Guatemala - A Vintage Experience

During my travels, I've stayed at lots of hotels.  Fancy hotels like the Mandarin Oriental in Thailand and the Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa in Zambia.  And dumps like a western theme hostel in New Zealand and what appeared to be a "pay by the hour" place in in Russia.   Most of the hotels and Airbnbs where I stay are average and many are forgettable.   

One of my all-time favorite stays was at the Hotel Pan American in Guatemala City.  It's not fancy, but it was the perfect place to spend five nights in Guatemala.

I have to admit, I was nervous about traveling to Guatemala in 2016.   It is not a country that has a reputation for being safe or friendly for tourists.   But reputations are often wrong.   I now consider Guatemala as one of the top places I've been.

The Pan American hotel is on a corner, very near both the National Palace and the Cathedral.  It doesn't look like much from the outside.  But inside this vintage Art-Deco hotel, it is unassuming and charming.  In many ways, I felt like I was stepping back in time as I entered.   The clerk greeted us warmly and welcomed us to the hotel.   

The lobby, pictured below, is also the dining room.   We checked in and made our way to our room on the second floor.   

We had a corner room with a wraparound balcony looking out over the streets below.  The room was decorated with carved wood lattice and included built-in drawers and a closet.   

We arrived on April 30th.  The next morning, May 1st was May Day, also knows an International Workers Day.   Outside, a parade was happening.   We had the best seats, right on our balcony.

We ate a delicious breakfast in the lobby every morning.  The staff were amazing friendly.  On Sunday morning, it was an event.  They had live musicians and a buffet with traditional Guatemalan food.

While there was a lot to like about the hotel, there was also a lot to like about Guatemala.  I was there to produce an episode of "Peruanos en el Mundo."  I've linked the video below.   The trip to the coffee plantation was amazing.  And certainly, one of the highlights of the trip was meeting Laly Casas, a Peruvian with an infectious laugh and bubbly personality.   


Unfortunately, this vintage experience is no more.  According to Trip Advisor,  the Pan American hotel is "temporarily closed until 11/25/2021."  I'm not sure if that is due to the pandemic or other reasons.   I noticed the recent online reviews of the hotel are mixed.

Dates of Travel

  • May, 2016

Places Visited

  • Guatemala City
  • Antigua




This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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