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Guatemala has long been a favourite destination for intrepid adventurers and students looking to improve their Spanish. A few notable luxury hotels have opened up in the past few years, however, and some existing hotels have brought their operations up a few notches. Upscale travellers now have somewhere fancy to lay their head in the four main Guatemalan destinations.

La Lancha
Located on a steep hillside on the shores of Lake Peten, this is the best hotel near the Maya ruins of Tikal. As a part of director Francis Ford Coppola's triumvirate of hotels (the other two are in Belize), La Lancha is a stylish and comfortable set of bungalows with calming views and a sideshow of toucans and howler monkeys. The restaurant here far exceeds any other in the area and the choices of excursions can keep any budding explorer busy for days.

Casa Palopo
With a panoramic view of dramatic Lake Atitlan, ringed by extinct volcanoes, Casa Palopo is the kind of hotel that makes you want to sit in one spot for hours, the scenery washing away all your cares. The level of artistic sophistication in this intimate hideaway is far beyond the norm for Guatemala and the architecture takes full advantage of the vistas. The owner also oversees two of the best restaurants in the capital city, so guests enjoy cuisine that goes far beyond tortillas and beans. The outstanding service, impeccable attention to detail, and "room with a view" location all combine to make for a true luxury experience.


Hotel Casa Santo Domingo
For many years this was the only upscale hotel in the country aimed at leisure travellers and it is still the premier address in Antigua. With part of it built upon a convent founded in 1542, sections range from atmospheric ruins to gilded gold finery. Religious artefacts are around every turn, from the grand walkway entrance to the hallways leading to guestrooms. A saint statue here, and alter there, and angels smiling down from the heavy rafters above. Suites are far superior to the regular rooms, and are a good value, but all rooms have a fireplace. The cuisine, which goes from basic steaks to foie gras and truffles, gets high marks from guests and local socialites and it's hard to top the historic ambiance by candlelight at night. With a large pool and two bars, this is the spot for guests looking for a big hotel experience.

El Convento Boutique Hotel
This inviting small hotel is the newest luxury offering in the center of colonial city Antigua. Six junior suites, six suites and two master suites have similar views: carved wooden doors face the inner courtyard while glass doors open to a private outside garden. All the suites have conical fireplaces and duvets on comfortable mattresses. The long list of amenities includes soft robes, a towel heater, L'Occitane toiletries, a flat screen TV, music that can be piped into the bedroom and bath, and an iPod dock. A rectangular lap pool is in a central courtyard, near the upscale Sitz restaurant. For those put off by the size and crowds of Casa Santo Domingo, this is the top choice in Antiqua.

Vista Real Guatemala City
Nestled on a hillside overlooking Guatemala City, the Vista Real stands above the competition in more ways than one. Although the location is removed from the center, this allows it to be a quiet and calm retreat with upscale service and amenities. From the sit-down reception with moist washcloth to the recently renovated suites with plush mattresses and duvets, this hotel piles on the pampering. The continually groomed grounds provide plenty of green walking space outside, a crescent pool is surrounded by gardens, and La Ventana restaurant is one of the most elegant spaces in town. With its strong sense of place and the feel of a hillside retreat, this is the best choice in the capital.

About the Author:
Timothy Scott is editor of
Luxury Latin America, a guide to the best hotels and tours in Mexico, Central America, and South America. To see full reviews, go to the Guatemala Luxury Section
Article Source: - Top-5 Hotels in Guatemala
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