ANTIGUA, Guatemala -- Antigua has many claims to fame: as the first
Spanish settlement in Guatemala in the 15th century, later as the
resplendent capital of all Central America, and, jumping to 1979,
as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Antigua also has had its down times as well, particularly in
1733 when a severe earthquake caused a great deal of damage to its
churches and convents, government buildings and private villas.
Spain ordered the capital moved to Guatemala City, 25 miles
away, leaving Antigua to slumber in its graceful ruins until its
rediscovery by historians and architecture buffs in the 1920s.
Nowadays, the beautiful colonial town has undergone an extensive
and well-supervised restoration and renaissance, and buying up and
living in historical mansions has become all the rage with wealthy
Guatemalans as well as upscale North Americans and Europeans.
While most restored colonial homes serve as family residences,
the good news for the rest of us is the conversion of a bevy of
traditional mansions to bed-and-breakfasts.
Included among those new properties are some real
Travel agents should consider this quartet of colonial casas for
a more distinguished clientele; all rates at the inns include
The inn crowd
• Posada del Angel: Opened six years ago, this colonial inn is
the creation of American-born Mary Sue Morris.
Morris has fashioned five elegant suites, each with a large
private bath, wood-burning fireplace and remote control cable
Four suites (named after colors) are on the ground floor just a
few steps from the lap pool, and the big Rose master suite is
upstairs; President Clinton stayed here in a room with a terrace
and views of three towering volcanoes.
The inn has a salon full of magazines, cards and games, and a
well-stocked library. The service is caring, and this is a truly
angelic place to be. Double room rates are $150; the master suite
is priced at $200.
• Casa de los Suenos: The name means "House of Dreams," and this
impressive colonial mansion has six elegant rooms, decorated with
local furnishings and handwoven bedspreads, as well one junior
suite and a master suite.
Private bath, cable TV and direct-dial phone are standard
amenities. Public rooms are large and welcoming, and breakfast is
served by the pool. Double room rates range from $85 to $95.
• Casa de los Cantaros: Built in 1597 around a lush patio, the
inn has three guest rooms, each with private bath.
The room to reserve is on the second floor above the gardens,
featuring a view of Volcano Agua, although rooftop terraces welcome
Although the guest rooms are not particularly spacious, the
public rooms, full of colonial antiques, are. Double room rates
range from $79 to $104.
• Casa Capuchinas: A comfortable, colonial-style house with
rooms decorated in local handicrafts and plants, the inn has five
spacious guest rooms equipped with TV, direct phone and modern
The terraces and gardens are lovely, and the location is
historically fitting -- in front of the ruins of the convent of Las
The double room rate is $85, and here's a thought for families
and friends -- take the whole hotel for $325 a day.
The owners occupy one colonial house well worth visiting, the
Casa Popenoe, a 17th century grand mansion restored by an American
couple in the 1930s.
Old floor tiles, wooden ceilings and period furniture fill the
rooms of the building, which is laid out around flowering patios
and several fountains. Visiting hours are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Inn accommodations usually are not included in tour operator
packages but are available on request.
A Ladatco Tours brand called Pampered Adventures features
boutique hotels and inns on its seven-night tour to Guatemala City,
Lake Atitlan and Antigua.
The inclusive program also includes a private car and driver.
The cost is about $2,400.
Shopping in Antigua is a major attraction, and Posada del
Angel's Morris shares with her guests these top-flight boutiques,
especially those featuring home accessories.
All listed here are opened daily, except as noted:
• Cereia "Evelia del Pinal": A candle shop founded in the last
century and turned into a decorative candle factory in 1956. At 6A
Calle Poniente, No. 29. (Closed Sundays.)
• Colibri: Good selection and quality of placemats, napkins and
clothing. At 4A Calle Oriente, No. 3.
• Textura: Rugs, hammocks, pillows and fabrics. At 5A Avenida
Norte No. 38.
• Loom Tree-El Telar: Bed covers, tablecloths, napkins, rugs and
pillows. At 5A Avenida Sur No. 7.
• Nim P'ot: Excellent collection of old huipiles (traditional,
embroidered blouses) and native weavings.
In the old Cofino Garage on 5th Avenida near the Arch of Santa
• Casa de Artes: A museum-like store with items such as old
weaving and musical instruments.
For additional information on Guatemala, visit the Web at www.guatemalatravel.com.gt.