Honduras Lodging Primer
No matter what your budget, no matter what your comfort needs, you'll find something in Honduras to suit your taste. There's plenty of variety among accommodation here, whether you're looking for a tried-and-tested international chain, a boutique property, local hospitality at a family-run inn, or a cheap, clean hostel. And here's the good news: Lodging in Honduras is affordable, too, and nobody has been priced out of the market in any region of the country. (Many countries can't make that claim these days.) Even five-star luxury in the big cities won't cost you an arm and a leg. The downside is that once you get out of the Copán-Roatán orbit, sheer numbers of lodgings are smaller than what you might expect. (Tegucigalpa has a surprisingly small number of decent hotels for a capital city of one million people.) Volunteer groups frequently book blocks of rooms in midpriced hotels, too, even in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. That makes reservations a good idea no matter where you plan to stay, no matter what day of the week, no matter what time of the year.
Hotel isn't the only tag you'll find on accommodation in Honduras: hospedaje, hostal, pensión, posada, casa de huespedes, and just casa de (something) also denominate somewhere to stay. Unfortunately, there are no hard-and-fast rules as to what each name means, and no entity truly regulates such matters, though hotels and posadas tend to be higher-end places. With that in mind, our own descriptive labels follow:
Chain and Chainlike Hotels
Messrs. Hilton, Marriott, and Clarion and their friends have all set up shop in Honduras, but only with big-city outlets in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Without fail, all provide the same dependable service you've come to expect from their properties back home. And most provide a few Honduran touches, freeing you from that "Wow! This could be a hotel in Chicago" feeling that sometimes envelopes you when you walk into a chain property anywhere in the world. Not to cast aspersions on that approach, for that's exactly what many travelers look for: the reassurance of familiar surroundings. Other properties in the two big cities—the Honduras Maya in Tegucigalpa and the Gran Hotel Sula and Copantl in San Pedro Sula, for example—don't belong to any group of hotels, but provide the same types and level of service you'd find at a Marriott or Hilton. Chain or not, all these hotels discount rates on weekends when their business-travel clientele have left.
Large- and medium-size cities in Honduras all have midrange hotels that market themselves to hombres de negocios, or businessmen. (Honduras really does have a growing number of female business travelers, and all are welcome, of course. These places just need to update the outmoded text in their brochures.) They may lack a concierge and pool, but all are clean and comfortable—admittedly, sometimes a bit institutional—and have the basics that a business traveler is looking for at a fraction of the price the big guys charge. They're perfectly acceptable for leisure travelers, too. Since these properties, like their chain counterparts, focus on business travelers, many discount their rates on the weekend as well.
Honduras truly shines in its selection of smaller, locally owned inns with 5 to 15 rooms each. In many smaller destinations, large midrange hotels tend to be impersonal, institutional setups aimed at passing business travelers. If you're looking for local flavor, consider a smaller inn or bed-and-breakfast. Especially in the highlands, 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. You don't always have to sacrifice hot water or room service for a touch of culture. You'll find plenty of guesthouses and boutique hotels that combine colonial class with modern amenities.
The Bay Islands and the Caribbean are the province of Honduras's only true resorts, with Tela on the mainland slated for major resort development in coming years. Isla del Tigre, the country's Pacific beach destination, has a couple of much smaller versions of such lodgings, but mention of the term resort usually brings the north coast and the islands to mind. Even then, Honduras has few such properties, and doesn't begin to count the resort population of Mexico or even Costa Rica. Do your homework: a few of these lodgings cater to specific clientele, in particular the dive resorts in the Bay Islands. All are welcome at any property, of course, but if you're not a diver yourself, you may tire of the dinnertime conversation about the manta rays everybody spotted that day. Diving or not, the resorts that are here provide plenty of attentive service.
Lodges—both eco- and not-quite-so—are what you'll encounter in Lago de Yojoa, the Mosquitía, Pico Bonito National Park, and certain sections of the Caribbean lowlands. Some pamper you with amazing luxury unexpected in such isolated locations. Others are more back-to-nature rustic. Some are off the beaten path and do require a bit of choreography to get to, so plan on staying at least a couple of nights to offset travel time and logistics. All do provide you with the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature, and if you're a guest at one of these places, join in the evening conversation, usually over dinner served family style, about your wildlife sightings that day. If you're seriously interested in sustainable accommodation, it pays to do your research. The eco prefix is bandied about very loosely here. Sometimes the term will be used simply to describe a property in a rural or jungle location, rather than somewhere that is truly ecologically friendly.
Hostels and Budget Hotels
Honduras 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 Honduran hostels is young, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, and can often inform you about Spanish classes and excursions. 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 $10 range, loosening the purse strings and spending $30 to $40—still a bargain by any standard—buys much more comfort in terms of private room and bath.