Exactly the vacation we wanted - KimKim delivered, above and beyond.
Guatemala | Jul 7 - Jul 12, 2022

J
James K.
Seattle, WA | Reviewed on Aug 15, 2022

We had exactly the vacation we wanted - a great mix of new experiences and natural beauty. We were always just far enough outside our comfort zone to keep us fully present and engaged. Chris did a fantastic job of understanding what we were after. Starting with a stay at the Camino Real was perfect: international luxury, poolside dining and opulence. Then, a hotel that doubles as a working horseracing track and some time in Chiquimula, a town that feels like one huge, endlessly bustling... read more

We had exactly the vacation we wanted - a great mix of new experiences and natural beauty. We were always just far enough outside our comfort zone to keep us fully present and engaged. Chris did a fantastic job of understanding what we were after. Starting with a stay at the Camino Real was perfect: international luxury, poolside dining and opulence. Then, a hotel that doubles as a working horseracing track and some time in Chiquimula, a town that feels like one huge, endlessly bustling market. Next, a boutique garden hotel in the heart of Antigua, so we could soak up the architecture and history of the old capital. Finally, a couple of days in a cliffside hotel dangling over Lake Atitlan, maybe the most beautiful location in Central America. Our drivers and guides were warm, helpful and fun, and great with our kids. We are so, so happy that we booked this trip through KimKim.

Hotel Reviews
The Westin Camino Real, Guatemala
Guatemala City

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to stay in a top-tier international hotel "back in the day," this is the place. Everything they do is casual, confident luxury. The pool is perfect and perfectly maintained, because of course it is. You can get huge portions of excellent food poolside, or in your room, or in the restaurant because why wouldn't you? The beds are unbelievably comfortable and quiet. The staff is friendly and helpful. Things are ready when they are supposed to be, or sooner. They have a spare of whatever you lost. They know how to help you find the place you can't remember the name of. They are the Westin Camino Real, they've been doing this since people flew in on PanAm 707s. It's the only way they know how to do things: perfectly.

Authenticity & Character
"Authenticity" is about being an old-style international hotel, though. It's not the most "authentic" place in terms of feeling like you are in Guatemala.
Location
Wide array of shopping and dining places in walking distance. Luckily, in recent years, it's become much, much safer to be a pedestrian in Guatemala City.
Staff
Every single interaction with staff was friendly and pleasant.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Finca Los Laureles
Jerico

We really enjoyed Finca Los Laureles, but I think some aspects suffered from how empty it was at the time. I think there were, maybe, two other rooms occupied during our stay. That was probably why there were very few employees on site, too. Coupled with the sprawling, rustic layout of this hotel, it added up to something of a ghost-town experience. We wandered around a lot, wondering where things were, or if we were really supposed to be in the places we ended up. We had an odd but wonderful dinner on, I think, the back porch of a restaurant but never figured out where the front entrance was. All in all: lots of wonderful moments with some confusing times, too. I suspect that this would have been a very solid 5-star review if we had stayed here during a busier season.

Authenticity & Character
There's definitely a lot of character to Los Laureles. The decor is something like "horse paddock" crossed with "Route 66 roadside attraction." There's a small zoo. The grounds cover god knows how many acres, but the rooms directly face the pool. It's odd and charming and memorable.
Location
Remote to Guatemala City, but not too far from Chiquimula. It a beautiful, quiet part of the country. You'll see plenty of birds and other wildlife, but not many people.
Staff
The people we dealt with were wonderful. We had only one issue: there weren't many staff members, and we often couldn't find someone. That really seemed to be due to it being the lowest part of the off-season, so not really unreasonable.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Would like to give 4 1/2 stars here. The only issue in terms of "comfort" was that a lack of staff combined with a lack of signage meant that we really struggled to find things, and wandered aimlessly around the place at times.
Hotel San Jorge
Antigua

So pretty, in such a perfect spot. Great little restaurant, friendly staff. So, why not 5 stars? The heat. Antigua gets pretty hot, and stays warm pretty late into the evening. There are lot of bugs, particularly mosquitos around. So, some hotels have AC. Some have fans. The rest of the places at least have screens on the windows, or mosquito netting, or both. The Hotel San Jorge has no AC, or fans (even in the bathrooms), or screens or netting. Also, they keep bright lights on all night in the courtyard, and are in a fairly noisy part of town. That means trying to sleep in stifling heat, or trying to sleep while coated in bug spray with something over your eyes against the light and, if possible, ear plugs. So, the rest of our experience was lovely, but we got very little actual sleep - which is a key part of what you generally want from a hotel.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Add screens to the rooms, look into dimming or shielding courtyard lights. For a few hundred bucks, you could increase customer comfort dramatically. I can understand not adding AC, or fans, but just putting screens on the windows is not going to ruin the charm of your hotel.
Casa del Mundo
Lake Atitlán

It's hard to really separate "just the hotel" from the rest of the experience. Lake Atitlan is always going to be the star of any visit here. The lake, the surrounding volcanos, the trails and villages around it...it's just so endlessly beautiful. Casa del Mundo does a great job of understanding this. The layout is vertical and shallow, so that wherever you go, you are looking at the lake. There's not a lot of "building," other than the restaurant and front desk. There are patios and benches everywhere between and above the rooms. There's no AC, but there are windows with screens and cross-ventilation so you can have your windows open and hear the water lapping at the rocks. They enforce a 10pm quiet hour, which helps make that work for everyone. Be aware, this maybe isn't for everyone: you can only get here by (a smallish) boat, and there are a LOT of stairs in getting up from the lake to the hotel. If you aren't able to face 60-70 stairs on a regular basis, or you like to travel with 3-4 suitcases, you might not enjoy this place nearly as much.

Authenticity & Character
The hotel gives you some of this, but if you really want 5-stars-worth of authenticity, you need to get out and around to the surrounding villages, starting with Panajachel.
Location
Would give 20 stars if possible.
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
So many cute, cool places to just sit and look at the lake, or even dive off the rocks into the water. It's not a "super soft pillows' kind of comfort, more of a "good for the soul" kind.
Local specialist: Chris Gwinner
Chris
Chris Gwinner
Local specialist in Antigua, Guatemala | Reviewed on Aug 15, 2022

Thank you for taking the time to leave us your review Jason! I'm glad your family was able to visit Guatemala during these times and enjoy your vacation with our local team. Be sure to spread the word to your friends and family, the more people know about Guatemala the better. Hope to see you back again soon, cheers!