Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Mexico & Central America (
-   -   Guatemala City Intercon or Antigua? (

NoFlyZone Aug 27th, 2010 05:42 AM

Guatemala City Intercon or Antigua?
We are heading to Belize in February and will be adding on a few nights in Guatemala. Three of those will be near Guatemala City. Yes, I know it's too short but it's an introduction to that part of the country, an area we've never visited. The plan is to take one of the two full days in country to visit Antigua and then on the second (a Sunday) head to Chichi and the Lake.

Through the IHC Ambassador's Club I can get a super deal at the Guatemala City Intercon: one night free and a free upgrade to a suite. My thoughts are the luxury would be nice and we would have close access to really good restaurants, even though our days would be elsewhere. [Our plans bring us no where near another Intercon for a few years so I am not concerned using the offer in GC.]

So I am wondering if that would be a mistake and whether we should base ourselves in Antigua instead. Cost considerations seem to be irrelevant in this inexpensive country. Thoughts?

qwovadis Aug 27th, 2010 07:08 AM

Have stayed at the IC it is a great Metro hotel

in a big city shopping/food area...ok just a big city hotel. a beautiful Colonial town

a far more touristic beautiful place than GC

better acess to Atitlan/ChiChi...

cuter hotels in prettier areas than the IC

which I use mainly for flight nights although Camino Real a little prettier for upscale

in that area...

Have fun,

hopefulist Aug 27th, 2010 09:41 AM

That's an easy one for me - Antigua! The last thing I want when I visit Guatemala (7 or 8 visits and counting) is to be in an Americanized resort where I can't really tell what country I'm in - could be the US, could be Spain...

Antigua is a United Nations World Heritage Site with a great tourist infrastructure. Cobbled streets, bright painted buildings, nice cafés, good shopping, great availability of tours to neighboring villages and points beyond. Part of the reason to stay there is to be able to wander around in the evening, listening to live music and people watching or early in the day.

Truth be told, Antigua is not my favorite part of the country because it doesn't feel "real" to me - pretty dressed up and ready for visitors day after day. That said, I have a beloved hotel and stop there a few nights on many of my visits to Guatemala (already have reservations for next summer). Staying there and day tripping to Chichi and the lake would give you a better taste of the country than staying in GC and barely visiting there imo.

Chichi is pretty amazing. Don't miss the enormous produce market in the commercial building - the very best part for me. You might want to consider a private shuttle so you can get going earlier in the morning. By 10 or 11 all the other day trippers will be there and it's a zoo - sooooo much nicer to beat the crowd and watch as the venders set up, share breakfast, and commence their rituals on the church steps. Here are links to 2 tour agencies I've used with great success in the past:

For what it's worth, if you're actually wanting to shop, the shopping is way better in Panajachel imo than in Chichi. It's great in Nim Pot near the arch in Antigua, too, though you'll generally pay less in Panajachel.

Lots of photos from multiple visits below; Chichi, the lake, and Antigua photos in the 80's, '07, and '09 collections plus lake photos in '10. There are a couple of Belize collections, too, and blog and detailed travelogue links are on the main pages.

Have a great visit, whatever you decide! Happy trails!

baldone Aug 27th, 2010 09:03 PM

I get what hopeful is saying about Antigua being dressed up for tourists. But so are restored Mayan ruins. Don't miss Antigua.

NoFlyZone Aug 28th, 2010 05:22 AM

Thanks for the info, all. With additional reading it looks like we will simply skip Guatemala City and head right into Antigua. Sorry, Intercon. I wish we had more than just 3 nights, though!

Now on to the most difficult task of selecting accommodations. One of those love-hate tasks. Unfortunately, as we will be there in high(er) season and most places have but a few rooms, it needs to get done sooner rather than later. Suggestions for this would be appreciated, too...

Vttraveler Aug 28th, 2010 07:00 AM

what is your price range?

hopefulist Aug 28th, 2010 11:21 AM

Here are my favorites - $35-$52/double/night depending on the room. Both are clean, safe, have small, cute rooms, helpful owners, free purfied water and internet, great neighborhood, steps away from arguably the best coffee house in Antigua (Fernando's) just and 1/2 (CC) to 1 block (PLM) from the La Merced church, 3 blocks from the arch and Nim Pot, and an easy walk to the market and the central park. I have a feeling you'll want to spend more money but I'm not tempted to do that in Antigua baecause these places are so great. Happy trails!

Vttraveler Aug 28th, 2010 02:36 PM

Here is a thread with some more expensive options

NoFlyZone Aug 31st, 2010 07:01 AM

Thanks for the info everyone. I think the lodgings have been narrowed down to Hotel Aurora (in the suite only), Casa Encantada, Meson Panza Verde and Villa de Antano.

Now the really hard part!

smcgown Sep 1st, 2010 09:57 PM

I always stay at the Aurora. Plain, simple, absolutely spotless, very large rooms,nice patio with seating areas, good breakfast, great location & helpful friendly staff.

NoFlyZone Sep 7th, 2010 07:23 AM

For the record we went with Casa Encantada for a myriad of reasons. A nice mix of charm, location, cost and they can serve a drink.

(and were there not a couple of comments from some travel agent in this thread a few days ago?)

santamonica Sep 9th, 2010 12:03 PM

We stayed at meson panza verde. It was really beautiful. Four of us in one of the suites with two bedrooms. Lovely lap pool. Great restaurant, with a cuban jazz band when we were there. Two days for antigua, chichi and the lake. Wow.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:13 PM.