Set on a former coffee plantation, this once-middling motel in an overcrowded tourist stop has restyled itself as the place to stay in Panajachel—which is, well, still an overcrowded tourist stop. But “Pana” is also the access point for all Lake Atitlan—a cristalline volcanic lake in the Guatemalan highlands, surrounded by villages accessible only by water taxi—and the Hotel Atitlan is the absolute best starting point for a sojourn in this magical destination. Its lakeside grounds are planted with lush English-style gardens of roses, hibiscus, 25 colors of buganvillea, and some 250 species of birds, including peacocks and chatty parrots. The 140 distinctive rooms are cheerful in reds and oranges, with painted hearths, carved-wood headboards, and textiles handmade by crafters from the area’s various indigenous tribes. The infinity Jacuzzi on the water's edge has killer views of the twin volcanic peaks across the lake.
Room to Book:
Junior Suites have ample bathrooms, fireplaces with painted hearths, lake views, and a quiet distance from the groups that tour the hotel's gardens.
This is one gift shop you shouldn't avoid: it carries indigenous art pieces collected from regional crafts markets.