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“Hakuna Matata” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Round House

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The Round House
La Pintada | in between the hot spring and canyon, on the Rio Dulce, Livingston, Rio Dulce 18002, Guatemala   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 10 Livingston B&B and Inns
San Diego, California
2 reviews
“Hakuna Matata”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2014 via mobile

This was the first hostel that I stayed in during my 3 week trip in Guatemala.

I was a bit worried because this was my first hostel stay and I solely decided to stay because of a random reference I received on a travel forum. I was also second guessing my decision to commit 5 nights to a hostel that I didn't know anything about. (I was such a newbie, that I didn't even bother to look at reviews on trip advisor)

However, when I arrived here, all my worries melted away. Chris and Dani were the nicest host I could've possibly asked for. They were knowledgeable and always around to answer any questions, they were so easy to talk to, they were helpful in me getting acclimated to a new environment alone. Their easygoing nature made myself and all the other guests forget about whatever worries we might have had.

The boat ride on Rio Dulce to arrive to the hostel was beautiful and being away from everything made for the long stay that much enjoyable. Swimming in the river, kayaking to the natural hot springs, reading a great novel in the hammock, and watching for a manatee in the river were just some things I got to do during my stay.

This hostel doesn't have wifi and that might be a deal breaker for some, but personally, I loved the fact that they didn't have wifi. It forced me to pay attention and enjoy the now, not what is going on thousands of miles away back home in the states. If I needed to use internet, Dani had a laptop that anyone could use.

Also, their food.... The family style dinner with everyone made dinner so enjoyable. Having delicious freshly prepared food doesn't hurt either.

To Chris & Dani, I want to thank you for making my stay so memorable. I hope that everyone will get to enjoy this place as much as I did.

P.s. Bring a good book or two!

Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
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85 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (11)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2014

I went with my girlfriend a few months back.

We got picked up in Livingstone by Chris, the owner - and the hilarity ensued. This guy is a legend, and he runs his establishment with Dani amazingly. We were going to stay for one day, ended up staying a week.

Cheap food - family style dinner - and delicious. All homemade and locally inspired. They make their own bread. And they have this delicious Tiger Sauce - it blew my mind.

The Place is unbelievable. 2 Story, Literally Round, House - it's a lodge in the middle of the jungle, solar powered. Great showers, great toilets and Chris is a master craftsmen building new additions all the time. We stayed in the private rooms which were quite fantastic - large and the beds were great.

The scenery here is unlike anywhere I've seen so far - the Roundhouse sits on the Rio Dulce, and has a dock with kayaks and canoes available to roam around the river. My girlfriend and I went for a long paddlin' through the river and ended up at this glorious sulfur hot springs, located next to a series of caves.

The best part about this was Dani and Chris. They were fantastic hosts, inspiring us with their worldly stories and outlooks on life. It was the best conversation of our month long trip.

All in all, this place can't even get rated with numbers, because they won't do it justice. If you're going to Guatemala go to the Roundhouse.

Room Tip: Private rooms are sweet. Dorms are wide and spread apart.
See more room tips
  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2014

First off, let me preface this review by saying that I am a complete jerk for waiting a whole three months to review this wonderful place. I probably deserve to be banned for life (but please don't - I don't think I could survive without this place and these people in my life!). It has become my happy place where I go in my mind when the Canadian winter just becomes toooo much.

We arrived at the Round House with the intention of staying one night before continuing on to Guatemala City. Before we knew it, "just one more day" turned into more than a week! Staying here was by far the highlight of our time in Guatemala, and we are now in the process of planning a return trip exclusively for the purpose of spending more time in this paradise.

The minute you step off the boat, you know you are in a special place. The gardens on the property are absolutely spectacular, and the buildings are truly incredible. It is immediately apparent that a lot of love, care, and attention to detail went into the construction of the Round House - the beautiful woodwork will astound you every morning when you wake (to the songs of birds and insects, of course). The beds are comfortable, the rooms clean, and the common areas perfect for lounging around and talking with fellow travelers, the awesome owners, and the steady stream of locals and expats who stop in for a beer and some conversation. And the bathrooms, the bathrooms! I haven't seen better in a hostel/guesthouse. After years of traveling I've become accustomed to run-down cement shower stalls, so it was a lovely surprise to find shared bathroom/shower facilities that were clean, well-maintained, and comfortable.

The atmosphere at the Round House is unique and special. It is hard to describe, really. It manages to be relaxing and peaceful without the stuffiness of some "retreat" hotels, while at the same time being a fun, laid-back, social place without the traditional fall-down-the-stairs-and-puke-on-your-bunk type of environment found at a lot of "party" hostels. If you're an adventurous and social traveler who loves a good beer, good conversation, and a beautiful setting, then this is your mecca. If you're really lucky, Chris will have some of his excellent home-brews on hand for your visit - if he doesn't drink them all before they reach maturity, that is! (One of these days, Chris, one of these days).

