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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?

If you go to Antigua, there are many lovely hotels which don't look like much from the outside because you just see the walls, but when you enter the courtyards it's a different story. The Casa Santo Domingo is the best in town, but we saw several which looked very nice, and are not as pricey.

Antigua is a city for any budget and you don't have to stay at a 5-star to appreciate the character and beauty of the town. It's small enough where the views are great anywhere you stay in the center. No skyscrapers here - it's a UNESCO Heritage Site and no buildings are over 2 stories in order to preserve the character of the city, and also in case of earthquakes. It's just about 20 miles from Guatemala City, so if you don't want the hassle of staying in the capital, this is an ideal getaway. Love it, would definitely go back.

Previous weeks:

Ahhh...Fifi in the islands now. You gotta go to St. Kitts next time!
#1 Psyche (Homepage) on 2008-05-01 10:24 (Reply)
Oooops. I got excited when I saw the title. I probably should have read the post first to see that it was Antigua, Guatemala :-(
#2 Psyche (Homepage) on 2008-05-01 10:27 (Reply)
Definitely the Beatnik Necklace-it has class!
#3 Debra Boyd on 2008-05-01 15:28 (Reply)
I'm a new reader - but I must say - I stayed at this hotel years ago...I was in 10th grade maybe (say maybe 14 years or so) and it is just what you say. So gorgeous!!! It was absolutely amazing for a hotel because of the whole old monastery thing with ruins inside the walls. Plus hiking the volcano just a few miles away and attending the festival of flower petals (or something like that - it's been 14 yrs after all) made Antigua one of my favorite places ever.
#4 Andrea (Homepage) on 2008-05-03 16:32 (Reply)
Hey Psyche - you are REALLY psychic.
Fifi WAS in the islands recently and an article will follow shortly, and it was very close to the other Antigua as well!
Thanks for reading the article.
#5 Fifi LaMode on 2008-05-09 18:02 (Reply)
Andrea, read article 5 in the series, "Saints, Sinners & Redemption." I write about the Holy Week festival. Isn't it a magic place? It's nice to know the hotel has kept its high standards over the years. Thanks for your feedback.
#6 Fifi LaMode on 2008-05-09 18:05 (Reply)
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