Hotel Uxlabil: An Eco-hotel in Guatemala City

I spent five months in Guatemala City volunteering with La Alianza and researching eco-tourism to share with you, my lovely readers! The main thing I learned was that not too many people seem to care about eco-tourism in Guatemala City…except for one little oasis – Hotel Uxlabil. So if you are thinking about where to stay in Guatemala City, look no further than this eco-hotel nestled into the heart of the city.

An Eco-Hotel in Guatemala City

eco-hotel in guatemala city hotel uxlabil www.grassrootsnomad.com

Hotel Uxlabil, meaning ‘vital breath’ in Quiche, is nestled into a quiet, residential area in Zone 10 amongst parks and forested areas. The hotel itself is designed to reflect and promote the local Indigenous culture that its owner, Francisco, is so proud of. The hotel facade is inspired by the Rosalila temple in Copan, while other sections are a fusion of Spanish and Provencial architecture. This reflects the true spirit of the hotel – the harmonious combination of Mayan and Spanish heritage that inspires Guatemala.

Once you step inside the hotel, you are welcomed by the (primarily Indigenous) staff like you are a long, lost friend. There are 24 apartments in the hotel, each with its own unique decor as well as a kitchen and on-site laundry. The doors to each apartment are hand-carved from Guatemalan cedar wood by a local artist from Ciudad Vieja. The small balcony gives you a refreshing breeze that is perfect for the hot, summer nights, while also giving you the chance to watch the fireflies dart through the trees.

The story behind the hotel

eco-hotel in guatemala city hotel uxlabil www.grassrootsnomad.com

Hotel Uxlabil is a constant work in progress. Francisco has always been passionate about human rights and the environment, so he bought a patch of land in an empty area of Guatemala City – long before other people moved into the area or public electricity was available. People thought he was crazy, but he had a vision, a vision to create a hotel that helped the community and was in harmony with the natural environment.

In 1997, Francisco started work and has been involved in every element of the construction and development of the hotel. The building itself is made from sundried bricks that provide thermal insulation to keep the building naturally cool in summer and warm during winter. His passion for the natural environment is contagious. In addition to planting native trees on his own land, Francisco has even planted trees on surrounding land (with permission) to encourage more birds and wildlife to the area.

In addition to the environmental features like the solar panels and the ecological design, the hotel has a strong commitment to human rights. The building is designed to honor and promote Indigenous culture and this is replicated in the work that they do. The majority of staff across their three hotels are of Indigenous backgrounds. These staff members have complete working rights and pay levels. Sadly, this doesn’t happen everywhere in Guatemala. I was also pleased to see a sign on the front door clearly stating that the hotel is against human trafficking and they even had a copy of the national counter-trafficking legislation in the lobby! If only this was a common practice in all hotels.

The neighbourhood

eco-hotel in guatemala city hotel uxlabil www.grassrootsnomad.com

Guatemala City has a bad reputation and it is true that there are high levels of crime. However, if you are sensible then the city doesn’t have to be any more dangerous than anywhere else in the world. After all, I lived there for 5 months and never had, or even saw, any issues. I’ve been more scared in America than in Guatemala!

The hotel is in a quiet, residential area in Zone 10, not too far from the main shopping mall in town. Here, you can watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster in English with Spanish subtitles or dubbed into Spanish if you would like to practice your language skills.

The neighbourhood is the perfect place to go for a run or a walk through the trees to escape the busy city streets. There is a guard in the complex and all guests and residents have to be checked by him before they enter, so you know you are always safe.

Visit for yourself

eco-hotel in guatemala city hotel uxlabil www.grassrootsnomad.com

So, instead of heading straight to Antigua from the airport, make sure you spend a few days exploring Guatemala City. The hotel mainly has long-term guests, with 95% staying longer than 8 months. It is such a welcoming place that they even had a guest for 18 years! Whether you are staying for one nightΒ or one year, Hotel Uxlabil is the perfect place to hang your sombrero and base yourself to explore Guatemala City.

For more information, check out their website or send them an email (English or Spanish).

Hotel Uxlabil is setting the standard for eco-hotels in Guatemala. They are in Antigua Lake Atitlan and Guatemala City. Read at www.grassrootsnomad.com

Thank you to Hotel Uxlabil for hosting me during my stay. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and are in no way influenced.

 

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32 Comments
GlobalMary

I love this story! And I love how you say that this hotel is always work in progress β€”Β we should be honest with ourselves that sustainability is not something you achieve overnight. This hotel looks very nice πŸ™‚

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Grassroots Nomad

So true! They are constantly working to improve based on new research (or money), and it is great to see that their commitment is only getting stronger!

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Grassroots Nomad

Guatemala is a wonderful place! I recommend you do a homestay at some point if you visit – they are so welcoming and were the highlight of my trip!

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erikastravels

I’m glad you felt safe in Guatemala City. I keep hearing from everyone that the best thing to do in the city is to leave it as soon as possible. I, myself, skipped out on visiting. This hotel looks like such a wonderful little refuge!

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Grassroots Nomad

It really is! I went on my last weekend living in the city and it was so relaxing and peaceful! I loved watching the fireflies at night…. probably too much as I didn’t sleep much!

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highheelsandabackpack

Aw, loved the story behind this article and Francisco’s vision.
I love places like this, that are trying to do some good and have a soul to them rather than your typical hotel. I’ll have to remember when I get around to Guatemala. Great post! πŸ™‚

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Grassroots Nomad

Francisco really makes the hotel – his passion for Guatemalan culture and environment is what makes the hotel so special!

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Lucy

Very unique hotel! I like the idea of eco-hotel, and the neighborhood is such a lovely and peaceful place!

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Grassroots Nomad

Thanks, Lucy! Eco-hotels are all over the world now which means there is always somewhere unique to stay!

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Grassroots Nomad

It is a very friendly place to stay in a city that definitely isn’t known for being too friendly!

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Julie Kern

I visited Tikal from Belize last November, and I’ve been dying to go back to Guatemala ever since! Good job on finding one of the few eco-friendly places to stay in GC! Will have to check it out.

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Grassroots Nomad

I ran out of time and never made it to Tikal! I’ll be in Mexico in a few months so maybe I will be able to head back into Guatemala and see it πŸ™‚

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aberkholtz

Way cool! How do you pronounce the name of the hotel? Love that they use solar panels!

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thetravelpockets

I love hotels that give back and that are eco friendly. I was surprised at the end that there were so many long-term guests. Staying longer than 8 months seems more like a home than a hotel stay πŸ™‚

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Grassroots Nomad

A lot of people come to Guatemala to volunteer – I was there for 6 months and wish that I had found out about this place earlier!!

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Claire

This hotel looks so serene! I won’t be returning back to Guatemala for a few years but definitely will be one day, and when I do I’ll definitely check this eco-hotel out. Looks amazing!

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Jo

The hotel looks amazing. The room is soooo cozy and I love the homely decor. Its amazing that its surrounded by greenery – I strive to hit places like that, away from the bustling big city life.

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Grassroots Nomad

It sounds right up your alley then, Jo! I love that about eco-lodges – they are always so peaceful and in tune with nature πŸ™‚

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wanderingwagarschristina

We are thinking about heading back to Guatemala as we on really got to see Tikal when we were there last. This sounds like the kind of hotel I would like to support when we visit again.

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Grassroots Nomad

They also have a basketball court the kids could play on! πŸ™‚

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