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“Beautiful hotel, but you will PAY for your stay!”
Review of Hotel Atitlan

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Hotel Atitlan
Ranked #2 of 29 Hotels in Panajachel
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 31 July 2010

When you first walk through the hotel, it is absolutely beautiful. The hotel is surrounded by gardens with some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen, and Lake Aititlan is gorgeous, but it soon becomes clear that the hotel takes itself too seriously, and NOTHING is included in your per night fee.

We stayed at this hotel for 3 nights, and having travelled a bit around Guatemala and stayed at a few other hotels, it is clear that Hotel Atitlan is the prettiest place we stayed at, but in terms of value and hospitality, it was the worst. The place was practically empty when we were there, but the front desk staff acted like they had no time for us. The restuarant staff, though, are awesome, and the food was good.

Everything costs extra- the food at the hotel is expensive, but since the hotel is not actually in Panajachel, but rather a 5-10 minute tuk tuk ride away (not really a big deal, but it makes it hard to explore when it gets dark as you probably shouldn't walk to or from the hotel at night), it makes it hard to eat out more. You also need to pay extra for wifi, though we figured out their password system and only paid for one day. We aware of the tax/tip policy in Guatemala- tax is 22%, and then a 10% service charge is usually added to your bill. You are still expected to tip your server (even though the 10% fee is charged, including at restaurants) another 10% or more. Nothing is all that expensive, but it adds up, so just be aware.

The rooms are pretty, but the beds aren't the best. We were on the first floor, and had a little stream right outside our door. It was really nice. The pool and jacuzzi are very nice. There are animals running around everywhere (cats, dogs, bunnies- all very friendly) and birds in cages around the grounds (their wings are clipped- kinda sad actually). There's the Atitlan Reserve on the same lane as the hotel, and they have really fun zipling. The zip lining is a must do if you're there, and you can walk there. A quick note: if you do takes guides or do the ziplining, tip your guides directly as oposed to leaving your "propina" in the marked box- the company takes those tips and only give the guides a portion, even though they're the ones sweating with you in the jungle. If you give the tip directly to your guide, they actually get the money. Just putting that out there.

Panajachel is awesome- the people are friendly. We did boat tours (haggle the price)- the boat people are a lot of fun, and good resources in the town. There are a lot of vendors, but a simple 'no gracias' will do the trick.

Overall, the hotel's beauty made up for its stinginess. I probably wouldn't stay there again, but we had a great time!

  • Stayed: July 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank snigalis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 31 May 2010

On arrival we were amazed at the wonderful views of the lake and volcanos along with the spectacular gardens complete with humming birds and scarlet macaws. Unfortunatly the rooms didn't live up to the surroundings, while containing antique furniture the rooms were very basic. The curtains were see through keeping no light out in the mornings, there was no sound proofing resulting in the dawn chorus waking us up, if we had managed to get to sleep on the breeze block beds. Seriously these were the most uncomfortable beds we have ever encountered and resulted in us curtailing our stay after 3 nights as we had had no rest or relaxation. The rooms were not 4 star standard and in my view need radical upgrading to match the beauty of the surroundings. Due to the position of the hotel a tuk tuk is needed to get to town and back at an extra cost or a walk along a main road with no pavement, not suitable for those with mobility difficulties or a pushchair.

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank derwent10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 May 2010

This place has beautiful views and basic, well kept rooms. The gardens are truly, truly, spectacular.

You want to use the internet? Wait, that's an additional $10 US. You want breakfast? That's an additional $15 U.S. You want to make a local call? That's more money. Want to ride down the hill? More money. Want a boat to dock at the hotels dock? That's $40 U.S. I could go on, but you get the idea. Because the hotel is the biggest dog in town, it gets away with charging what it wants, when it wants.

The service, doesn't fare much better. The hotel's staff is uniformly efficiently detached from the guests. They are warm to each other, but they treat guests with an indifference that is rare within the Guatemalan culture. (Note, I am a native spanish speaker and was traveling with a Guatemalan family.) Each staff member we encountered responded as if they were being put-upon when they were asked for the simplest tasks. Some didn't even respond to hellos.

For the record, the hotel was practically empty as we went during the off season.

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank alxfdz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 May 2010

Would give this hotel about 3 ½ stars. Stayed here for 2 nights with my wife in late April as part of our Guatemala tour, read many reviews on tripadvisor, so had an idea of what to expect.

Hate to bore with individual random stories, but upon checking in, we walked into our room on the first floor to find an empty pill (medicine) capsule on the bed, and two empty soda cans in two different cabinet drawers in the room. Didn't leave a wonderful first impression. Mentioned it to the staff up front, and they were quick to move us to a different room. Would definitely recommend staying on the second or third floor, as they provide a better view of the lake and gardens, and have private balconies as opposed to the first floor which has inferior views and much less privacy. We were in room 211 which had a great un-obstructed view of the lake and volcanoes.

