There are several motel-style places lining the main highway just outside of Retalhuleu where Guatemalan families like to stop and visit while en route from chillier locales in the highlands. These places tend to get a bit noisy on weekends, but during the week they tend to be quite silent.
Hotel La Colonia (at Km. 178, Carretera al Pacífico, tel. 7772-2048 or 2426-3894) is an old standby with spotless, comfortable, air-conditioned rooms. There is a swimming pool with a pleasant restaurant and bar. Rooms in duplex bungalows go for $50 d on weekends and $32 d during the week. You can use the pool for the day at a cost of $1.25.
At the intersection where roads split off toward Champerico and Quetzaltenango is Hotel Siboney (tel. 7772-2174 or 7772-2176, $40 d) with pleasant rooms centered around two swimming pools. All have air-conditioning, firm mattresses, cable TV, phone, hot water, and a desk. Rooms are in older and newer sections, so ask to see a room first. It costs $2 to swim here.
Also outside of town are the excellent Hostales del IRTRA.
In the heart of town, the most atmospheric of Retalhuleu’s accommodations can be found at the family-run Hostal Casa Santa María (4a Calle 4-23 Zona 1, tel. 5202-8180 or 5205-1132, www.hostalcasasantamaria.com), where eight tastefully decorated rooms in a colonial home come with private hot-water bath, cable TV, wireless Internet, air-conditioning, and/or ceiling fan. Room rates are $25 for a double with fan or $35 d with fan and air- conditioning. There is a nice breakfast room and a café/bar with Internet and book exchange. The young Guatemalan brother-and-sister team who own it also run Reuxtreme, Retalhuleu’s finest outfitter, which operates weekend shuttles to Guatemala City and Antigua, among other things.
Another fine place to lay your head is the friendly Posada de Don José (5a Calle 3-67 Zona 1, tel. 7771-0180 or 7771-0841, donjose [at] terra [dot] com [dot] gt, $42–55 d), in an attractive two-story building centered around a small swimming pool and courtyard. Standard rooms are spotless and have good beds, cable TV, air-conditioning, ceiling fan, phone, and private hot-water bath. The larger suites have a sitting area and some nice furniture. The hotel’s restaurant, managed by Don Josée’s wife, serves some of the town’s tastiest food. The Mexican consulate is also based here.
Nearby, at the corner of 5a Avenida and 5a Calle, is the smaller Anexo Posada de Don José (tel. 7771-4182), run by the same owners, with pleasant rooms for $25 d, breakfast included.
The well-furnished rooms in Hotel Astor (tel. 7771-0475, $37 d), are set in a colonial building and centered around a pretty garden courtyard and swimming pool. All rooms have air-conditioning, ceiling fan, and cable TV in addition to private hot-water bath. There is a restaurant in the lobby and a small sports bar.
For budget accommodations, try Hotel Modelo (3a Avenida “A” 5-14 Zona 1, tel. 7771-0256), where rooms with ceiling fan and cable TV go for $15 d.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com