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El Retiro Lodge

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Hostelz.com's Review
Guidebooks describe El Retiro Lodge as the type of place that you can lose yourself in, and for once the cliche might just be true. Right on the river with cool thatched dorms/rooms and a laid-back but busy bar and restaurant, it's a lot of fun and easy to connect with other travelers.

The Location

El Retiro is right on the river outside of Lanquin, has lots of space and is well maintained. Through the lodge you can organise direct shuttles from Antigua or Flores. Otherwise there are frequent local buses from Coban. If you get dropped off in the middle of Lanquin, it's down the road to Cahabon. Apparently it's only a ten-minute walk but with bags, heat, and hills, it feels a lot longer. When you can see the yellow building at the top of the hill you are almost there. There are also tuc-tuc taxis around, if you would prefer. There are two eating options on the property and a couple of little shops nearby, but for more variety you would have to walk to town.

Rooms and Bathrooms

There are a number of options, from hammocks and camping to private rooms. All the rooms are thatched, on stilts, and scattered around the property. The lofts have two beds and are above the dorms. The dorms have about three bunks in them and are a little cramped but are perfectly adequate. Most of the bungalows have a balcony with hammocks to chill in for a while and gaze down at the river.

The bathrooms are fine and pretty clean -- the showers are meant to have hot water but it isn't always the case. The toilets are all of the flush variety except for those down by the restaurant, where you have to throw in some lime powder when you are done.

Common Spaces

There is tons of space at El Retiro and you can just as easily spend time chatting to other travelers as find a little space for yourself. The reception area has a few computers for internet (they can be a little slow). You pay once for your entire stay -- it's a nice idea, except that it means there is no time limit and you could easily end up waiting for a computer for quite a while. They also offer good tours to Semuc Champey and the Lanquin Caves as well as tubing down the river, which is great for meeting other guests.

The hostel offers good, cheap typical dinners on the deck by the reception. There is a separately owned restaurant/bar (with a TV) by the river that also serves delicious food. In the evenings they have a huge buffet which is a very popular communal affair -- the meat option isn't really worth the extra money compared to the vegetarian. There is also a sauna and deck by the river that are great places to chill out, especially after a dip in the river to escape the heat. It seems fairly safe and there is a guard patrolling at night and lockers available at the bar.

Summary

El Retiro is a very cool place to escape and relax while exploring the area around Lanquin. The tours and shuttle services are a bonus and the location right on the river is a winner. The bar and restaurants are great places and you are bound to have a good time and meet lots of the other travelers.

Exclusive Hostelz.com Review
June 2010

Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
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Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
5   Ideal location, great service ... above & beyond! What an amazing place! The location is breathtaking, you can jump right in the river or eat your breakfast on a platform right by it. There's a sauna, ping-pong, delicious buffet dinners every night and a fun bar. The staff were awesome, happy to help, efficient, and mostly locals! Realize you'll be in the jungle, so you will see some bugs ... but the showers were hot and the rooms very clean! Would love to return one day.  , USA ()
1   Useless, unprofessional, bad service We have booked our stay 2 days before our arriving at Lanquin, making sure we wont miss it. The very same day, we received confirmation that there was a room available and our booking was confirmed. When we arrived, the idiot Josue at reception says that he effectively had our name but as the person who was in the room didnt check out in the morning, he didn't want to kick him out, as a result, no room for us!!!!!! Busy time of the year, he didn't even try to find a solution, didn't seem to care and just lazily said sorry and show us the door. We have both traveled in many places, its not our kind to complain but never received such a bad service!!! Even when we have experienced mistakes on the behalf of the hotel, they have at least tried to find a solution. No such effort was made here.  , age 30, Australia and France ()
4   Great Fun El Retiro is a good hostel, in an awesome location. It is located on a hillside leading down to the river, right outside of Lanquin. The rooms are basic, but the views and atmosphere make up for it. There is a nice restaurant/bar onsite, as well as a sauna right down by the river. The food was good, the people were friendly, but somewhat hard to get any service. I would recommend this place based solely on the location, and the atmosphere of the hostel.  , USA ()

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