Several other things bothered us about the experience at the hotel. First of all, there are no safes in the rooms, so no where to place your valuables. Hotel provides them at the front desk, but who wants to walk all the way to the front desk to hand over their wallet, money, passports, etc. Seems like this would be a pretty standard thing. To make things worse, the hotel does not provide any “do not disturb” signs to place on the door. Since there is no safe, I would like to place a sign in order to keep staff out if my valuables are scattered around, especially since we were in and out of the room. Good thing however is that I spoke to the front desk, and they were able to create (print out) a do not disturb sign which they soon placed on our door.

There is a “no outside food or drinks” policy at the hotel which is a little annoying, especially since everything at the hotel is a little pricey. Of course we did not obey this rule, and snuck in liquor bottles and sodas which we purchased in town at a fraction of the price. Had to hide the liquor in empty water bottles which made me feel like a teenage boy sneaking alcohol from my father's liquor cabinet. This is probably why we originally found the empty soda cans in the empty drawers on check-in. No doubt a previous guest was trying to save a little money on a cold drink.

The hotel does not supply any bottled drinking water in the rooms. They claim that their tap water is treated and safe to drink, but who will travel to Guatemala and trust drinking tap water in a hotel room? I don't usually drink tap water in the states where I know it is generally safe. Also no mini-bars in the rooms, so not even an option to have a beverage unless you order room service or travel to the lobby..

Bathrooms were basic but decent, but the plumbing was horrible!! The shower floor would immediately flood upon turning on the water, and require much time to drain. Nothing worse than showering in ankle level “funk”water. Would have to wait about a half an hour after my wife showers in order for it to drain, then had to rinse it down before I can use it. Many problems as well with toilet flushing. It seems however that plumping is not the strongest aspect of Guatemalan hotels, as we experienced similar problems at our previous hotel in Antigua.

Hotel room had two full sized beds with metal bedposts, beds very very hard and uncomfortable, and pillows were horrible!! Wife and I found ourselves sleeping in different beds because they were so small and hard, that it was very difficult to get comfortable (especially given how hot and stuffy it gets). Not sure if they provided rooms with single larger beds, but they did not give the impression that they did, and after already having moved once, did not care initially to go through the hassle of moving again. May be expensive to replace all the beds, but at least provide more comfortable pillows!! The TV was old, small, but functional, no matter though since we didn't watch much on the trip. Would have been very difficult to watch if we wanted since the beds have high metal posts which obstruct any potential view of the tv screen.

The room would also get pretty warm and stuffy at times, especially at night, so we were very disappointed in the fact that there was no AC or ceiling fans. Not even a plug in fan which made a world of difference at the small B&B that we stayed at in Antigua.

Internet was available at ten dollars/day for wi-fi, or $1/30 min in small business center. Do not expect them to provide it for free seeing as everything else came at a charge, but would definitely be a nice gesture to guests paying much money to stay there.

The town of Panajachel was a short ways away, but would be a long, uncomfortable walk, so usually requires transportation. Was told by staff that they can only provide a shuttle at 40 quetzales per trip, and that taxi's would be 60-80 Q's for the short trip, which is a little annoying given that a tuk tuk ride back is always consistently only 10 Q's per person. I believe the hotel should provide free, or at least discounted transport to/from town, especially since it is so close and they have a shuttle van. At least scheduled shuttle transports at given times as other places usually do. It seems that they try and do anything for you to keep your money within the confines of the resort.

There was also some sort of wedding party going on in the haul on Saturday night which was very loud and kept us up until well after two AM that night. This combined with the uncomfortable beds did not provide for much sleep which was frustrating since we had an early morning lake excursion the next day. Had read a previous review about a similar problem and did not think this would bother me, but I was mistaken.

The front desk staff were unenthusiastic, but at least effective, as most of our needs and requests were appropriately addressed. The restaurant and pool side service was great however and very friendly.

Breakfast was not included in the cost of the room which was very unusual. This was the only hotel (out of six in our 17 day trip through three countries) which did not provide at least a continental breakfast. Last year my wife and I traveled on a trip around the world for two months, and never did we stay in a hotel or resort which did not provide at least a continental breakfast. I thought that was something that only happens in hotels in the US, but again I guess I was mistaken.

On a positive note however, as written in many reviews, the gardens and floors of the premises were stunning and unrivaled. Gardens are perfectly manicured, several species of bird on the premises such as parrots, peacocks, doves, toucans, etc..A shame that they do not light up the garden at night as it would look absolutely amazing!! Not sure if this is a money saving decision or just lack of thought. Did not get to see the nature reserve as we ran out of time, but read it was really nice.

