My wife and I spent three nights at La Gran Francia in February, as part of a one-week visit to Nicaragua.
The rooms are simply decorated but comfortable, with tile floors and dark wood furniture in keeping with the Spanish colonial atmosphere of the hotel as a whole. The air conditioning was very effective in the heat of the day. Our room, the "Suite del Duque", had a minibar containing a variety of soft drinks, beer and several types of the local Flor de Caña rum, all at fair prices. The bathrooms have beautiful hand-painted sinks and good water pressure, and everything was kept very clean during our stay. Although our room was on the ground floor along the street, the thick walls ensured that we were not disturbed by noise.
The staff was friendly and helpful not only during our visit, but also before we arrived. I corresponded with the tour desk via e-mail in advance of our trip, and they put together a wonderful customized itinerary for us, all at extremely reasonable prices (more on that below). The tour staff spoke excellent English, while the staff at the reception desk and in the restaurant spoke more limited English--it was enough for basic communication, but it helped to know some Spanish too. However, all of the staff really went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and enjoy our visit to Nicaragua.
The dining areas are in the beautifully restored building just across the street from the reception area and guest rooms. Breakfast, included in the price of the room, is served alongside a pleasant plant-filled courtyard, and the buffet included Nicaraguan specialities such as gallo pinto (red beans and rice), maduros (sweet plantains) and queso frito (fried cheese) in addition to the usual North American breakfast foods.
Lunch was available in the same room as breakfast, and during the afternoon, light snacks were served on the balcony upstairs with a view of the Parque Central, Granada's main plaza. This was one of our favorite parts of La Gran Francia, and Granada: drinking beer and munching on tostones (fried plantains) and queso frito while watching the world go by, with the clip-clop of horse-drawn buggies in the background.
The more formal dinner restaurant, in an air conditioned room on the ground level, is El Arcángel. While the food wasn't bad, we found it a bit heavy and formal for laid-back Granada, and in some ways we preferred the nearby restaurants where we ate dinner on our other two nights: El Zaguán served delicious steaks and a particularly memorable house-made chorizo, and Doña Conchi's served Spanish food in a romantic candlelit setting.
The hotel's tour desk arranged airport transfers as well as private tours and other activities for our whole stay. Marvin, our guide, and Rene, our driver, met us at Managua airport in the hotel's minivan, drove us the hour or so to Granada, and took us on a fascinating tour of the area's many attractions over the next three days. We visited the historic churches and other buildings of Granada (both on foot and in a horse-drawn buggy), a charming colonial city. We hiked around Masaya and Mombacho volcanoes, took the exhilarating "canopy tour" at Mombacho (which involves zipping along cables from tree to tree), visited craft villages, took a boat tour of the "Isletas" on Lake Cocibolca, and on Valentine's Day spent a relaxing afternoon at the Norome Resort by Apoyo lagoon, including lunch and massages. La Gran Francia arranged every last detail and included it all in one extremely fair and reasonable package price at check-out.
This place is really a tremendous value. Part of me wants it to remain a well-kept secret so it doesn't become too expensive, but the other part of me feels obligated to spread the word about this wonderful gem of a hotel. If your time and budget allow, I also recommend a visit to Morgan's Rock, an ecolodge near San Juan del Sur where we spent the next four days of our trip. However, a few days at La Gran Francia are a wonderful introduction to this beautiful, safe and welcoming country.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located right off the main square of the historical colonial city of Granada, La Gran Francia is a splendid ancestral building whose existence historians argue dates back to the years immediately following the founding of Granada, in 1524. This architectural jewel was restored during the decade of the 1990's, recovering the majesty and splendor of its heyday and today houses our hotel restaurant, bars and banquet hall facilities. In two distinct and centric settings, La Gran Francia Colonial Hotel offers its guests a total of 35 air-conditioned rooms, with all modern comforts and amenities. At La Gran Francia Colonial Hotel, you will be able to enjoy the best of Nicaraguan hospitality and the rustic elegance of colonial Granada. La Gran Francia has been recommended by Conde Nast Traveller and Samantha Brown from The Discovery Channel, among others. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- La Gran Francia Granada
- La Gran Francia Hotel Granada