I press the button and the dark wood door swings open revealing inside a secret garden of beauty – citrus trees fill an open-air courtyard with a sweet scent as water bubbles from a mosaic-encrusted fountain and looming trees drift gently in the wind.
I round the corner to check in and the kind receptionist matches the bright smile on my face with an luminous one of her own as she hands me a key and walks me to my room.
We make our way to my guest room which has its own name fit for a palace, Residencia Capuchinas. I place the key in the lock and push open the dark wood doors, revealing a luxurious room worthy of its prestigious name in every regard.
History and Luxury at San Rafael Hotel in Antigua
San Rafael Hotel is located in a historical building in the heart of Antigua. The hotel opened in 2013 following a three-year project to restore the structure back to its original form as a grand, traditional colonial home. Though the architecture may hearken back to the days when Antigua was Guatemala’s capital city, the interior is quite contemporary, giving it the feel of a modern, yet historical, palace.
San Rafael Hotel has just seven guest rooms, making it a quiet and intimate place to spend a vacation.
Residencia Capuchinas King Junior Suite
The Residencia Capuchinas guest room is a King Junior Suite. With high-ceilings, cream-colored walls with blue accents, art works and an antique crystal chandelier, I felt like a royal immediately upon entering the room.
The room’s king-size, four-poster bed was heavenly to sleep on. I think my time in Guatemala would have honestly been worth it if I had just remained in bed all day, but alas I had sights to see like Pacaya Volcano and Lake Atitlan.
The room also comes with a sitting area that includes a contemporary upholstered chair and wood-carved coffee table. This space was perfect for me to write in my journal at night and relax while I finished planning some last-minute details of my three day trip in Guatemala.
The sitting area also contained a large, full-length mirror so I could check to make sure I was looking good before heading to dinner at La Fonda de la Calle Real.
One of my favorite features of the room was its stone-faced fireplace. Although it was quite warm in Antigua during my stay, I couldn’t resist lighting a fire one night. Falling asleep to the gentle sound of crackling embers only added to the charm of my stay.
I also really enjoyed the dark wood windows and doors that I could open during the day to look out upon the courtyard and let in a fresh breeze.
The shower was equally heavenly. A skylight sits above a tile sunken shower, flooding the space with bright sunlight. The shower pressure here was far superior to any other hotel I’ve stayed at in Central America, which was a welcome surprise. In a separate room there are two sinks and a large mirror that make for a great space to prepare for the day.
The Common Spaces
The spaces outside my room were just as cozy and welcoming. As I was only in Guatemala for three days my itinerary was jam packed, but I left wishing I had dedicated a whole day to just lounging on the property grounds!
The courtyard is home to a variety of plant life including Italian cypresses, ficus trees and citrus. Surrounding the courtyard are several nooks with chairs, sofas and tables where guests can enjoy their complimentary traditional Guatemalan breakfast, read and relax. These spaces let in a lot of sunlight and the seating is quite comfortable. The hotel also has high speed Wifi throughout the property so you can work, browse or upload photos to Instagram while enjoying the common spaces.
The back of the property was especially stunning for me. Just look at those pink flowers!
An Unbeatable Location
When it comes to location, you can’t do much better than Hotel San Rafael. The hotel is located just around the corner from Antigua’s most recognizable feature, Santa Catalina Arch. Built in the 17th century, this vibrant yellow arch once served as a passageway from a convent to a school, allowing nuns to pass without entering the street.
Antigua is a small city that is easily explored by foot, and the hotel is centrally located just a few blocks away from the destination’s main attractions, including Parque Central, the Palace of the Captains-General and the restaurants and shops of Fifth Avenue.
As a woman traveling alone in Antigua I was surprised by how safe I felt wandering the streets by day and night. I haven’t felt so comfortable exploring a place solo since my time in Europe, and in fact I felt safer in Guatemala than I have traveling alone in parts of Costa Rica. That Hotel San Rafael is located so close to the city’s action and has strict security at night made me feel even safer.
Stay at Hotel San Rafael
Note: I was provided with a complimentary stay at Hotel San Rafael. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.