2a. Avenida Norte #11, Antigua, Guatemala
El Convento opened its doors in February 2008 and added a new upscale alternative to this popular colonial city. Newly constructed, its replication of a 15th century convent is remarkable.
Located on a quiet side street, the 14–suite hotel faces the Convent of Las Capuchinas, only four blocks from Antigua's central plaza. El Convento's stone facade belies its luxurious inner sanctuary, a blending of Guatemalan and colonial décor. Heavy dark wooden doors open to flickering candles on a wooden ledge. Around the corner, a grand living room with high ceilings features elegant sofas, a fireplace, a stocked library, and a laptop corner, with classical music adding to the drama of the lavishly decorated formal room. Across from it lies the Sitz Restaurant and bar. White linen tablecloths, fresh flowers and cobalt–blue glasses grace tables. Attentive service and appetizing international as well as regional cuisine are complimented with wines from around the world.
Native plants, flowers and stones fill the courtyard, along with a rectangular lap pool. A terracotta–tiled walkway extends from the entry to the last suite. Shadowed alcoves reveal sitting areas with cushion pillows and a lion–spouting fountain. At night, candles and subdued lighting illuminate the whole path.
A Guatemalan artist carved intricate designs onto the doors of some guest rooms. All the suites have conical fireplaces and duvets on comfortable mattresses. The long list of amenities includes and electronic safe, soft robes, a towel heater, L'Occitane toiletries, a flat screen TV, and music that can be piped into the bedroom and bath. Special touches include a complimentary laptop upon request and an iPod dock. Maids leave a surprise ceramic animal on the pillow during turndown service. If you request room service, don't be surprised if a brown–robed friar monk greets you at your door.
Six junior suites, six suites and two master suites have similar views. Wooden doors face the inner courtyard while glass doors open to a private outside garden. The junior suite differs from the others by not having a separate 6–foot tiled bathtub or Jacuzzi on the terrace. Most have roomy glass shower stalls with an oversized rain showerhead. Oddly, the closet only has shelves except in the master suite, which has hangars. Each of the suites is fairly dark except for the natural light from their outdoor terrace.
The suites are the best choice if you are a couple traveling alone. For larger accommodations, the master suites have a circular wrought iron staircase that winds up to a loft with double beds, bathroom, lounge chairs and all the amenities found downstairs except a fireplace.
The hotel can arrange excursions, but be sure to take a self–guided tour of the Convent de Las Capuchinas, across the street. In the summer of 2008, the Piedra Negras Spa will open. In addition, El Convento's flat roof will become an open outdoor area with a bar and café.
Friendly yet professional service is exceptional at this luxury boutique hotel, which compares favorably to its longer–established competitors in town. If you are looking for a tranquil setting, international cuisine, exceptional service, and 21st century amenities, consider El Convento Boutique Hotel.
Web Address: www.elconventoantigua.com
Total Number of Rooms: 14
Published rates: $90 to $300
Review and photos by Sandra Kennedy