You’ll find plenty of accommodations along El Remate ’s main drag beside the northbound Tikal road as well as along the dirt road diverting west that hugs the lakeshore.
From the northbound Tikal road, the first place you’ll come across (on the right) is the Hostal y Camping El Paraíso (tel. 4077-8538, elparaisodejuan [at] hotmail [dot] com), where you can camp for $2 or stay in a rustic dorm room overlooking the lake for $4. Bathrooms and showers are shared, but there is mosquito netting and hammocks for lounging. Guests have use of the kitchen.
The next place over is Mirador del Duende (tel. 5527-0859, miradordelduende [at] gmail [dot] com), charging $5 for accommodations in seven open-air concrete campsites with thin mattresses and mosquito netting. There’s a restaurant serving vegetarian food, a chill-out room, and a place to store valuables. You can also camp or sleep in a hammock for just under $3.
The next place is the colorful, offbeat, and laid-back Hotel Sak Luk (tel. 5494-5925, tikalsakluk [at] hotmail [dot] com), where four- or five-person dorms with lake views and mosquito netting start at $3 per person. Rooms with private bath, mosquito netting, and lake view are available for $13 d. Hammocks go for $2 and you can camp here for the same price. There is a restaurant serving Italian food and you can have your laundry done here. Guests can also use the kitchen to cook their own meals. Language courses and volunteer opportunities are also available.
Another cheapie along the Tikal road is the friendly Hotel y Restaurant Sun Breeze (tel. 7928-8044 or 5898-2665), where clean, simple rooms with mosquito netting and fan go for $10 d in shared-bath accommodations or $13 d with private bathroom. The owner is expanding to include a dormitory. The helpful staff can do your laundry and also arrange reasonably priced transport or guided tours to area attractions such as Tikal  and Yaxhá .
On the dirt road running alongside the Lake Petén Itzá shore toward Cerro Cahuí Biotope are a number of very pleasant budget accommodations set far off from the noise of the main highway. Hostal Casa Mobego (tel. 5909-6999) is a popular place, also known as Casa Roja. Rooms with shared bath are housed in attractive stone and wood cottages; beds on a concrete base with squishy foam mattress and mosquito netting cost $5 per person. There is a nicely decorated main house where breakfast is served ($5) and dinner ($7) can be arranged with a bit of notice. There’s also a book exchange, kayaks for rent, and the staff can arrange minibus transportation anywhere you may need to go.
Farther down the road as you approach the entrance to Cerro Cahuí is Hotel y Restaurante Mom Ami (tel. 7928-8413 or 7928-8480, www.hotelmonami.com ), with a variety of accommodations from a six-bed dormitory with shared bath at $5 per person to bungalows with private hot-water bath costing $16–33 d. The lodge is owned by ecologist Santiago Billy, a pioneer of Petén’s environmental movement who has fought for many years for the preservation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve .
There are several excellent values in this price range. Along the main road, you’ll find Posada Ixchel (tel. 7928-8475), where simple but clean rooms in wooden cabins with shared bath go for $11 d. All have fans; most have mosquito netting and porches with chairs for lounging.
Down the street and around the corner you’ll find Hostal Hermano Pedro (tel. 2261-4181, www.hhpedro.com ), a charming little place with a friendly Guatemalan owner. Rustically comfortable wooden bedrooms with high ceilings, hot water, and private bath cost $12 per person, including breakfast. Rooms have patios with chairs and hammocks and there is a small restaurant serving three meals a day. On the ground floor there are several piletas, or small pools, for soaking among the tastefully decorated garden festooned with orchids. There is an additional sitting room with hammocks where you can catch the breezes off the lake.
Along the lakeside road, adjacent to the Cerro Cahuí preserve, is the Hotel Jardín Maya (tel. 5730-7433), a family-run guesthouse where three rooms with private bath, mosquito netting, and decks with hammocks go for $20 d. There is a small café for guests serving drinks and light meals. The Guatemalan family that owns the lodge is very welcoming and knowledgeable about the area.
On the main Flores-Tikal highway, midway through town you’ll find El Muelle (Km. 30, tel. 5514-9785, www.hotelyrestauranteelmuelle.com , $30–40 d) along with its namesake dock on the lake. The comfortable rooms are housed in an airy wooden building and there’s a nice swimming pool to cool off in.
Along the lakeside road toward Cerro Cahuí, at the junction with the road leading to Tikal, is La Casa de Don David (tel. 7928-8469 or 5306-2190, www.lacasadedondavid.com ), a highly recommended establishment owned by a native Floridian transplanted to Guatemala in the late 1970s. His friendly wife and daughter help run the lodge, consisting of 15 rooms with private hot-water bath set amid nicely landscaped grounds.
