When I first learned about The Good Hotel in Antigua, Guatemala, I thought, what a neat idea! This socially responsible business thrives on reinvesting 100% of their profits into the local community. Started by Amsterdam born, Marten Dresen, The Good Hotel came about from a personal backpacking trip through Guatemala which led to opening schools for low income children in the country. Now the Good Group trains unemployed and single women to work in the hospitality sector, and hires them to run their properties. Also, they invest in the education of kids from low income families, and source local products for use by guests.
The Good Hotel is located on a relatively quiet residential street in Old Town Antigua. The city is a charming colonial UNESCO World Heritage site with cobblestone streets and colorful bohemian buildings. One can walk along the streets lined with bougevvilla trees to get to the Parque Central (main square) in about 10 minutes.
As soon as I arrive at The Good Hotel, I can see the Scandinavian influences in the construction and decor. Though the building was a colonial private home, it has been renovated to look like a modern log cabin with high ceilings, farm style wooden sliding doors, white walls and contemporary chandeliers. The rooms are located along a long hallway surrounded by a garden with tropical foliage. They are minimalistic, yet functional. I stay at the Patio Room, which is the second highest category. Being in a corner, it has more privacy and a private patio with an outdoor shower. The Pila Rooms are about half the size and open up to the corridor, which gives a hostel like feel. These can get noisy as you can hear people passing through. There were no fans or air conditioners in the rooms so you have to keep the windows open.
On my pillow is a worry doll, a traditional handmade doll that according to local legend, takes away your sorrows, fears and worries. It is generally used to help kids overcome their problems and help them sleep through the night.
The common spaces at the hotel are inviting to grab a drink, catch up on emails and chat with other travelers. At the entrance, you can read about all the hotel’s projects and how your stay leaves a positive footprint in the community. The Living Room is modern with sofas, kitchen counters, a TV and garden tables. Each morning, I grab breakfast of freshly baked croissants and locally sourced cappuccino coffee. At night, I return for a glass of wine or a scoop of gelato. All the produce is locally sourced, fresh, organic and home-made by their team.
The friendly staff is always there to give advice on the best restaurants, attractions and how to get around. Because they are young and sustainable, I tend to take their recommendation and eat at Cactus Taco Bar (the best taco I’ve ever had), in Antigua. There is also free WiFi throughout the hotel which works rather well, so you can stream movies or research your next destination.
The Good Group also has hotels in Guatemala and London, and plans to open in Amsterdam, Madrid, New York, Guatemala City and Rio over the next three years.