Pegged to a sheer cliff face in a hidden corner of Atitlán and only accessible by water is Laguna Lodge, a stone and thatch construction that sits in marked contrast with the backpacker guesthouses normally found around the lake. Created by eco-tourism pioneers Mayah (a Kiwi) and Jeffro (an Australian), its appeal lies in its blend of impeccable environmental credentials and modern luxuries, including a spa, a gourmet restaurant, 7 spacious lake-facing rooms and a 2-bedroom villa. It’s perfect for romancing couples, who will enjoy lazing in the outdoor pool at the water’s edge and dining on candlelit terraces. Nature lovers and twitchers will be in their element, too, as the private reserve on which the lodge sits is home to rare belted flycatchers, blue-throated motmots and other colourful birds.
- Surrounded by the sounds of nature - lapping water, tweeting birds - with otherworldly views of the lake and its guardian volcanoes from the rooms, restaurant and pool
- Over 100 acres of protected flora- and fauna-filled forest to explore, with a guide if you want, plus kayaks to paddle around
- Well-crafted, flavoursome and organic vegetarian cuisine, with a daily changing set menu - even hardened carnivores will be impressed
- Pampering treatments in the intimate Hummingbird Spa (hot-stone massages, Maya foot scrubs), plus a garden Jacuzzi - the perfect antidote to hikes around the reserve
- Evening drinks under the stars, and breakfasts in the company of busy hummingbirds as fishermen canoe back and forth
- Service is wonderfully friendly, but it can sometimes be a little slow as all food and drink is freshly made
- Some paths in the reserve are steep and slippery. Tread carefully, and make sure you take a map to make sense of the markers
- The sunbathing area on the jetty lacks privacy as it doubles as a public dock
- There's a strict payment and cancellation policy, and rates are subject to an additional 22% tax
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 7 rooms + 1 villa for 2-4
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- Over 13s welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car not necessary
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Snorkelling equipment
The lodge’s spacious rooms (all called suites) are arranged over 3 floors, all with large glass windows and most with terraces facing the lake. Mayah and Jeffro adhered to the strictest eco principles when creating the colourful décor. Walls mix homemade adobe and clay bricks (sometimes exposed, sometimes smoothed in Moroccan-style tadelakt), curtains are unbleached local cotton, and lampshades are made from maize paper. Beautiful touches include cypress wood tables, carved beds, antique desks, artisanal seats from Nahuala in southern Guatemala, ancient Maya ceramic ornaments, and framed Art Naïf paintings by artists from nearby San Juan La Laguna.
Maximon is the most compact, but it has a beautiful view from the bedroom. From Ceiba and Monja Blanca, you can gaze at the water, framed by banana trees and coffee plants, from the comfort of your kingsize bed. The larger Tecún and Pato Poc suites have small sitting areas with wicker chairs and one-way mirrors so you can see the lake from the bathrooms; Pato Poc has 2 beds and is ideal for friends travelling together. Luxury suites Jaguar and Quetzal have bigger balconies with wicker sofas shaded by thatch - perfect for an alfresco sundowner.
Families with older kids can book the two-bedroomed Kucumatz Villa, which is spread across two floors and comes with a sitting room and a large terrace with those glorious lake views. The first level has a kingsize bedroom, the second level has a second bedroom with a kingsize bed and a double bed; both rooms are ensuite.
Beds in all rooms are comfortable and covered with intricately woven Maya textiles and cushions, while curtains are double-lined to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep. The terracotta-tiled bathrooms, accented with bronze accessories, have green marble showers (no tubs), blue and white hand-painted ceramic twin sinks, botanical toiletries and cotton bathrobes.
With its candlelit dining room, fireplace and lakeside terrace, the restaurant, Zotz (meaning 'bat'), is one of the lodge’s star attractions. The set menu changes daily, but the focus is always vegetarian cuisine using local ingredients and foraged herbs.
Carnivores shouldn’t be put off: it’s mouthwatering stuff. Dinners might start with a delicate vegetable strudel with blue cheese, wild spinach and leafy chípílín (a native plant), while mains could be vegetable and mushroom stroganoff or a rich lasagna with pesto, tomato and ricotta. Puddings are sublime - perhaps banana mascarpone dusted with Guatemalan cocoa, a calorific sticky date pudding, or a light ricotta cheesecake with a blueberry and cardamom compote.
