The central American country of Guatemala is a vibrant, exciting destination. Visitors can expect a fascinating mix of ancient and modern cultures and one of its great appeals is the strong presence of centuries old Mayan traditions in daily Guatemalan life. This brings an abundance of colours, smells and flavours to this enchanting country, it is a captivating place. The scenery in Guatemala is not to be missed. From towering volcanoes to shimmering lakes, lush rainforest to colonial cities, there is a huge variety. Many of the best hotels in the country come with incredible views and we have hand-picked our favourites.
Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlán
Perched atop a hill in the small village of Santa Catarina Palopó, you will find Casa Palopó. Overlooking Lake Atitlán, this is an exceptional hotel in a wonderful location. Part of the Relais&Chateaux group, the property is independently owned but entirely deserves the seal of approval this group affords it.
Traditional Guatemalan and Mayan influences are found throughout the property. The rooms are decorated in beautiful colours, echoing the vibrancy of the textiles and buildings found in the surrounding villages and the shimmering waters of the lake beyond. The carefully crafted menu features traditional cuisine and uses much of the local produce. Most of the rooms offer views over Lake Atitlán and the three volcanoes. Nothing beats waking in the morning to the tranquil waters, watching small boats make their way across the water for fishing or a visit to the surrounding towns.
Anzan, Lake Atitlán
Anzan is a stunning design hotel located directly on the shores of Lake Atitlán. The contemporary architecture is the perfect, simple canvas to showcase the beauty of the natural surroundings in this idyllic location. There are just four rooms at the property which is also available for hire on an exclusive basis. The décor is simple and stylish with clean lines and minimalist furniture.
Picture windows make the most of the stunning vistas and there is nothing better than waking up to the view of Lake Atitlán and the three surrounding volcanoes. Dining at Anzan is something very special and there is a strong focus on the culinary experience with the seven-course tasting menu being a definite highlight. The ingredients are organic seasonal and sustainably sourced and the food here is celebrated as something of an art form. This is a truly special hotel and well worth a visit on a luxury trip to Guatemala.
Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel, Peten
Las Lagunas is a luxury hotel surrounded by the jungle in Peten, in the north of Guatemala. This delightful property sits in the heart of the Mayan world, close to the magnificent ruins of Tikal, Uaxactún and Yaxhá and on the shores of Quexil Lagoon. The owner of Las Lagunas has created a nature reserve of over 300 hectares surrounding the property, populating it with native species in order to preserve the precious flora and fauna. The décor blends beautifully with the surroundings, incorporating wooden floors and neutral tones.
The rooms offer spectacular views either over the Quexil lagoon, Monkey Island or the surrounding rainforest. The ethos at Las Lagunas is luxury by nature from moonlight dinners looking over the water to relaxing massages in the tranquillity of the jungle. Guests can visit the nearby ruins, explore the reserve and visit Monkey Island to feed its inhabitants. Bird lovers can head out with a local specialist to spot some of the many species that live in the rainforest – Guatemala is home to over 700 unique species of birds. This is without doubt the top hotel for visiting Tikal and the surrounding area.
La Lancha, Petén
Tucked away deep in the Mayan jungle and overlooking Lake Petén Itzá, you will find La Lancha. Part of the Family Coppola Hideaways, this property is one of several owned and created by the film director Francis Ford Coppola. The property is a 10-room lodge decorated with items personally selected by the Coppola family. Carvings, textiles and furniture all evoke the spirit of Mayan culture and traditional Guatemalan style. The rooms offer spectacular views across the lake or the surrounding rainforest.
The location is perfect for exploring the nearby Mayan ruins and the Maya Biosphere Reserve. It is only 45 minutes from the border, meaning guests can easily pop into neighbouring Belize. Guests can dine on the terrace overlooking the lake with the sound of parakeets all around them. The menu offers a delicious selection of traditional Guatemalan dishes all freshly prepared. This property is a perfect retreat in a secluded location surrounded by stunning nature and beautiful vistas.
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Villa Bokéh, Antigua Guatemala
For something a little different, Villa Bokéh on the outskirts of Antigua Guatemala is an alluring luxury hotel in the heart of a six-acre garden. The sister hotel to Casa Palopó and also part of the Relais&Chateaux group, this is the newest additional to Antigua’s luxury hotel scene. It is located just five minutes from the centre of colonial Antigua meaning you can combine easy access to the cobbled streets, pastel-coloured buildings and colonial charm of Antigua with the peace and tranquillity of a traditional countryside hacienda.
The design is a delightful mix of traditional Guatemala and modern design, peppered with pieces from the owner’s private art collection. The rooms are bright an airy with large windows offering views of the spectacular gardens and plazas. The menu has been created by the Guatemalan head chef and offers an enticing fusion of traditional Guatemalan flavours and nouvelle cuisine. Guests can head into Antigua to explore the beautiful city, relax in the gardens or by the pool, or take a boat ride on the hotel’s lagoon. This is a little slice of heaven in a gorgeous location.
Simon Williams is Director of Humboldt Travel. Humboldt Travel is a luxury travel company specialising in tailor made holidays to Latin America, Africa and Asia.