Antigua Guatemala

One of the most alluring things about Antigua, Guatemala is it doesn’t change much from one visit to the next. When I was back there recently it looked and felt mostly the same as the first time I was there many years ago. The same crumbling churches that got destroyed by earthquakes next to the same historic mansions that someone restored. I think some of the indigenous women selling scarves in the park were the same ones trying to hit me up then.

On the downside, until the last couple of years there wasn’t much movement in the luxury hotel situation. We didn’t need to do many updates since we launched because none of the hotels were doing major upgrades and nothing new was coming on the market. While the other tourism regions of Latin America boomed and evolved, Antigua seemed to be content with the same (increasingly booked out) lodging options.

It’s a whole different story now though. While the number of foreign tourists has grown in fits and starts, the Guatemalans have gotten steadily wealthier. From a low base, to be sure, but now when all those upper middle class people in the capital are looking for a weekend getaway, nearby Antigua is the automatic first choice. As a result, investors have felt more confident in opening new hotels and the local government officials are getting the message that they need more rooms for a rising occupancy rate.

Casa Rosal Hotel

So I’m pleased to announce we’ve added detailed reviews of two hotels that are fairly new on the scene. Both are an easy walk to the Plaza Grande.

The first is Casa Rosal, which has 25 rooms and backs right up to Panza Verde one street over. Like that one this is a hotel built to look like it has historic gravitas, but is really new construction. In this case there’s a clear Moorish feel to it, but offset by an impressive museum-worthy collection of pre-Colombian artifacts and commissioned modern sculptures. It also has some of the best-equipped rooms in town and a romantic restaurant open to the year-round nice temperatures. It’s also one of the few hotels anywhere near the center than has its own parking lot on site. See our full review of Hotel Casa Rosal.

San Rafael Antigua

With just seven rooms, San Rafael is less flashy. In a restored colonial house compound with two well-landscaped courtyards, it offers nice spots to relax for the included breakfast or after hours of walking around the UNESCO World Heritage center. Each room has a fireplace and a gorgeous bathroom with rain shower and quality toiletries.

There are plenty of pampering touches here, such as robes, down duvets, and nightly turndown service. Flat–screen TVs with HDMI connection and complimentary bottled water are also included. For early risers, there’s another nice addition: complimentary self–serve coffee and tea in the courtyard each morning.

This inn is a short walk from Antigua’s famous arch (pictured at the top) and close to dozens of bars and restaurants. See our detailed review of San Rafael Hotel in Antigua.