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The Casa Santa Domingo in Antigua, Guatemala began life as a church and convent. Today it is a lovely, luxury, boutique hotel. But even if you are not a guest, it is well worth a visit. From the outside of the hotel you would never know what awaits.
1. The Museums of Casa Santa Domingo
In conjunction with San Carlos de Guatemala University, parts of the original church and convent of Santo Domingo and parts of Santo Tomás de Aquino (Saint Thomas Aquinas) College are now a series of museums. If you are not a guest at the Hotel Casa Santa Domingo there is a small admission charge to visit the museums (allow at least an hour):
- Archeology Museum: ceramic and stone objects from the Mayans- most dating 200-900 A.D;
- Colonial Museum: religious works in wood and silver from the 16th to the early 19th century;
- Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and Modern Glass;
- An artist hall with contemporary art exhibits;
- Silver and Handicrafts: from the local Sacatepéquez Region including traditional ceramics, wrought iron, textiles, and other crafts from the local area; and
- A Pharmacy Museum with pieces from the “Farmacia Oriental” of Guatemala City. Dating from the end of the 1800’s. If you have been to other old pharmacies, it is amazing how similar they are!
2. The Art Exhibit
Near the entry of the hotel, just after you pass the spa, is a hall off to the left. Here there are rotating exhibits of local artists. These art works are for sale and if you are looking for a high-quality but reasonably-priced souvenir this might be the place.
3. The Macaws
All around the hotel are macaws. If you have kids, they will love them. You can get quite close.
4. The Spa
There is a spa within the hotel that looks amazing. (You can also stay in guest rooms providing access to the spa facilities.)
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5. The Restaurant and Bar
The bar offers a great place to just relax, have a drink and soak up the tranquil atmosphere of Casa Santa Domingo. The restaurant is highly rated and offers a very reasonably-priced, tasting menu. On Sunday there is a brunch. Bookings are essential.
6. Santa Domingo del Cerro
Casa Santa Domingo has a second property with a stunning view of Antigua. A free shuttle runs all day. At the time of our visit it was running every hour on the hour (returning on the 1/2 hour). You can ask in the lobby for the shuttle times.
In addition to a very pleasant drive with great views of Antigua, when you arrive at Santa Domingo del Cerro there is a sculpture garden, local handicraft market and a restaurant.
If you catch the shuttle about 3 pm you have plenty of time to stroll through the gardens, visit the market and watch sunset over a drink in the restaurant.
It is cooler up on the hill than in the town of Antigua, and the shuttle is open air. If you are going for sunset bring a jacket or extra layer.
This is a popular venue for weddings and you can see why!
So even if you are not staying at the Casa Santa Domingo, we recommend you make a visit while you are in Antigua.
Love the Nature
In both Guatemala and Honduras, crime rates are high. What’re your suggestions for safely travelling in both countries?
Thanks a lot!
We only went to Copan in Honduras, reputedly the safest place in the country. As for Guatemala, most of our time was in Antigua, also a reputation for being a very safe place. We never felt ill at ease in either place.
Having said that, I would not walk around Guatemala City. Other hints are to use private transport, very reasonable especially if there are 4 of you. And we never wear expensive jewellery or watches whenever we travel in Central or South America. Leave it at home. And always use common sense. If in doubt ask at your hotel, they are quite up-font in giving honest advice.
I hope that helps.