La Fortuna Atitlan – Hotel Review

la fortuna atitlan hotel review guatemala

I’m not going to lie here, and say I just stumbled across this hotel by accident – in reality, I’d had La Fortuna Atitlan on my bucket list for years, ever since it graced the scenes of Instagram. And when I found availability for 5 consecutive nights in Deluxe Suite 5 (this bungalow is consistently booked out almost a year in advance – and for good reason!) I jumped at the chance and booked it! La Fortuna really is the sort of thing you’d read about in a fairytale – it is absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful – and my experience there completely exceeded my expectations. 

I almost didn’t write this review in the hope it would remain a hidden gem and easier to find availability for next time, but my experience there blew me away so much that La Fortuna really deserves all the recognition, and some. 

Location and How To Get There 

La Fortuna is situated on the shores of Lake Atitlan, one of the hidden gems of Central America , and just a 2-3 hour journey from Guatemala City’s international airport. I booked a private transfer through La Fortuna from the airport to the lake, which cost just $100. Our driver met us at arrivals with a sign with our names on making the process of finding a transfer incredibly easy and stress free. 

However, not only were we travelling during the “green” or rainy season, but Guatemala had seen record amounts of rain in the week preceding our trip. This made for numerous landslides, washed out roads and diversions. Our driver was exceptional – not only did he know all the cut through and shortcuts, but he got us to the lake before nightfall, something that would have been impossible had we taken public transport. That being said, there are various buses and other shuttles that could take you from the airport to Lake Atitlan, however they stop frequently and it does end up taking a lot longer. 

Once you arrive at Lake Atitlan in the town of Panajachel, you have the choice of taking the public boat or having La Fortuna pick you up in their private boat. The public boats run pretty frequently and cost around $4 to go anywhere on the lake, however they do tend to stop when it gets dark, so bear this in mind when planning your arrival. I had organised a private boat to pick us up from Panajachel, the front desk was in contact with our driver during our ride over so the boat was conveniently at the dock when we arrived. It cost just $15 and was well worth it for the convenience. The boat ride over to La Fortuna maybe took 15 minutes and it really is breathtaking when you arrive, you feel like you are entering a fairytale. 

One of the front desk staff was there to meet us at the dock and immediately helped to escort us to our room as it had just started raining. The check in process was seamless, they even managed to make us dinner despite us not being there earlier to reserve a dish. 

Suites 

There are just five unique suites on the property, which just adds to its exclusivity. Every single one is beautifully and exceptionally thought out, both architecturally and practically. We were lucky enough to secure a booking of five consecutive nights in Deluxe Suite 5, which is the largest of the accommodations. 

Deluxe Suite 5 is  set out over two levels – as you enter there is a spacious sitting and dining area with high ceilings and a unique boat positioned on the ceiling that frames the light fixtures. The wooden staircase is really something to be marvelled at, hugging the wall, each floating step leads the way to the master bedroom upstairs that boasts an outdoor terraced balcony with unparalleled views of Lake Atitlan. This was our favourite place to relax during our stay, we spent many an hour watching the boat traffic or simply sharing a mimosa in the morning. None of the suites have air conditioning, which we didn’t find a problem at all; it would almost get chilly at night so the use of the extra blanket was warranted! 

Downstairs the main wall is composed of recycled glass bottles which makes for a beautiful feature wall that lights up when it catches the sunlight. There are two ornate floor to ceiling doors that open up to the terrace with a private pool and seating area. I can’t think of a better view when lounging in your own plunge pool with a good book. The bathroom also features walls composed of glass bottles, a full sized bath tub with double rain shower heads and a curtain that opens up to the outside terrace!

Each suite comes with a selection of gourmet snacks which are refilled daily by room service. Bottles of filtered water are also available in every room and while replaced daily, can also be refilled at the bar in the main reception. There is also a copy of the breakfast, snacks and drinks menu so you can plan out what you would like to eat each morning. 

