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All reviews santa catalina boutique hotel fresh flowers literally steps gorgeous property famous arch delicious breakfast small group an oasis perfect location central courtyard room hotel every morning our honeymoon high ceilings comfortable beds personalized service
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Reviewed 24 October 2018

Months prior to visiting Guatemala, I researched different hotels in the areas that we would be going to. San Rafael Hotel was our #1 choice and we are so happy that we chose it. There were other good hotels in Antigua but, one of the reasons why we chose this one, other than its awesome reviews, of course, was the fact that it only had 7 rooms, which translates to better service for all guests.

Where to start... Our room (#7) was the best one of all. It had a fountain of its own right outside some french doors that open up to it. After our second night, we noticed that each night they would turn it off about a half hour after we arrived. It seemed to us that they wanted to make sure that we would enjoy the beauty and sound of the fountain in the evening. We proved this during our second night because, on the first night, we got there at about 9:15pm and we heard the water stop running about a quarter to 10:00pm. On the second night, we got back a little after 10:00pm and they turned it off, roughly, a little before 11:00pm. That detail, alone, says a lot about their aim to satisfy their guests.

During the evening, throughout the perimeter of the hallways and gardens, they would light up candles. This was such a pretty detail. Nothing was prettier than their lush gardens, though. Throughout the property, there are flowing plants all over the place. The terrace plants would overflow down to the first floor, which was so beautiful. I asked a staff member if we could go to the terrace and, after a few minutes, he came back to tell us that he will show us around up there. It turns out that the owner, a very nice man, by the way, lives there. Once we got to the terrace, our breath was taken away by the view up there. Too bad that it is a private area of the home. That is not to say that you guests are not welcome to see it for themselves, upon request, of course.

Every morning, they served free breakfast, which was so very delicious. Everything was fresh and made to order. Nothing is frozen. Throughout this colonial home, there are a few small tables. Whichever you choose, they will spot you, even through their lush gardens. During our stay, two different ladies served us and they were, both, extremely attentive to every detail and all of our needs.

Every night we would go to their office and ask them for some ice and every night they would tell us that they will bring it to our room. We would offer to stay and wait for it so that they did not have to walk to our room, but they would insist in taking it to us. We would give in, go to our room and, not even 3 minutes later, we would see the staff member walking up to our door with a bucket of ice (tongs and all) on top of a serving tray. Their service was perfect in every instance and at every level.

During our entire stay, we, as I am sure all guests, were treated like royalty. And, honestly, we felt like royalty. No matter how many times you walked out into Antigua, came back and knocked on the door, they always came to the door with a smile. We expected, at least once, to have them come to the door with a how-many-more-times-are-you-planning-to-come-in-and-out face, but they never, ever did. They never even got a little, tiny, bit close to reacting that way. Their demeanor was always very, very welcoming.

Aside from superb service, cleanliness was at the top of their list, apparently. The entire place was always spotless. No matter what time of the day we were there, we would always see an employee cleaning something. Also, no matter what area you passed or went into, there were always fresh flowers, which included our room.

The location of this hotel was perfect as it was, literally, around the corner from the Arco de Santa Catalina, which is the distinguishable landmark in Antigua. Every day the street where the landmark was at was packed with people taking pictures of the arch. We could not figure out how it was possible that there were photos out on the web of this beautiful piece of colonial architecture minus people, even though these photos were during daylight hours. We thought outside of the box and came to the conclusion that the wee hours of the day would probably be the key. We woke up at 5:45am, got ready in less than 10 minutes, walked the 30 seconds to the corner and, as soon as we looked towards the arch, we could not believe what we say. We had found the sweet spot. There was not one soul around. We took advantage of the desolateness and took a whole bunch of photos before we realized that we had forgotten our mini tripod to take photos together. We hurried back to the room, got it and, by the time we got back (in 2 minutes max) we say a couple of people here and a couple there. I guess 6:00am is the time when everyone starts going to school or work. Moral of the story: if you want a great location and the perfect landmark shot, Hotel San Rafael is the place and 6:00am is the time.

One of our favorite room features, other than every single thing, was the shower. The large rain shower head was the perfect thing to get under after a long day of ‘touristing’. Not only was there hot water, but the pressure was just right. One thing to keep in mind if you stay in room #7, though, which I did not notice until the second day, was that, there is a clear view into the shower from the garden terrace in the second floor. I noticed this one day when I heard a voice outside and, when I looked up, I noticed a worker watering the plants upstairs. Thankfully, I noticed him and I doubt that he noticed me, as I got closer to the wall where the window was, positioning myself underneath the window. Just something to keep in mind about room #7.

