The review below from Frenchtouchfrance is largely accurate. This is a rather difficult hotel to assess because it has two absolutely stunning virtues - the garden and the wider setting, both extravagantly beautiful, making this a destination hotel.
The amazing garden, largely the creation of the hotel’s owner, an American named Sue, is evidently modeled on the classic English cottage garden - the preponderance of perennials and many roses imported from David Austin - as well as more elaborate gardens like Hidcote and Sissinghurst, as evidenced by its division into ‘rooms’ and the neatly clipped box borders and topiary. We congratulated her on it and she said how indulgent she was with it, even hiring eight full-time gardeners to constantly clip, weed, mow etc. Within this immaculately maintained garden are literally hundreds of birds. It is without doubt one of the finest hotel gardens we have ever seen and, contrary to the report below, it is lit at night.
Beyond the garden is the lake itself, a sublime landscape of water, hills and volcanoes. You just spend hours gazing at it, photographing it, as the light and clouds perform a daily dance. You must stay here at least three days to allow for the climate to work its magic. Stay for just a night, you might see nothing except mist. We saw it under all conditions, ranging from mist to bright Technicolor sunshine. It is magical.
Now, the hotel. We had already stayed elsewhere on the lake at Casa Palopo (qv) which might enjoy an even better view, though we had serious misgivings about that hotel, too. The Hotel Atitlan isn’t a boutique place at all; it’s a solid 3-star tourist class hotel that caters to coach parties and other large groups. In some respects, it could be a chain motel - the rooms are a bit dark and gloomy and need brightening up. The two queen-sized beds take up far too much space. The bathrooms work but also need replacing.
The rooms are laid out in one long, angled wing. Our was 215 which had a great view. I would recommend rooms 205-215 or 305-315 for the best views. Higher numbers are slightly newer rooms but don’t have quite the same view. Ground floor rooms lack privacy and views. The end of the wing has some nice-looking suites. There is a singularly ugly collection of tower blocks alongside the hotel but they don’t intrude that much.
Downstairs, the large restaurant is a bit institutional. Service was always hit-and-miss and the food was, well, let’s be kind and call it uninspiring. It was package tour food, though they only laid on a buffet once in the three nights we were there. An early morning coffee station in the lobby would be a plus as rooms lack their own facilities. Staff were usually friendly, though one front desk chap was rather surly. Prices are quite high and might be considered a rip-off by some who don’t value the garden as much as we did. We also think TripAdvisor’s price guide of $120 is a way-off - average room rates are much higher than that, say $200 a night.
Our stay included a Wednesday and Thursday when the hotel emptied out - presumably because most people headed off to the market at Chichicastenango, a trip we opted out of, and were glad that we did since we had this blissful garden and lake almost to ourselves.
The nearby town, Panajachel, seemed a bit grotty to us.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nominated by Travel + Leisure; "World's Best Awards 2011".This charming hacienda-style hotel is a formerworking coffee farm situated on the shores of Lake Atitlan, with a picture perfect view of volcanoes San Pedro, Tolimán and Atitlan. Highlighting numerous unique Guatemalan traditions with its colorful and vibrant interior, each room is individually decorated with hand-woven fabrics and carpets, handcrafted furniture, paintings and tile floors. All rooms have private balconies and breathtaking views of the lake. The swimming pool and Jacuzzi overlook the entire lake and the hotel’s magnificent wedding, tropical and rose gardens. The Botanical Gardens of Hotel Atitlán are a true garden lover’s paradise. Bird-watching is a popular pastime within its botanical gardens. Enjoy a cocktail or a refreshing tea from the selection of tea infusions by the fire in the hotel’s bar, and dine in an elegant setting where you will savor regional and international cuisine. You can’t miss this beautiful Hotel!!! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Atitlan Hotel Panajachel
- Hotel Atitlan Panajachel, Guatemala - Lake Atitlan