Casa Palopó on Lake Atitlán has a solar-heated pool, among other things. (Photo: Al Argueta)
By Chris Bunting
Some people go to lunch and wind up with spinach in their teeth — others walk away with a hotel. Well-to-do Guatemalan native Claudia Bosch found herself in the latter camp back in 2010 when she was grabbing a bite one lazy afternoon with the then-owner of Casa Palopó. He offhandedly mentioned he was selling her favorite micro-boutique hotel — so, boom, she cut a check.
Rooms like Casa Palopó’s Santa Catarina Master Suite are heavy on the arty flourishes. (Photo: Al Argueta)
High up in the lush hills surrounding Santa Catarina Palopó village, about a two hour’s drive west from Guatemala City (assuming roads/people are behaving), sits 1,000-foot-deep Lake Atitlán, the starlet of the Highlands. Imagine it as a giant horse’s head — Casa Palopó is the eyeball on its northeastern shore.
The hotel’s hosting a wellness week Oct. 12-19. Over the summer, they just added a full-service, Balinese-styled, 130-square-foot (one at a time, please!) spa right next to its restaurant, 6.8 Palopó. Not to be outdone, the solar-heated pool area was just renovated with new mosaic tiling, a wooden deck addition, backsplash and more space to lay out. They’re embroiled in a veritable space race vying to pleasure you more!
The town of Santiago Atitlán. (Photo: Handout)
I’ll give you three: Toliman, Atitlán, and San Pedro. That’s the troika of 10,000-foot-high volcanoes your panoramic view ain’t skimping on.
The hotel’s chock full of charmingly weird curio from round the globe — from Asian sculptures of acrobats on elephants, to paintings by chubby chaser extraordinaire Botero on just about every wall, to a life-size confessional booth in the lobby (you may need it after all your fun and games in Palopó’s Italian luxury beds).
The Toliman Suite in the hotel villas. (Photo: Al Argueta)
At night this place can be downright muerto (and the rooms are TV-less) — you’re going to want to get out and about. We suggest the live music-hosting, pizza-baking, boozy blue drink-pouring Circus Bar in nearby Panajachel, only 10 minutes away.
The seven bedrooms in the main building are fancy enough, but kick it up a notch inside the towering fortressed villa behind it, which looks down upon them (figuratively and literally). You might need a sherpa to get you up its steep 150 steps, but your reward is two-private bedrooms, an infinity pool, Jacuzzi, gazebo and a patio that doubles as an outdoor spa when you order up a full body massage that’ll leave you marinating in L’Occitane sauce.
Some “luxury” hotels only have one helipad — pfft, how pedestrian. Palopó has two, should you and your mates choose to whirlybird in, Miss Saigon-style.
From $140; casapalopo.com
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