First off, let me preface this review by saying that I am a complete jerk for waiting a whole three months to review this wonderful place. I probably deserve to be banned for life (but please don't - I don't think I could survive without this place and these people in my life!). It has become my happy place where I go in my mind when the Canadian winter just becomes toooo much.
We arrived at the Round House with the intention of staying one night before continuing on to Guatemala City. Before we knew it, "just one more day" turned into more than a week! Staying here was by far the highlight of our time in Guatemala, and we are now in the process of planning a return trip exclusively for the purpose of spending more time in this paradise.
The minute you step off the boat, you know you are in a special place. The gardens on the property are absolutely spectacular, and the buildings are truly incredible. It is immediately apparent that a lot of love, care, and attention to detail went into the construction of the Round House - the beautiful woodwork will astound you every morning when you wake (to the songs of birds and insects, of course). The beds are comfortable, the rooms clean, and the common areas perfect for lounging around and talking with fellow travelers, the awesome owners, and the steady stream of locals and expats who stop in for a beer and some conversation. And the bathrooms, the bathrooms! I haven't seen better in a hostel/guesthouse. After years of traveling I've become accustomed to run-down cement shower stalls, so it was a lovely surprise to find shared bathroom/shower facilities that were clean, well-maintained, and comfortable.
The atmosphere at the Round House is unique and special. It is hard to describe, really. It manages to be relaxing and peaceful without the stuffiness of some "retreat" hotels, while at the same time being a fun, laid-back, social place without the traditional fall-down-the-stairs-and-puke-on-your-bunk type of environment found at a lot of "party" hostels. If you're an adventurous and social traveler who loves a good beer, good conversation, and a beautiful setting, then this is your mecca. If you're really lucky, Chris will have some of his excellent home-brews on hand for your visit - if he doesn't drink them all before they reach maturity, that is! (One of these days, Chris, one of these days).
By far the highlight of our visit was the atmosphere that the wonderful owners Dani and Chris have cultivated. Their kindness and hospitality will make your trip! From the day we arrived we felt less like guests and more like we were visiting good friends. Chris and Dani are well liked and respected in the Rio Dulce community, as evidenced by the steady stream of friends who pop by for a beer and some smiles. They're a great source of local knowledge/information on the river, and are the kind of people you could sit and chat with all day (which we did). Lots of laughs, great conversation, Bob Dylan sing-alongs, and hilariously intense poker games were had by all!
If you're in the Rio Dulce/Livingston area, do yourself a favor and stop by the Round House. Even if you don't spend the night, swing by for a beer and one of their yummy sandwiches! You won't regret it.
Thanks for everything, Chris and Dani. Looking forward to seeing you guys again someday!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Roundhouse is a social place with family-style dinners. We're located right on the beautiful Rio Dulce in the rain forest. The canyon, caves and hot springs are all nearby. Swim, hike, kayak, sunbathe or just take a hammock and watch the river life. We've got a great book exchange and enough hammocks to read. Or if you're up for a drink: there is also a well-stocked (Tequila!) bar. ... more less
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