When we left the hotel for Lago Atitlan, I received an email from one of the staff members letting me know that I had left a few belongings (a book and a folder) and that they would hold it for me. I emailed them back as soon as I got signal and I saw their email (when we got all the way to our next destination, unfortunately) and told them that we would be by on our way back to Guatemala City in a few days. We did just that and my stuff was just as I had left it. If we would have stayed in a big hotel, most probably, I would not have ever been contacted about this.

Everything about this hotel and its staff was, absolute, perfection. It was not cheap, but worth every dollar and then some. We would not, for one moment, hesitate to stay here again when we go back. My husband is Guatemalan so, of course, we will be back.

Room tip: room #7 is worth the splurge
Date of stay: August 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Roadtripist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 September 2018

The character of the hotel is really beautiful and well done. Relatively small hotel. Staff is really friendly and speak english. We had a very large room and very good beds. Be aware that the hotel has no restaurant, but given the large amount of restaurants around that is not an issue.
But: may we have a bit more light in the bath-room?

Date of stay: September 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank duyster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 September 2018

My husband and I stayed here this past July. Wow, wow, wow. We were absolutely blown away. what a stunning property. we had the pleasure of meeting the owner who explained how they fully renovated the property over a few year period. the rooms are beautifully decorated, the updated architecture stays true to Antigua's Spanish baroque style and the grounds are just gorgeous! it is obvious that there is extreme attention to detail going on here. the hotel is literally steps from the main attraction - the Santa Catalina arch. the staff is absolutely lovely. every morning, we sat in the courtyard outside of our room and ate a delicious breakfast looking out onto the fountain and lovely gardens. you couldn't get a room like this in the US for the price you pay here in Guatemala. wonderful top of the line boutique hotel. a really special property. and a really special experience. thank you San Rafael Hotel for doing it RIGHT!

Date of stay: July 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank bettraveler778
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 August 2018

Excellent from the moment we arrived until we left 4 days later! Reception warm and welcoming, the gardens and portals are exquisite and comfortable with sofas and chairs which beg to be relaxed in. Rooms echo old Antigua but with a cosmopolitan aire. Mattress and bedding excellent and with the cool evenings of Antigua, you are at 5000 feet, the comforter is very welcome. Breakfast is a treat with fresh orange juice, a bowl of fresh fruit and then a choice of very excellent hot breakfasts and unlimited Gauatamaln coffee. Ask to see the roof terrace, lovely! Rooms 4 and 5 are quite large and the bathrooms have abundant lighting from skylights and windows. Utilize the hotels shuttle service from the airport, they are excellent also. Traffic in Guatamala City is something to avoid at all costs in your own car.

Room tip: We enjoyed no. 3, but 4 and 5 appeared to be larger if you needed more space.
Date of stay: August 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank John J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hotel S, Gerente at San Rafael Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 24 August 2018

Dear Mr. John J.

Thank you for your kind comment, for us is very important that our guests leave satisfied of our service. We hope to have you in the future as our guests again.

Best regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2018

San Rafael is an oasis in the vibrant and bustling city of Antigua. From the minute we stepped into this gorgeous property we knew we would be pampered. We were greeted by the smell of fresh cut lilies, the sounds of a soothing fountain and a courtyard filled with lush plantings. Julia, the manager was attentive and helpful throughout our stay making sure we had what we needed to be comfortable. When you go, ask her for a tour of the rooftop terrace. You will walk through an architectural wonder of the owners’ suite and will be greeted to a panoramic view of Antigua, the mountains, and volcanoes. Our room was glorious, so spacious, and very quiet. It’s clear the owners paid attention to every detail with their marvelous restoration integrating the original courtyard pillars, stones, and brickwork into the design. Not only was breakfast included as part of the stay but there was wide variety of delicious options to choose from each day. Fresh fruit, pots of coffee, and warm rolls accompanied each breakfast and it was always delivered to us at a table set with linens and fresh flowers on the patio. Denise and Claudia made sure each of us received our meal piping hot and at the same time. Just delicious! Each evening Telma welcomed us back and made sure our turndown service was completed for comfort. Antiques, fine arts, crystal chandeliers, and oriental carpets throughout the property and in our rooms contrasted with the sleek high-end finishes of furniture and fixtures in our room and in all the public spaces. Every detail from fresh flowers in the rooms, soft linens, and dreamy candles lit throughout the property at nightfall make this a magical place to stay. San Rafael is a treasure where you can feel like you are living in your own villa while enjoying all the comforts of a 5-star hotel. We cannot wait to return.

Room tip: Every room is unique and beautiful!
Date of stay: July 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank NS1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hotel S, Gerente at San Rafael Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 19 July 2018

On behalf of San Rafael Staff we want to thank you for your comment in Tripadvisor, it´s very detailed and very nice, we look forward to your next visit.

Best Regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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