Loved the pool area and the infinite jacuzzi, both of which overlooked the lake. Pool side terrace dining which was also great. Had lunch by the pool which was very good. I had a BLT with plenty of bacon, wife had the cheeseburger which she states she was pleasantly surprised. Fries were also good. Our one year anniversary date fell on an evening while at the hotel, I inquired about a special, more romantic setting for our dinner, staff at restaurant was very confused about the request (surprising since this option was offered in the hotel info guide in the room), but front desk was more understanding and able to arrange something. Wife had the sea bass with pesto sauce which was really good. I had the surf and turf option. The shrimp was not very good at all, but the filet mignon that came with it was outstanding!! Very tender, perfectly cooked, and just melted in my mouth.

All in all, beautiful garden, unrivaled view of the lake/volcanoes, and nice pool scene. Would probably return as the setting is possibly enough to counter many of the other discomforts, some of which may seem trivial. We are not very picky travelers, and I don't believe I have ever written a more critical review, but it seems that most of these things are such easy fixes and would turn this hotel into such a special place. Problem is that management likely knows they have something rather unique and are turning a blind eye. I will definitely consider other options when returning to Atitlan in the future

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank johnabed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 April 2010

There's so much that so's right about this hotel. The views, the perfect grounds (a horticultural dazzle), the flowers, the parrots - and did I mention the views? Service was excellent, although we were lucky to be there just before a very large group arrived. Only negative based on one evening we dined there - the food wasn't up to much, although perhaps we were just unlucky. Breakfasts were great. The pool, if you can briefly tear yourself away from the surrounding lake and mountains, is a delightfully warm dipping zone. Recommend it - we'd go back.

  • Stayed: February 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank aiae
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 April 2010

Hotel Atitlan has it all: phenomenal gardens with walkways, beautiful pool and hot tub overlooking the lake, very good restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, amusing tropical birds, and lovely, quiet rooms with balconies, providing marvelous views of the lake. I stayed there 2 nights in late March with my 14 year old son. Having visited Panajachel last year, I wanted to stay at a quieter, scenic hotel close to the Nature Reserve, so that my son could easily get to the zip-line. It is about one-mile from town.

We were very pleased on all accounts. The staff was kind and very helpful to us, making several calls over 2 days to Continental Airlines to find out where my son’s missing suitcase was and making the calls needed to have it delivered to our next hotel in Antigua. I saw the front desk spending considerable time helping another guest who had his wallet and other valuables stolen at a market. While we mainly ate in various restaurants in Panajachel, we had one dinner at the hotel that was delicious with good and friendly service. Plus, if buying at markets is not your style or even if you enjoy haggling (like I do), there is an excellent gift shop on premises with very high quality crafts.

Yes, this hotel is much more expensive than most in the area. But it is worth it, and a bargain by US standards.

  • Stayed: March 2010, travelled with family
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Thank OntheGo630
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 March 2010

I traveled to Panajachel in Feb 2010 with a group of donors who had supported projects sponsored by my nonprofit organization. We spent 4 nights at the Hotel Atitlan, with day excursions to different towns on the Lake (Santiago Atitlan and San Juan) and to the market at Chichicastanengo. I had been warned that hotels in Guatemala always looked better on their websites than they actually were, but I'd say the opposite was true in the case of Hotel Atitlan. The gardens were stunning and peaceful, and the view was outstanding. Loved the colorful, chatty parrots in the garden. Each room faces the Lake, and I think all rooms have a small balcony; it was a great place to hang out with a good book. Rooms were spacious and clean. The food in the restaurant was good; nothing too exotic or adventurous, but simple and well prepared. I would definitely return to the Hotel Atitlan!

  • Stayed: February 2010, travelled on business
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Thank ochibell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Atitlan

Address: Finca San Buenaventura | Solola Lago de Atitlan, Panajachel 07010, Guatemala
Region: Guatemala > Western Highlands > Solola Department > Lake Atitlan > Panajachel
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 29 Hotels in Panajachel
Price Range: £128 - £138 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Atitlan 3.5*
Number of rooms: 60
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nominated by Travel + Leisure; "World's Best Awards 2011".This charming hacienda-style hotel is a formerworking coffee farm situated on the shores of Lake Atitlan, with a picture perfect view of volcanoes San Pedro, Toliman and Atitlan. Highlighting numerous unique Guatemalan traditions with its colorful and vibrant interior, each room is individually decorated with hand-woven fabrics and carpets, handcrafted furniture, paintings and tile floors. All rooms have private balconies and breathtaking views of the lake. The swimming pool and Jacuzzi overlook the entire lake and the hotel's magnificent wedding, tropical and rose gardens. The Botanical Gardens of Hotel Atitlan are a true garden lover's paradise. Bird-watching is a popular pastime within its botanical gardens. Enjoy a cocktail or a refreshing tea from the selection of tea infusions by the fire in the hotel's bar, and dine in an elegant setting where you will savor regional and international cuisine. You can't miss this beautiful Hotel!!! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Atitlan Hotel Panajachel
Hotel Atitlan Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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