.

 

fachada_noche_volcanLocated about five blocks from Parque Central, the Antigua Hotel is a full service hotel with 100 rooms and suites on a very large parcel of land so the gardens are large – so vast that when the big earthquake (7.5 in magnitude) of 1976 occurred, my in-laws and hundreds of other people camped out in the gardens to protect themselves from aftershocks that caused buildings to crumble.

 

There is a heated pool, jacuzzi, spa, and restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a brunch on Sundays.

 
Hotel Camino Real Antigua Guatemala
7ma Calle Poniente, No. 33B
La Antigua, Guatemala
00 502 7 873 70 00

www.caminorealantigua.com.gt

Rates from $155 per night but see the website for specials and promotions.

 
Mesón Panza Verde
Mesón Panza Verde is known as Panza Verde around town. A hotel  (9 suites and 3 double rooms), restaurant, gallery, and music bar, Panza Verde has been owned and managed by the same family since 1986. Located about five blocks from the Parque Central, Panza Verde is a boutique hotel that has a full service award winning dining room that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
 
 

Dinner can be enjoyed in the main dining room (that has a fireplace with a roaring fire every night), on the corridor surrounding the central garden outside, on the upstairs terrace (under the stars), or in La Cueva (pictured above, left) where live music is played several nights a week: Wednesday (Jazz), Thursday (Latin), Friday (Cuban) and Saturday (Guest Musician) – from 8:00-10:00 pm.

 
Mesón Panza Verde
5a Avenida Sur, No. 19
La Antigua Guatemala
00 502 7 832 17 45

www.panzaverde.com

Rates start at $85 a night (including breakfast) but check the website for specials and promotions. Children must be 15 years and older.

 
Palacio de Doña Leonor
Palacio de Doña Leonor is a 16th century mansion that was occupied by the daughter (Leonor: 1524 – 1583) of the Spanish Conquerer Don Pedro de Alvarado. The building has survived many earthquakes and was renovated and turned into a boutique hotel just a few years ago.  
 
 
 
The hotel has the typical colonial architecture with the central garden and the rooms off the garden.
 
 
 
Located one block from the Parque Central, the Palacio de Doña Leonor has 13 rooms/suites each named after a character of the Spanish conquest of Guatemala.
 
 
Palacio de Doña Leonor
4ta Alle Poniente
La Antigua Guatemala
00 502 7 832 22 81

www.palaciodeleonor.com

Rates start at $145 per night but check the website for specials and promotions.

 
El Convento

El Convento is a boutique hotel with 26 rooms and suites.  Built in the 16th century, El Convento was named for the Capuchin Convent (also referred to as “Las Capuchinas”), which was the last convent built (1736)  in Antigua before the earthquake of 1773 destroyed much of the town. Located in the front of the hotel, the Capuchin Convent is an archeological site well-known for its cloister.

 
The hotel is approximately five blocks from the Parque Central which makes for a quieter environment because the central area can get very noisy, especially on weekends.The map to the left shows the downtown area of Antigua with the “parque” or Parque Central in the middle of the map.  El Convento is located in the northeast part (upper right side) of the map delineated by a “C.” Below is a picture of one of the suites at El Convento. The hotel has a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
 
 
 

The hotel has a central garden and each room/suite is unique in both size and decoration.

 
El Convento
2a Avenida Norte, No. 11
La Antigua, Guatemala
00 502 7 720 72 72

www.elconventoantigua.com

Rates from $165 per night but check the website for specials and promotions.

 
Posada del Angel

Posada del Angel is a small boutique hotel that is famous for two things:  the beautiful lap pool in the front entry area of the hotel; and because Bill Clinton stayed in this hotel during one of his visits to Guatemala during his presidency.  The hotel has 7 suites/rooms, most with a wood burning fireplace.  Breakfast is served daily. Lunch and dinner are not served at the hotel.

 
 
 
 
Posada del Angel
4 Avenida Sur, No. 24a
La Antigua Guatemala
00 502 7 832 00 60
1-305-677-2382 (in USA)

www.posadadelangel.com

Rates start at $175 per night, breakfast included.

 
Hotel La Reunion Golf Resort

The Hotel La Reunion Golf Resort which is known as La Reunion is located about 30 minutes outside Antigua and is the place to stay for any golf enthusiast.  La Reunion is a combination residential development and hotel with 26 suites. Each suite has a private heated pool, terrace, and jacuzzi. 

 
 

La Reunion is primarily known for the 18 hole Pete Dye signature golf course called “Fuego Maya,” that is beautifully maintained. The course offers breathtaking views with volcanos and cliffs surrounding the course, which my husband greatly enjoyed.

