99% of everything that I write here on freewheelings is positive and good natured. I try primarily to use the clout and reputation of this blog to promote the good things of this fine world in which we live. Every once in a while I run across a place that is so terribly terrible that it warrants advising other travelers to beware. The Backpackers Hotel in Rio Dulce, Guatemala is one of those places.
It’s actually quite sad to see this place go to waste. The location is amazing, right on the river. Most of the structure is built over the river including the restaurant and a portion of the hotel. The structure itself is interesting and unique, it conjures up the idea of staying in a giant tree house. It’s open aired and all of three stories tall with that coble together island look. Herein begins its downfall.
The walls might as well be made of paper, which I wouldn’t mind, until they start blaring techno music for the five people at the bar at 11:00 at night. If the yipping little dogs, which seem to live there, hadn’t kept you up thus far you don’t stand a chance against the techno. Your night is shot until 2 AM. The real tragedy here is that the area has so much to offer. If you can’t get to sleep until after 2 AM you’ve blown half the following day of boat rides, swimming in Lagoon, waterfalls, hot springs and more. Call it a hostel and maybe I wouldn’t be as grouchy, call it a hotel and I want a good night’s sleep.
The restaurant is over the water but things only get worse here. The tip is included in the bill so service is out of the question. If you order a sandwich, you can expect it to sit in the kitchen window for a half hour while your server stands around the bar gossiping with the other servers. By the time you actually get your sandwich it will be soggy, cold and still wildly overpriced. If you want another drink you can expect to push your way through the gaggle of gossiping servers to order it at the bar yourself. Why bother? There’s better food at a cheaper price just about anywhere.
All in all, the facilities have the potential to be amazing. Perhaps a change of management would make this place a destination.
Update: I just ran across another article where my fellow Travel Blogger Vagobond had a similar experience at the Backpacker Hotel.