“A classy and romantic little hotel, brimming with Spanish and Cuban colonial antiques, and just 4 blocks from the main plaza”
Extensions and refurbishments have seen the creation of spacious rooms and suites, all on a lavish scale, and packed with eclectic details. Most are on the upper floor, some reached by a staircase at the back of the courtyard restaurant, others by stairs past the pool. Bathrooms are large, with striking porcelain in black, brown or orange; some have Jacuzzis. The French wrought-iron beds are delightfully comfy, and the walls are both faded and rich - sepia, pale greens, streaked terracotta, burnt ochre or cracked claret on polished plaster.
Room 12 is the most impressive. Formerly the owners' apartment, it features a large living room with a fireplace and a second smaller bedroom overlooking the pool. Spacious rooms 10 and 11 delight with their Spanish balconies and double bathtubs, as well as showers in bathrooms big enough to house a family. Rooms 8 and 9 are also large, with ornate fireplaces, splendid bathrooms, and private patios with fountains and water lilies.
The honeymoon suite (room 7) is above the restaurant, with its own staircase, a double Jacuzzi and a private balcony. Rooms 5 and 6 have queensize beds, plus hammocks on their first-floor verandas; room 4's unique bathroom is under the cupola, so has a domed roof.
The older rooms (numbers 1-3), on the ground floor off the restaurant, are smaller but good value: comfortable doubles or twins with ensuite bathrooms and signature décor. French windows open out onto the shared walled terrace/courtyard, which leads to the piano bar. These rooms can be noisy on busy nights and are small compared to the others.
All beds have 400 thread count Eqyptian cotton bed linen, and all rooms have soundproof doors and windows, plus cable TV. There's no air-conditioning, nor screens on the windows, but a fan can be provided on request.
One of the biggest attractions for guests is Panza Verde, one of the best restaurants in Guatemala, where Swiss-French chef Christophe Pache creates 'international food with a twist' in an elegant setting. Charmingly, the tables are scattered about the ground floor: you can opt for the vaulted dining room, get romantic beside the pool, go alfresco on the verdant, candlelit veranda, or retreat (as we did) to the 'cave', with its round tables and chandeliers. This is also where the live music (Latin or Cuban jazz) is played, next to the piano salon.
We began our evening with a cocktail on the rooftop terrace, while the sun set behind the volcanoes; there are also 2 bars with a vast selection of tequilas, scotch and rum. Our dinner started with the signature beef carpaccio, and asparagus spears simply presented. Delicious mains followed: succulent steak Bourguignon, squid in ink on rice, and the Swiss speciality of sliced pork flambéed in cognac with a mushroom and white wine sauce. There's an extensive wine list, and desserts, coffees and liqueurs to round off the evening.
Start the day with fresh fruit, pancakes, or a traditional Guatemalan breakfast, washed down with juice and coffee, any time between 8 and 10am. There's a Sunday brunch menu served from 10am to 1pm.
If not out on an excursion, you can take lunch from noon until 4pm - light dishes such as fresh Arugula salad or fettucine with vodka, tomato and cream, a fresh fish dish, or chicken in gorgonzola sauce with red peppers and mushrooms.