By far the highlight of our visit was the atmosphere that the wonderful owners Dani and Chris have cultivated. Their kindness and hospitality will make your trip! From the day we arrived we felt less like guests and more like we were visiting good friends. Chris and Dani are well liked and respected in the Rio Dulce community, as evidenced by the steady stream of friends who pop by for a beer and some smiles. They're a great source of local knowledge/information on the river, and are the kind of people you could sit and chat with all day (which we did). Lots of laughs, great conversation, Bob Dylan sing-alongs, and hilariously intense poker games were had by all!

If you're in the Rio Dulce/Livingston area, do yourself a favor and stop by the Round House. Even if you don't spend the night, swing by for a beer and one of their yummy sandwiches! You won't regret it.

Thanks for everything, Chris and Dani. Looking forward to seeing you guys again someday!

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria, BC, Canada
Level Contributor
53 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2013

The magic of Round House results from three intersecting factors:

1. A lodge on a jungle river "highway". A beautiful, rich jungle with a lodge embedded in it.

2. A dock and platform over the river where you arrive and leave from, but you also where you lounge for hours (or days in our case) in hammocks, watching life float by, the sun glistening, and people come and go. A front porch of sorts...an amazing river front porch.

3. Danni and Chris, wonderful hosts who really make their guests feel welcome and cared for. (Thank you guys!)

Put all three together and you haver river magic!

+'s:

~ amazing authentic river experience. In this world of sterile and plastic travel, this is the real deal.
~ kayaking just a little upstream to a lovely hot spring, huge iguanas, caves, and mangrove inlets you can explore.
~ great food
~ very modestly priced
~ the company of other travellers
~ Danni and Chris
~ a very easy-going, relaxed, and friendly atmosphere

-'s:

~ quite rustic. This is a natural jungle lodge, not a hotel. The price reflects this, but be clear on your expectations of facilities before you come.
~ the same very relaxed and open culture that helps makes the experience lovely means late nights and lots of socializing. This is not a quiet nature retreat. Again, be clear on your expectations.

Special Tip:

Spend time in the hammocks at the dock in the early morning and at sunset. LOVELY!

Thanks, Danni and Chris, for your wonderful hospitality!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jerusalem, Israel
Level Contributor
23 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 17, 2013

My boyfriend an I spent two nights in this relaxing and beautiful place and enjoyed every second! We stayed in a nice clean private room for only 110q. All the food, especially the family style dinner was amazing and in a very reasonable price! They make their own bread and home brewed beer which you've got to taste!! The atmosphere is amazing and very welcoming and Chris & Dani are the best hosts we've met so far. We went on a two hours hike in the rainforest behind the place with Jose which was very informative and nice, plus we rented a kayak for the whole day and paddled to the hot springs and the tiger cave just 30 min. away. We highly recommend it to everyone!!

Stayed December 2013
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Key West, Florida
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2013

Had a super time relaxing, drinking homemade beer and eating excellent food with Danny & Chris (and volunteers Brandon & Katie) at the Roundhouse on the Rio Dulce River, just 15 minutes upriver from Livingston, Guatemala! Beautiful 3 story wooden structure! This couple invites you into their home and lives or lets you have your privacy. The setting is to die for, right on the Rio Dulce and you can rent kayaks to explore, travel to Livingston, visit hot springs or just swim right off their dock. There is also a 2 hour hiking trail through the jungle. They have private rooms and a dorm. Also lots of books to chill with on hammocks or sofas. Evenings they have a family style meal and I loved the Texas Hold 'em games. Danny is a great cook and Chris has brewed different beers for many years. Fascinating young Cockney/Dutch couple with lots of travel experience! Public lancha from Rio Dulce town will drop you there and these guys can bring you into Livingston, so it is also convenient!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Merida, Mexico
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2013

I really enjoyed my time at roundhouse. I loved the common area and the hammocks close to the river. It´s definatley a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful nature on the river. In the evening we always had dinner together and it was the best food I´ve ever had in a hostel in central america. That´s definately a reason to go back to this place! The stuff was friendly and it´s so quiet there that you´ll have a great sleep. I would definately recommend this place!

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Round House

Address: La Pintada | in between the hot spring and canyon, on the Rio Dulce, Livingston, Rio Dulce 18002, Guatemala
Location: Guatemala > Izabal Department > Rio Dulce > Livingston
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 10 B&Bs / Inns in Livingston
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Roundhouse is a social place with family-style dinners. We're located right on the beautiful Rio Dulce in the rain forest. The canyon, caves and hot springs are all nearby. Swim, hike, kayak, sunbathe or just take a hammock and watch the river life. We've got a great book exchange and enough hammocks to read. Or if you're up for a drink: there is also a well-stocked (Tequila!) bar. ... more   less 
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
The Round House Guatemala/Livingston

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