Good news: Lodging in Guatemala is affordable. Even five-star luxury doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Hotel isn't the only tag you'll find on accommodation: hospedaje, hostal, pensión, casa de huespedes, and posada also mean someplace to stay. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules as to what each name means, though hotels and posadas tend to be higher-end places.
The big international chains are all in Guatemala City, but almost nowhere to be found outside the capital. Another group of hotels around the country may belong to a locally owned chain whose name you don't recognize, or may be single entities, but mimic the style and services of the big guys. Such accommodations have rooms and facilities equal to those back home, but usually lack atmosphere compared to other locally owned options. Their facilities and services make them popular with business travelers.
Guatemala truly shines in its selection of smaller, locally owned inns with 5-15 rooms each, and this is the type of accommodation most visitors associate with the country. (This is almost the only type of lodging found in Antigua.) Many are housed in colonial-era buildings, and those that are newly constructed make every effort to echo that same style with rooms arranged around a courtyard or garden. Antigua and Guatemala City have five-star guesthouses and boutique hotels that combine colonial class with modern amenities. At many Lake Atitlán hotels you get comfort and culture in utter isolation: hammocks with stunning views of the lake beat television sets every time.
Lodges—both eco- and not-quite-so—are the thing in the Petén, near Tikal, and in remote sections of the Verapaces. Some are incredibly luxurious, others more back-to-nature; all are way off the beaten path, so plan on staying a few nights to offset travel time. If you're interested in sustainable accommodation, it pays to do your research. The eco term is used flexibly, sometimes simply to describe a property in a rural or jungle location, rather than a place that is truly ecologically friendly.
Guatemala has a good selection of cheap shared accommodation. Budget lodging terminology varies: hostel, hostal, and la casa de are commonplace names, and some places are just listed as a hotel or pensión. Staff in most Guatemalan hostels can often inform you about Spanish classes and excursions—many have in-house travel agencies. Hostels proper do tend to cater to party animals, so if you're traveling with kids, a family-run hotel might be quieter. While the country still offers a bed for the night in the $5 range, loosening the purse strings and spending $30-$40—still a bargain by any standard—buys much more comfort in terms of private room and bath.
Antigua and some of the smaller communities around Lake Atitlán offer you the option of a housekeeping holiday. Most are quite comfortable and run in the range of $1,000-$1,500 per week. (Few will touch rentals less than one week.) Expect most of the same standards as back home, but don't count on potable water or Internet access.
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