Breakfast is a tasty à la carte spread, with options such as scrambled eggs with refried beans and ranchero sauce, mushroom and cheese omelette, wholewheat pancakes with syrup and croissants with jam, accompanied by freshly ground coffee and orange juice. Lunch is a roster of healthy soups, salads and baguettes - we enjoyed a delicious black bean and ginger soup served with toasted wholemeal bread, and a panini stuffed with cheddar, onion, tomato and spicy rocket. This was followed by moreish carrot cake topped with a thick lick of cream cheese icing.
If you’re not out hiking you can tuck into complimentary muffins and tea at 5pm every day. Wines and cocktails are also available in the bar; the zingy ‘Molten Lava’ signature cocktail, made from pressed carrot, apple juice and Guatemalan rum, is a great way to kick-start your evening.
If you fancy trying somewhere different one day, take a short stroll to the flower-framed Villa Sumaya yoga retreat, whose restaurant serves up healthy cuisine and inventive juices.
- Family friendly
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian options
- Explore the 100-acre private nature reserve, either independently or with a guide. The protected habitat - some of the only primary forest remaining around the lake - has stunning views, rare birds and dragonflies, and thatched pavilions where you can stop for a break
- Borrow one of the lodge’s kayaks and paddle out into the lake; mornings are better due to the afternoon Xocomil (‘the wind that carries away sin’). You can also swim in the lake - masks, snorkels and flippers are available
- Take a boat to Santiago Atitlán, the largest town on the lake and home to some of the most beautifully embroidered clothes in the Maya world, as well as famed religious idol Maximón
- Take a Spanish class, paraglide from a volcano, zip-line through the forest, horse ride through a coffee plantation, or sample high-altitude scuba diving - all easily arranged through the hotel
- Hike up to the hilltop village of Santa Cruz La Laguna. Its patron saint’s day is celebrated with festivities and religious ceremonies during the second week of May
- Walk the flower-fringed highland trail between Santa Cruz La Laguna and the tiny village of Jaibalito - one of the most stunning paths in the area
- Take a guided tour of the Art Naïf studios in San Juan La Laguna
- Shop with abandon at Guatemala’s largest craft market in Chichicastenango, a highland town wreathed in pine trees and perfumed by incense wafting from its whitewashed church. You’ll find beautiful masks, textiles and wooden sculptures for sale
- Back at the hotel, relax in the lakeshore pool or outdoor Jacuzzi, sunbathe on the jetty, or head to the spa for a well-earned massage or foot treatment
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Horse riding
- Language courses
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Scuba diving
- Scuba diving courses
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
Laguna Lodge is not particularly child-friendly and doesn’t accept guests under the age of 13. That said, teens with an interest in nature will love it here, and the DVDs in the upstairs lounge will help to keep them entertained in the evenings. There's a two-bedroom villa that sleeps 6, and the larger suites can accommodate an extra bed (charged for). The restaurant is happy to prepare pastas and veggie-burgers for fussy eaters.
Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Extra Beds Available
Laguna Lodge is set on the northern shore of Lake Atitlán, just to the east of the village of Santa Cruz La Laguna. It’s only accessible by water, and boat transfers from the town of Panajachel (about 2-2.5 hours by road from Guatemala City) are included in the rates.
Guatemala City La Aurora (147km away) is the closest airport - click on the links below for a list of airlines serving it.
From the Airport
The lodge can arrange private transfers from the airport to Panajachel, or you can take one of the regular tourist shuttle buses (see below). Boat transfers from Panajachel to the hotel are included in the rates and take about 10 minutes. Direct helicopter transfers from the airport to the lodge can also be organised on request.
Tourist shuttle buses run regularly to Panajachel from Guatemala City, Antigua and other towns. Tickets can be booked through local agents; prices vary according to the luxury status of the vehicle.
Laguna Lodge and most local villages are only accessible by boat, so you won’t need a car here. That said, driving around Guatemala is certainly possible, with relatively empty roads and friendly locals (though a good working knowledge of Spanish is useful). If you want to hire a car for a wider tour of the country see our car rental recommendations. You’ll have to leave your car in Panajachel, but the lodge can arrange parking for you there.
Public water taxis pass the lodge’s jetty every hour or so during the day and will stop if you wave. Private boats can also be arranged with 24 hours’ notice.
Detailed directions will be sent to you once your booking is confirmed through i-escape.
More on getting to Guatemala and getting around
- Guatemala City La Aurora 147.0 km GUA
- Beach 80.0 km
- Shops 2.0 km
- Restaurant 0.2 km