I visited this inn with a Gate1 tour last year in July. We arrived there prior to market day so we could see them setting up. Although it is a long and hilly drive from Guatamala City, it is so worth it. You will see all the locals out and about conducting their business and selling you, selling you and selling you on market day.
I had a warm welcome, and an extremely charming room. No TV, blowdryer, or anything special like that, but you are in the heart of a true Guatamalan native town and I would not have wanted it any other way. The restaurant was charming as well - I hate to keep using that word - but it just was!!! The food was good and we were treated to a dance presentation by some local children all decked out in their local garb and masks. The wait staff was pleasant, very efficient and all smiles. There were gardens within the rooms and in front of the restaurant. In them, you truly felt like you were someplace else - far, far, away. There were parrots and other colorful birds all around. This building is so old an authentic that you just feel it all around you. At night, a really old chap comes around to light your fireplace. There was a security guard that protected you at night.
Okay, but let's get to the real nitty gritty of this review. The reason why you travel on bumpy roads and across the vast landscape of mountains and greenery here, sometimes holding in your desire to go to the bathroom because the rest stops may be somewhat "different" than what we are used to, is to get to the shopping. There's no and ifs, or buts around this. But what shopping there is! As far as markets go, this one is verifiably local and authentic. Guatamalans from all over come here to shop, eat, buy and sell materials, food, crafts, cloth, shoes, bags, weavings, rugs, keychains, scary masks, lace, flowers, even cotton candy and yes - chicken pot holders and tons of colorful cloth bookmarks with tiny little woven dolls on them. Streets are hilly, steep and can be slippery but you will see natives interacting among us, right outside this little inn. The market opened at 6am and I was outside at 5:55 ready to start my shopping day! You want to get outside early because there is a flower market directly in front of the ancient church that is also steps away from this inn. You can go in and watch the mass, however there are some rules which your tour guide or the front desk can advise you on. You will see women carrying children on their backs, food you never imagined being cooked in front of you, the crazies things on people's heads and yes, chicken pot holders and colorful cloth bookmarks. Bargaining is the norm here and if you can get a good deal on a bulk package of these bookmarks (yes, bookmarks - remember those for all you kindle and e-readers?), they do make lovely gifts along with, well, a chicken potholder, and a bulk package of cloth magnet dolls, and cloth pens with dolls hanging off the top. This market will amaze you down any street you turn and the inn is the comfortable reward after such a busy shopping day. Just make sure you are firm with the little kids who will follow you for miles to buy their - chicken pot holders and bookmarks. Of course, I bought them, but once you buy just be firm on "no more" or carry some small trinkets like pencils, stickers, erasers to give them - they will light up like a match for you.
So, I give this inn all thumbs and fingers up - it's an experience, along with the market, that you will not want to miss and that will stay with you in your heart and mind. I know it sounds corny, but it's true. And I'm sure you can find someone who will love getting a chicken potholder and a colorful cloth bookmark. I actually gave the bookmarks and pens to my local librarians and they were so grateful to receive them!
And as for those (heaven forbid) that are not shopaholics - the curioso of local life, activity, and visual feasts will keep you busy and entranced while your significant other bargains for those - well, you know - chicken pot holders and colorful cloth bookmarks! Don't miss this experience!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Mayan Inn opened its doors back in 1932, it was designed from the beginning to be a hotel museum by it's founder Mr. Alfred S. Clark, who patiently started this magnificent collection of Spanish colonial antiques collecting every door, table, chair, bed, chest, trunk, etc. That are today part of the decorations of this magnificent hotel. The Mayan Inn's private collection of paintings are priceless with original master pieces from Humberto Garavito, Alfredo Galvez, Antonio Tejeda, Carmen Pettersen, among others. The hotel is located in the heart of Chichicastenango with in walking distance of the market, church and cemetery. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mayan Hotel Chichicastenango