The other four suites are just as beautiful, but not quite as large as suite 5, and while we didn’t get to peek inside, they are built with the same flair and seclusion, all promising a delightful and relaxing stay. One thing to mention here is that if a particular suite is not available for all of your available dates, make sure to contact the front desk as sometimes you might be able to stay in another suite and just switch rooms during your stay, which would actually make for a very notable stay as you would get to experience two different suites. 

Food and Drink

The food we had at La Fortuna was exceptional, and it’s easy to see how some people choose not to leave the hotel during their stay! 

Breakfast is just $7 each and you will be given the option to select which dish you fancy the night before. During our five stay here we tried almost the entire menu and they were all delicious. You also have the choice to add mimosas to your breakfast to make it a little extra special. Breakfast is delivered to your suite at a chosen time frame that suits your itinerary. We are early risers so chose the 7.00-7.30am slot every day. What we really enjoyed was a tray of freshly brewed coffee that would be delivered to our room at 6am!

 

There is a snack and lunch menu available if you choose to stay at the property during the day. Such items such as charcuterie platters, sandwiches, salads and quesadillas  are dishes you can choose. I am always apprehensive when travelling to a small hotel because I have Celiac disease and therefore cannot eat any gluten. I needn’t have worried! I had mentioned to the owners before arriving about my dietary restrictions and they were more than happy to accommodate me. They even offered to make me a gluten free burger, using blue corn tortillas to make the “bun” for the burger! On the days that we had lunch onsite, we chose to eat at the waterside, there are a couple of little table nooks overlooking the lake that just have exquisite views. You can also eat in the main building restaurant or in your suite too.

Dinner is a three course meal, and costs just $20 each. You are given a link to the day’s menu in the morning which will have a couple of choices that you can pick. Every night the staff made sure I had a gluten free option for every course! You can pick a time slot to eat, and if you would like to eat in the main restaurant area or in your room. On our first night, we were incredibly tired and weary and chose to eat in our bungalow, but for the majority of other nights we chose to eat in the main restaurant. There is a daily happy hour with reduced priced drinks from 4-6pm, which can be a nice place to mingle with the other guests and catch up on the day’s adventures. 

I must mention here a unique feature of the main building/restaurant area – there is a secret underground cellar that can be accessed by some steps from the main floor. Guests are welcome to venture down and choose a bottle of their choosing – each bottle is colour coordinated with stickers that relate to a different price – yellow stickers $15 each etc. It is a very unique piece of architecture and well worth a gander even if you don’t plan on blocking out a bottle. 

The drinks at La Fortuna were incredibly affordable, and delicious! Cocktails were about $6 each, with daily happy hour deals, wine bottles started at $15 each. When you order a drink, the staff can just add it to your room bill of which you can pay the balance when you check out. 

Hotel Facilities 

The main reception and dining area is situated in the centre of the property and features a full bar and various tables set up both inside and outside; not to mention the underground wine cellar! Above the dining area is also a small area where you can choose to have a massage (or in your villa if you would like!).

There is no shortage of things to occupy yourself at La Fortuna – if you decide to take a break from adventures around the lake and choose to spend the day onsite, you will find plenty to do. 

There are various palapas and lounging chairs set up over the property which you can use to relax, read, take in the view or play with the three onsite dogs! There is also one shaded open-air palapa that has been set up with various gym equipment –  a pleasant surprise in such a small intimate hotel! The hotel also has paddle boards and kayaks that are free for guests to use, you will just need to let the staff know and they will set it all up for you. When we travelled in the green season, they recommended not to use the kayaks after midday due to the changing afternoon weather which would often make for a choppy and rainy paddle! There is also a hiking path through the property that guests are encouraged to explore – again, just ask the staff and they will be more than happy to show you the trail. 

One feature of La Fortuna that is a favourite of guests is the wood-fired hot tub by reception. It is heated completely by the burning of wood which is lit in the morning, and by around 4pm it is the perfect temperature for a quick dip before dinner! 

