our first visit to Guatemala

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by MichaelJM on February 14, 2013

I’m beginning to think that people intentionally try to spook us as we go on our international voyages. At the start of our holiday to Guatemala and Belize we’d been told that Guatemala City was going to be a nightmare as we’d require an armed guard to progress from the airport to our first holiday destination of Antigua. Now based upon our evening arrival to the City, and no other research, I have to record that this potential capital to the country of Guatemala seemed no more dangerous than anywhere else that we’ve travelled through.

We were collected by our driver, a charming guy who estimated that the transfer to Antigua would take approximately 50 minutes. The short walk through the airport car-park was uneventful and soon we were sat in the comfort of his vehicle and heading out of the airport.

First impressions? Well we could have been in one of many USA towns with McDonalds, Burger King, Domino Pizza, Wendy’s, and Taco Bars flanking the brightly lit strip from the airport. There was sign of affluence as car-show rooms littered the route and several corporate have clearly made the City home for one of their international offices.

Finally we left the smooth surface of the dual carriage way that had led us from the airport to the current Guatemalan capital of Antigua. Our driver proudly stated that these bumpy cobbled roads dated back to the 17th and 18th century, but that didn’t make the final stages of our journey any less uncomfortable as we were backs were buffeted from side to side. The journey was short as we glided to a halt outside of an entrance that opened directly on to the road side. This was to be home for the next few nights – the Hotel Meson de Maria.
The Hotel Meson de Maria is a small "rustic" hotel on the main street from Guatemala City through Antigua, but the street is one way and due to the irregularity of the road surface traffic only trundles along at a fairly slow pace. It certainly shouldn’t put you off staying there as the hotel is perfectly placed for the centre of town.

Our room was on the second floor and overlooked an open courtyard from a shared balcony with a couple of other rooms. Not that the sharing issue should be off-putting because almost everyone staying at the hotel is maximising their sight-seeing opportunities.

The room was real comfortable with two queen sized beds and although the lighting was a little on the meagre side (we needed the central lights, the bedside light and the dressing table lamp on to ensure that everything in the room was visible) we got by. The shower was an interesting experience with water gushing from a ceramic "overflow" pipe but once we’d got over the fact that this was a little unconventional we were happy to enjoy the experience. Our room was described as deluxe and I don’t reckon I’d have wanted any fewer facilities. But quaint and rustic is good to me and it beats staying in the large corporate hotels which results in you feeling that you could be anywhere in the world.

Our booking came with breakfast. Either "breakfast tycipe" (two eggs, refried beans, and goats cheese) or pancakes and fruit. Although we did break the mould and have pancakes and eggs. There was plenty of coffee (tea if you preferred), orange juice and warm bread rolls.

In the afternoon the hotel had coffee "on tap" or more welcome iced strawberry water or iced lemon water. Just the job after a hard day’s sight-seeing.

One day, when we got back from our tour of the town, the room had not been cleaned. We mentioned it to reception and they couldn't apologize enough. Within minutes staff were on hand tidying the room, making up beds and replacing towels. Indeed before they'd finished we were handed a letter from the manager (or he could be the owner) apologizing profusely and offering us a dinner for two at the restaurant opposite the hotel. Now with that response you can see that they really want to make sure that their service in top quality.

Overall the hotel offered a great place to stay in this UNESCO protected town.
Hotel El Meson de Maria
3a Calle Poniente #8
Antigua, Guatemala


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