Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes, is also home to coffee farms producing premium beans, surf-friendly Pacific beaches and tiny Caribbean islands alive with the lilt of English Creole. From eco-friendly island retreats, treehouse villas and a former pirate hideout turned A-list resort, here’s our pick of the best hotels in Nicaragua — bookable with Culture Trip.
A family-friendly condo complex an hour’s drive from the international airport, Gran Pacifica sits on a 2mi (3km) stretch of wild Pacific called Playa San Diego. Golfers will be keen to tee off at the three nine-hole courses with ocean views, while others may prefer to ride horses along the beach, surf the breaks, go deep-sea fishing or just soak up the sun by the infinity pool.
Set in thick forest that sweeps down to a horseshoe beach, this laid-back resort on the Emerald Coast has a jungle-lodge vibe. Stay in treehouse villas, some with private pools, others with outdoor showers for the full close-to-nature experience, but none with a TV. A spa offers facials and massages, and there are regular yoga sessions on a thatched roof deck overlooking the sea. The waves are smooth enough for paddleboarding; kayaking and thrill-seeking surfers will find Pacific breaks nearby.
This peaceful island retreat in Lake Cocibolca (also known as Lake Nicaragua) is just 15 minutes by boat from the colonial city of Granada. Festooned with palms, the island offers verdant vistas, with an infinity pool that looks towards the green slopes of Mombacho volcano. Activities include yoga sessions and kayak explorations around the islands of Las Isletas. Designed for sustainability, the casitas and funky furniture are fashioned from reclaimed trees felled by Hurricane Felix, water is filtered to reduce plastic and power is provided by solar panels.
Surrounded by a jungle reserve that reverberates with the whoops of howler monkeys, this remote, eco-luxe slice of Pacific paradise is designed to make the most of the lushly forested cliffs that look down upon a mile of golden sands. Wooden bungalows are cleverly spaced to give you an all-this-is-mine experience as you gaze out from the porch over treetops to the beach. Villas have their own pool, and meals are sourced from an organic garden.
A palm-shaded, lounger-lined pool sits at the heart of this unfussy hotel just three minutes’ drive from Managua international airport. A dinky gym and spa with massage, steam and sauna rooms means a wholesome afternoon well spent. But the nearby Pharaohs Casino steps things up a notch with slots, games tables and a sports bar. Back at the hotel, the Casablanca Restaurant serves local and international cuisine in a relaxed setting.
Smart, polished interiors greet business travelers and tourists looking for five-star comfort at this hotel close to the Metrocentro Mall in Managua. Large modern rooms, big comfortable beds and the usual in-room mod cons make it an attractive option. There’s a swimming pool that will appeal to families and a gym where you can hit the treadmill. The in-house Garden Court restaurant offers fine dining, and the breakfast buffet has all the tropical fruits and Nicaraguan specialties you would expect.
Once the height of genteel luxury, this characterful Victorian concoction overlooks the crescent bay of San Juan del Sur, the most popular beach town in Nicaragua. Painted in cream and white, it was built in 1902 as a family mansion by a Brit who ran the cable company here, and has a small pool in front. Dark-wood beds and furnishings continue the antique theme inside, where one of the rooms is named after US author Mark Twain, who passed through the town in 1866.
A five-star hotel at the heart of the business and entertainment district in Managua, Real InterContinental caters to families looking for home comforts and a pool area with loungers. The 157 rooms are spacious and elegantly furnished and there’s a well-equipped gym. Three restaurants cater for every taste, with a sushi bar, pizzas and sliders at the Market and fine dining in the Factory Steak and Lobster restaurant.
A colonial treasure, La Gran Francia is the most historic hotel in Granada, with roots back to when the city was founded in 1524. The atmospheric surroundings are complemented by baroque antiques, period paintings and checkerboard floor tiles in the corridors. Suites are comfortable and spacious, and there’s a small swimming pool in the central courtyard between the rooms. Breakfasts are served in the Arcangel restaurant in a building in front, which also houses the hotel balcony bar, a great place to sip a rum cocktail and survey the plaza below.
The remote Pearl Cays, a handful of tiny islands off the coast of Pearl Lagoon, were once a pirate hideout. Nowadays, at Calala Island you are more likely to find barefoot A-listers enjoying an all-inclusive Robinson Crusoe experience. One of the priciest hideaways in the world, it hosts a maximum of eight guests, whose every whim is attended to by 25 staff. Suites are designed with a driftwood theme, a palapa bar and restaurant is run by a top chef and there’s an infinity pool.
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