Activities 

You might think that being in such a secluded location that you might be limited in the number of activities you can do in the local area. Well let me tell you now, that you’d be completely wrong! Being on the shores of Lake Atitlan opens it up to a plethora of different places to explore around the lake, and also other areas of Guatemala.

There is a hugely convenient and efficient public boat system whereby you can go anywhere on the lake for the grand total of around $4. All you need to do is stand at the end of the dock at La Fortuna (where you arrived) and you’ll find a wooden red flag stored next to one of the poles. As you see one of the small public boats coming in your direction, you just need to wave your flag a few times and they will come by and scoop you up. It’s as simple as that! I doubt you will have to wait more than 5 or 10 minutes, the boats come very frequently, but do remember they stop the moment it gets dark so make sure you plan to leave before sunset or arrange with La Fortuna to come and pick you up with their private boat, for a small additional charge. There are so many wonderful and quaint little towns and villages around the lake, I could have spent a whole month exploring them all and still would not have seen everything! 

One particular activity that we thoroughly enjoyed was a classic Mayan cooking class. I booked it online ahead of time through the Amigos De Santa Cruz website → visit here. It is only a 5 minute boat journey to the next town which made it incredibly convenient. Once you arrive in Santa Cruz, you can either walk or take a tuk tuk to the top of the hill where the restaurant is. We were running a bit late (and also didn’t really fancy the walk – when you see the hill, you will understand!) So we got a tuk tuk to the top of the cliff, you will need local currency, so we exchanged a few small bills at La Fortuna before we left.

Once we arrived at the restaurant, we were warmly greeted by our instructor before diving right into the class. We were the only couple there which meant for a great experience and personalised instruction. Our instructor was fantastic, spoke English perfectly and showed us step by step how to do everything. By the end of the evening we had created a three course meal of tamalitos (tamales) and tomato sauce, pepian with corn tortillas and rellenitos of which we got to enjoy at the restaurant afterwards. There is wifi there which made it easy for us to WhatsApp the front desk at La Fortuna to request a private boat back to the hotel as it had gotten dark during our class. The restaurant staff organised a tuk tuk for us back down to the dock and before long, a boat from La Fortuna was there to bring us back. It was just $34 for the two and a half hour class which goes towards the communities and education of the indigenous communities in the Santa Cruz area. 

One additional activity that I insist you book is a massage – honestly, the best massage I’ve had in my entire life, and my husband said the same. You need to book early as appointments fill up as fast as you can imagine, all you need to do is email the front desk and they will set it up for you either in your suite or in the upstairs space above the bar; I believe it was just $40 for an hour’s full body massage.

 The staff also went out of their way to arrange an early morning fishing trip on the lake for us; we had brought our own travel spinning rods, and wanted to just try our luck at catch and release fishing – and while we didn’t catch anything, we had the most beautiful setting to watch the sunrise over the volcano.

Service 

The service we experienced at La Fortuna was some of the best we experienced in our travels of Central America. Nothing is too much trouble, staff are incredibly attentive and really made a big effort to make our stay comfortable. I was impressed by the customer service even before I arrived, our arrival from the international airport to the hotel was seamless (despite the few floods!), and even organising a private boat to pick us up from the neighbouring town after our evening cooking class was incredibly easy. 

Any meal you order can be delivered to your suite for no extra fee, which I thought was a lovely touch. All of the suites are so unique, so it’s understandable that some guests choose to have every meal from the comfort of their own private deck. If you decide to participate in the in suite dining, staff will come and set up your table with candles, placemats and cutlery and bring each course in intervals throughout the evening, whilst clearing crockery between dishes. 

Closing Remarks 

La Fortuna really has been one of the most unique hotels I have ever stayed in – from the picturesque location, the personalised gastronomy, unparalleled service and the distinctive architecture of each suite, it really blew my expectations out of the water. I do not usually revisit the same properties, but I will wholeheartedly make an exception with La Fortuna – if you find availability, I urge you to book it – I guarantee you will not regret it !

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