 
 

La Reunion offers a variety of activities beyond golf including horseback riding, tennis, squash, basketball, birdwatching, jogging and hiking trails.  The resort also has mini-golf – a 9 hole, par 31 course for children.  kids club for those 4-12 years old is provided from 8:00 – 4:00 pm on weekdays and 10:00 – 6:00 pm on weekends. A “Canopy and Rappel” adventure is also available on weekends for those that love zip lines.

 

The Mirador restaurant on site serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and there is a snack bar that serves sandwiches, salads, and barbecue on the weekends and two bars. In addition, there is room service.

 
Hotel La Reunion Golf Resort
KM 91.5 CA 14 (Road to Antigua)
San Juan Alotenango Guatemala 
00 502 7 873 14 00

www.lareunion.com.gt

Rates start at $300 per night but check the website for packages and promotions.

 
Other Services

Massage:  To arrange a massage, consider contacting Nancy Payne, a licensed massage therapist, yoga instructor, and personal trainer.  Educated in Canada, Nancy has lived in Antigua for years, speaks fluent English and Spanish, and will come to your hotel with her massage table.  Her phone number is 00 502 5 262 81 61.  Her e-mail is: nancys.payne@gmail.com.

 

Yoga: Yoga classes are offered daily at the Galeria Panza Verde (the hotel) located at 5a Avenida Sur, No. 19, Antigua. Go to www.yogantigua.com for the class schedule.

 

Meditation/Therapies/Massage: The Prana Holistic Center offers provides meditation, acupuncture, reflexology, chiropractic care, massage and more. Go to www.prana-antigua.comfor a list of services and schedules or call 00 502 5 903 10 02.

 

Fitness Center/Gym:  The Antigua Gym is the gym to go to in Antigua with a great selection of weight and cardiovascular equipment.  Daily or weekly memberships can be purchased. Located at 6ta Calle Poniente, No. 31 in Antigua (next to the candle shop and a few blocks from the Hotel Camino Real Antigua Guatemala or the Posada del Angel) the gym opens at 5:00 am during the week and 8:00 am on weekends (although sometimes the staff can be late on weekend mornings depending on the party the night before). Call 00 502 7 832 75 54 for more information on classes (aerobic, spinning, yoga, etc.).

 
Helpful Hints:
  • The quetzal is the local currency and the current exchange rate is: 8 quetzales equals 1 US dollar (each quetzal is approximately 13 US cents).
  • Tipping is not required but most restaurants add a 10% service charge to the bill.  For small cafes, most patrons leave the change.
  • There is a 22% tax on all hotel rooms.
  • Arrange all transportation from the airport in Guatemala City (La Aurora International Airport) through the hotel, if possible. Once you claim your luggage and go through customs, slowly exit the airport keeping your luggage close.  Look for your driver who will be standing behind a barrier;  he will be holding a card with your name printed on it. Do not exit past the barrier until you see your driver.  Upon signaling to the driver, he will meet you at an open section, take your luggage and assist you to his van (typical tourist vehicle) that is parked in the short-term parking garage across the street.
  • Antigua can be noisy on weekend nights so consider your tolerance for noise and the location of the hotel when making a hotel reservation.
  • Cars are not allowed to blow their horns in Antigua which keeps the noise level down.
  • Buses are diverted around town to also keep the noise down.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution when adventuring out at night.
  • Do not keep your wallet in a back pocket and do not carry a purse. Instead, use your front pockets or an interior money belt.
  • If using a taxi, always negotiate the rate before getting into the taxi.  If language assistance is needed, use the concierge or an employee of the hotel to assist you.
  • An alternative to the taxi is the “toot-toot” – a three wheel canopy covered vehicle that holds up to 2 passengers. The toot-toot is a quick way to get around town quickly, especially after shopping.
  • Semana Santa – Easter Week – is the busiest tourist week when most hotels require a minimum 5 night stay.  Reservations also need to be made far in advance because the hotels fill up quickly this time of year.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes as all the streets are uneven stone and the sidewalks have cracks.  Also, watch your head while you are walking on the sidewalks as windows extend out.
  • The “Revue” is a free magazine published monthly in English that is a great reference guide for visitors and locals alike.  Most hotels have copies and the magazine is available all over town. Or, go to their website:  www.revuemag.com
  • Another free magazine called “Que Pasa” is published monthly in both English and Spanish (on alternate pages) and serves as a good reference guide. Moste hotels have copies and the magazine is available all over town. Or, go to their website: http://grupoquepasa.com/
  • In calling Guatemala from the US, dial 011 502 7 and then the last seven digits. If calling from within Guatemala, dial 7 and then the last seven digits.
  • The US Embassy in Guatemala is located at Avenida Reforma 7-01, Zona 10, Guatemala City.  The phone number is 00 502 2 236 4501 and the emergency phone number is 502 2 331 23 54.  The website is: http://guatemala.usembassy.gov/

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