Santiago ’s nicest accommodations are at the charming Posada de Santiago (tel. 7721-7366, www.posadadesantiago.com , $15 p/p to $45 d) with a variety of room types in comfortable stone cabins featuring tasteful Guatemalan decor. It has adjusted well to the recent influx of missionaries and volunteer groups, offering rooms for 4–5 people at budget prices. The lodge is run by Dave Glanville, a gracious American couple who have lived in Santiago for years. Ironically, the hotel originally opened just weeks before the installation of the defunct local military garrison. It was closed for 10 years and did not reopen until June of 1991.
If you’re interested in the hotel’s history be sure to ask for Dave’s “Smart Aleck Interview,” which should answer most of your questions. The restaurant here is one of the lake’s finest. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at set times throughout the day. Dinner costs $8–21 and includes Cajun, Asian, and continental cuisine. All of the sauces, breads, pastries, and ice cream served here are homemade and the Glanvilles grow, process, and roast their own coffee. Activities include fishing or kayaking on the lake, Thai or deep tissue massages, lounging by the pool in a hammock overlooking the lake, and swimming. There is wireless Internet in the lodge.
Just outside of town, another nice place to stay is Hotel and Restaurant Bambú (tel. 7721-7333, www.ecobambu.com , $55–65 d) with two bungalows, eight rooms, and a villa housed in pretty thatched-roof stone cottages with fantastic lake and volcano views fronting beautifully landscaped grounds. The rooms are cheerful and bright with beautiful Guatemalan furnishings. There are a very nice swimming pool, a private dock, and kayaks available for rent at $5 an hour. The restaurant serves tasty international and Spanish cuisine. Be sure to take a taxi or tuk-tuk if you decide to go into town at night, as robberies have been reported on the isolated paths from the hotel into town after dark.
A decent budget choice is Hotel Chi-Nim-Ya (turn left at the first intersection after coming up from the dock, tel. 7721-7131, $10–13 d) with 22 simple and clean concrete-floored rooms built around a central courtyard with shared or private bathroom.
Another budget choice is Hotel Tzutuhil (four blocks up the hill from the dock, then left, tel. 7721-7174, $8–11 d) with basic, clean rooms housed in a five-story building.
For lake fish, snacks, sandwiches, and light fare, a good choice is Restaurante El Pescador (two blocks up the street from the dock, tel. 7721-7147, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun.).