Eleven of the rooms have air-conditioning; all have fans. Rates range from $32 d for slightly noisier rooms with fan under the restaurant to $52 d for quieter rooms with air-conditioning set farther back from the main house. All prices include one free meal a day. The restaurant serves delicious international dishes ranging $4–8 for lunch or dinner.
The friendly staff can help you book transportation to virtually anywhere and can answer your travel questions. You can also snag discounted tickets for area canopy tours at the attractive gift shop in the main lobby. The hotel’s very informative website is well worth checking out before visiting Petén.
Near the entrance to the Biotopo Cerro Cahui preserve, my favorite of El Remate’s hotels is Posada del Cerro (tel. 5376-8722, www.posadadelcerro.com , $40–56 d). It’s an excellent value and a great place to get away from it all. The comfortably rustic rooms lack nothing in style; some feature cool stonework, while others have angled thatch-roof ceilings. There are also more modern apartments with full kitchens available. There’s a small restaurant where guests can enjoy meals or simply hang out under the palapa roof.
Charming La Mansión del Pájaro Serpiente (tel. 7928-8498, $44) is another fine choice. Owned by a Guatemalan-American family, the lodge sits along the main road to Tikal at the northbound entrance to El Remate. Set on a hillside overlooking the lake are 11 stylish rooms housed in stone and thatched-roof exteriors with Guatemalan furnishings and stone, tile, and wood accents; they have fan and private hot-water bath inside. It has a restaurant serving three meals a day and a swimming pool amid the tropical landscape.
Straight out of a West Texas cowboy’s dream is Palomino Ranch Hotel (tel. 7928-8419 or 2474-0758, www.hotelpalominoranch.com , $50 d), with quirky antiques and cool Western-inspired decor that’s tastefully done. There’s even an old jukebox. Rooms are housed in a large hacienda-style building centered round a swimming pool and have hot water and a/c. The lodge organizes horseback-riding trips to area attractions and there is a daily horse show in the large horse pen. The lodge is on the Cerro Cahuí road about 1 km from the junction with the main Tikal-bound highway.
Also in this price range is the Hotel Gringo Perdido (tel. 2334-2305, www.hotelgringoperdido.com , $70–90 d), which started several years ago as a budget accommodation but has gradually worked its way into pricier domains. Rates include a tasty four-course dinner and breakfast. The lodge’s setting is right on the lakeshore within the boundaries of the Cerro Cahuí preserve. Rooms have private bath and are semiopen with roll-up blinds. You can also camp here for $5 per person.
Lake Petén Itzá is not without a large resort. The Camino Real Tikal (tel. 7926-0204/09, www.caminoreal.com.gt , $120 d) is a 72-room complex that has been in operation for over 15 years. A planned expansion may soon make it twice as large. The Camino Real has all the comforts you would expect from an international resort chain. The modern rooms are housed in concrete structures topped with thatched-roof exterior. There are two restaurants, a bar, coffee shop, and swimming pool. Recreational activities available to guests include sailing, kayaking, and sailboarding. A large ship does lake tours and transfers from the Mundo Maya International airport can be arranged before arrival via a free shuttle service. Discounted accommodation packages are often available by calling directly or booking via a travel agency.
For Petén’s ultimate in style and luxury, head to fabulous La Lancha (tel. 7928-8331, www.coppolaresorts.com ), farther west along the lakeshore in the village of Jobompiche. Part of movie director Francis Ford Coppola’s impressive portfolio of properties, including two other hotels in Belize, La Lancha is Petén’s best-kept secret. Its 10 comfortable rooms are housed in lake-view casitas ($150–210 d) or rainforest casitas ($120–175 d, depending on season). All rooms have exquisite Guatemalan fabrics and Balinese hardwood furniture. The rooms’ wooden decks are graced with hammocks where you can lounge the day away watching the sky’s reflection on placid Lake Petén Itzá or order drinks from the bar via your in-room “shell phone.” Rates include a continental breakfast and the restaurant serves gourmet Guatemalan dishes for lunch and dinner for about $20 per person.
There is a swimming pool, but if you wish to cool off in the lake, a short downhill walk leads to the water’s edge. Kayaks and mountain bikes are available for exploring at your leisure and you can book day trips to Tikal. Other activities include sightseeing in El Remate and Flores, fishing on the lake, and bird-watching at Cerro Cahuí.