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Savvy Travel: Where to Stay in Antigua

Is it a museum, monastery or hotel? The Budget Babe's International Travel Advisor Fifi LaMode reviews the Casa Santo Domingo in Antigua, Guatemala. —TBB

by Fifi LaMode
The Casa Santo Domingo in Antigua is a most unusual place. It's built along the ruins of a colonial monastery and in addition to being a 5 star hotel, the best in Antigua, it houses several museums. From the outside you can't imagine its grandeur, but once you enter through the gates, be prepared for surprises.

The hotel itself is outstanding - the rooms have fireplaces, balconies overlooking wonderfully colorful gardens (more toucans and parrots!), and along the passages are neat pieces of antique statuary and furniture. Very old-worldish. The ruins of the monastery are a museum in themselves, but they also house statues, paintings and other Spanish colonial artifacts. There are also a couple of art museums on the grounds, and a very small pharmacy museum. All are free to hotel guests, and non-guests pay a very reasonable fee.

The ambiance in the hotel is superb and the staff is dressed in these monk-like cream-colored outfits: loose linen pants with matching hooded tops and a brooch/clasp in front. Very elegant. The hotel also has the usual amenities: pool, restaurants, bar, etc., but more of an open air environment - you access everything by walking through the gardens. The restaurant serving the huge buffet breakfast is out of this world - made-to-order omelets, waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, local specialties, fresh fruit and bread, everything your heart desires in the morning, accompanied by birds singing and a gentle breeze. The rooms are spacious and the bathrooms are grand. What more can a person ask for after a long day's touring?