Piedraluna

Zona 10, Guatemala City, Guatemala Book from US$100

Reviewed by Michael Buick
A friendly, family-run hotel with clean modernist furnishings, comfy beds and a rooftop restaurant, minutes from the heart of the city
'Get in and get out' seems to be the standard advice on Guatemala City. True, it's not a particularly relaxing place to spend time, and is visited primarily while in transit to and from other more exotic parts of the country. Yet there's lots to see and do here, so the vision of Piedraluna’s owner, Gabriela, makes sense: a clean, calm base in the heart of the city’s uptown district, from which exploring is easy.

A small hotel with only 6 rooms, Piedraluna’s décor aims at being international and cosmopolitan - white, modern and uncluttered with wooden floors. While lacking any distinctive Guatemalan character, the atmosphere is welcoming and the staff are friendly. Rooms are light, spacious and well-fitted, with comfortable beds. A cosy balcony restaurant serves tasty food, and all the vegetables and coffee are supplied from the family’s farm. Well located for key attractions such as the National Archaeological Museum, and crucially just 4km from the airport, Piedraluna is a relaxing base in Guatemala’s busy and sometimes daunting capital.

Highs

  • It's close to the Zona Viva, which is the trendy area of the city and full of restaurants, bars and nightclubs
  • There are kitchenettes in all rooms; most have balconies too
  • Staff are happy to advise on the city's highlights
  • The environmentally conscious owners have made a genuine attempt to create a low-impact hotel

Lows

  • The international ‘furniture showroom’ modernism with little Guatemalan flavour may disappoint
  • The food is on the pricey side

Best time to go

Known as 'the land of eternal spring', Guatemala is blessed with balmy stable temperatures year round. It's normally dry and warm between November and May, December to March is the busiest in terms of tourists. The rainy season starts in May and ends in November but this mostly entails sunny mornings with rain at teatime. However, June and July are often dry and clear and are also a popular time to visit; September and October are the wettest months.

All year round is party time in Zona Viva. The main Guatemalan City fiesta is on the 15 August and features parades and marches.

Our top tips

If you want to eat out, there are plenty of good restaurants in the city’s upmarket Zona Viva district. An excellent option is the Nais Aquarium restaurant, a feast for the tastebuds with its deliciously prepared seafood dishes, and for the eyes, thanks to all the mini aquariums inside.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 6
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

There are 6 rooms in total, stacked apartment-style on the second and third floors. There are 2 rooms in each in category - small (Standard), medium (Junior Suite) and large (Loft Suite) and each category has a 1-bed (kingsize) or 2-bed (queensize) option.

Décor is clean and cosmopolitan - whites, metallic greys, earth browns - and a wee bit Ikea. Intended to be practical for longer stays, each room has complimentary WiFi, a well-stocked kitchenette and a video door buzzer so guests can receive visitors without involving reception. There's plenty of natural light and the 2 larger room categories have a small balcony.

When travelling with a sibling it's great to have enough space to keep familial relations harmonious, which is just what we found in our 2-bed Loft Suite. A lounge, a kitchen and a dining table flowed into a bedroom with a queensize bed dressed in organic cotton sheets, non-allergenic pillows and a luxurious feather duvet.

The loft-style second bedroom was reached by a steel wall-mounted staircase. My brother was all praise for the comfyness of his bed - just the right amount of firm - and reluctant to leave it in the morning, although his lack of bedside light was frustrating (all other beds seemed to have one). A small bathroom has a cool stone and glass sink unit contained eco-friendly toiletries, with a shower over a bath.

The rooms were quiet, given the hotel’s central location, but the thin blinds might annoy light sleepers and the shower was a little puny on hot water.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Piedraluna’s balcony restaurant is on the third floor and, while the view over residential buildings won’t have you reaching for your camera, it gives a welcome sense of peace and space. Furnished with wicker style chairs, large pot plants and patio heaters, it's a nice place to dine or have a pre-dinner drink.

The service was good - attentive and discreet - and very accommodating, with offers to keep the kitchen open to accommodate a late plane arrival. I had a tomato soup starter (tasty with a good tangy bite), followed by tenderloin medallions with caramelised onions - the meat was tender, if a little cold, and the fries crisp and delicious. Other dinner dishes included Thai curry prawns, Pollo Parmesano and Mediterranean-style fish dishes. Lighter options included salads and sandwiches. Though the menu was rather expensive, the atmosphere and home-grown organic vegetables made it worth the price.

Breakfast (not included) is classic Guatemalan in style: scrambled eggs, refritos beans with cheese and salsa, and bacon and ham if you want it. A basket of bread rolls and orange juice and coffee are also included.

You can request a packed lunch to take out and about with you: choose from a variety of sandwiches, a snack such as Pringles, fruit, and a Granola bar or a cookie. You get a drink too.

Your room has a well-equipped kitchenette - a fridge, a microwave, a 2-burner electric range, a coffee machine, a kettle, cutlery and crockery - where you can rustle up meals and snacks. Local markets offer an excellent selection of fruit and veg and there's a large grocery store 2 blocks away.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit the elegant building of the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia (National Archaeological Museum), displaying many of Guatemala’s Mayan treasures under one roof

  • The Modern Art Museum, Natural History Museum and Children’s Museum are all on the same street (take a taxi from the hotel)

  • Find international fashion brands and electronic goods at the Oakland Mall, 5 minutes' walk away, which also houses a luxury cinema, cafés and restaurants

  • The exotic Botanical Gardens are further on towards Zona 4

  • Explore the heart of the old city in Zona 1, where new bars and cafés are opening in once-rundown historic buildings

  • The 1868 cathedral, a classic example of squat Baroque architecture designed to withstand earthquakes, dominates the Parque Central (the political and religious centre of Guatemala). Poignantly, it has the names of the "disappeared" from the Civil War carved on its pillars. On another side you'll find the Palacio Nacional, the former seat of government

  • Behind the square is the Mercado Central which, though ugly, houses a surprisingly good and reasonably priced array of textiles, leatherware, jewellery and handicrafts, along with fruit and vegetables. Or take a taxi to the Mercado de Artesanias in Zona 13, which has a wonderful selection of Guatemalan products

  • Upmarket Zona Viva (a few blocks away) is aptly named - check out the nightclubs playing everything from salsa to house, via merengue and reggae

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Cots and extra beds can be provided for children on request. Parents of smaller children are dissuaded from choosing Loft Suites 5 and 6, which both have stairs.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
7/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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