Calle de la Calzada, Granada, Nicaragua
The city of Granada is fast becoming quite the Mecca for travelers eager to escape Central America's more heavily trodden destinations. To accommodate these new visitors, fabulously refurbished Spanish colonial hotels are opening throughout the historic urban center. This beauty, named in honor of Nicaragua's most famous poet, Rubén Darío, is perhaps the best.
Hotel Darío occupies a neoclassical 1902 landmark structure, with an eye–catching and ornate facade that dominates the pedestrian promenade of Calle La Calzada, lined with outdoor cafés and fine restaurants. This wedding cake of a building, carefully painted in shades of aquamarine, has served as a private residence, a revolutionary headquarters and a prime spot for Granada's best families to observe the city, cathedral, and ragged crater of Mombacho Volcano, all from the wonderful balconies that now front its street–side rooms.
The dramatically arched entrance of the hotel, paved in hand–painted Spanish tiles, opens onto a flower–strewn courtyard garden where doves frolic in a cooling fountain. On all sides, fantastic woodwork has realized classic Moorish archways that lend this exquisite interior an exotic flavor, which can be enjoyed by both guests and those who visit the hotel's fine–dining restaurant, El Tranvía, serving elaborately presented Nicaraguan fusion cuisine in elegant environs beneath a high, soft–lit ceiling. Those with smaller appetites can enjoy this architectural artistry from the onsite café, Chocolate, where the excellent complimentary breakfast is also served.
Only guests can continue to the second interior courtyard, where a small, sunny pool surrounded by lounge chairs provides cool respite from the moist tropical heat for which La Gran Sultana (Granada's nickname for half a millennium) is known. Or continue to your exquisitely decorated accommodations. Though the rooms fronting the busy street have those fine balcony views, you might prefer the quieter interior rooms. None are particularly large, but all are masterfully designed for the illusion of spaciousness, with wonderful high ceilings and simple but pretty furniture crafted from wrought iron and rich hardwoods.
In addition to a smattering of antiques to compliment the conscious echoes of colonial Spain's Moorish flavor, modern conveniences including satellite television, frigid air conditioning, WiFi, and a tiny gymnasium. The concierge can offer advice in fluent English, arrange any sort of tour, and even rent you a car if you'd like to explore the rest of Southwest Nicaragua on your own.
Web Address: www.hoteldario.com
Total Number of Rooms: 23
Published rates: $97.95/$115 single/double, including tax and breakfast
Review and photos by Paige R. Penland.
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