Guatemalan hotels come in all shapes and sizes, and unless you’re really off the beaten track there’s usually a good range of accommodation to choose from. There are bargains and bad deals at every level. Guatemala really is a budget-travellers’ dream, and you should be able to find a clean double room for US$15 (or less) in any town in the country, except the capital. At the top end of the scale, you can stay in some magnificent colonial hotels decorated with real taste. In the mid-price bracket, you’ll also find some brilliant places – you can still expect character and comfort, but perhaps without the service and facilities.
Accommodation options have a bewildering assortment of names: hoteles, hosteles, pensiones, posadas, hospedajes and casas de huespedes. The names don’t always mean a great deal, but budget places are usually called hospedajes and anything called a hotel is usually a bit upmarket. Virtually all the main travellers’ centres have backpacker-style hostels with dormitories and a sociable vibe.
Most Guatemalan hostels tend to be owned and often run by expats, and are geared-up to budget travellers’ needs, with excellent travel information, grub and perhaps a bar. Try to avoid huge dormitories; the best places tend to have a maximum of eight beds. Some hostels offer single-sex dorms and also private rooms for couples.
The cheapest hotels (below US$15) are simple and sparse, usually with a shared bathroom at the end of the corridor. In most towns, upwards of US$20 will give you a private bathroom with hot water. In the midrange (around US$40–60) your room should be comfortable and attractive, while for US$80 and up you can expect high standards of comfort and luxury, with facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and a restaurant.
It’s only in Petén, the Oriente and on the coasts that you’ll need a fan or air-conditioning. In the highlands, some luxury hotels have logwood fires to keep out the winter chill.
Mosquito nets are not that common, so if you plan to spend some time in Petén or by the coast, it’s well worth investing in one.
Campsites are extremely few and far between. It’s really not worth bringing a tent as there are only a handful of places in the entire country that offer a designated, secure place to camp.
If you’re planning to do a jungle hike or volcano climb, tour agencies will sort out tents (or hammocks and mosquito nets).