When I was traveling through Guatemala I heard about Zephyr Lodge before I learned about Semuc Champey, the natural pools located deep in the Guatemalan jungle. Reviews are mixed on this place, through word-of-mouth and also online, but my temporary travel companions at the time were insistent on staying there so I decided to give it a try.
Zephyr Lodge has a selection of dorms and private rooms available. I stayed in a dorm room situated next to the main area where the bar and restaurant are located but also got to check out the dorms that were further away as well. I also got to visit the private room of two guys I met while at Zephyr Lodge.
If you’re up for a party or will likely be staying up anyway then the rooms in the main building will be fine. If worse comes to worst then you should hopefully have some ear plugs anyway. It’s not terrible but if you’re a light sleeper then the noise will likely keep you awake. You can try to request the rooms that are further away but it’s not guaranteed.
These dorms are also located up some steep stairs so if you have any problems with mobility, definitely let them know when you’re booking.
The newer dorms that are located separate from the main building will be quieter and you don’t have to deal with the noise from the bar but if you need to get up to use the bathroom at night it is a bit of a walk .
The beds were comfy and there seemed to be enough electrical outlets for everyone. One downside was that there weren’t enough lockers in the room for everyone and we had to use the ones outside. I’m not a big fan of that but it was still safe.
The private rooms are definitely worth it if you have the budget. Big comfy beds, boutique style rooms, private bathrooms, and they all have a big open-air deck or balcony looking out into the valley. They’re far enough away from the action that the noise shouldn’t be a problem but still within stumbling distance of the bar to make it back to bed safely.
The bar and restaurant
Zephyr Lodge offers a bar and restaurant for all meals during your stay. No outside food or drink is allowed and there is no kitchen for guest use.
The food isn’t the cheapest but I wouldn’t say it’s overpriced. You are in the jungle after all. There were some great choices and some that were a little bit bland. Chat with the other guests and see what’s good on the menu at the time.
There are wood-fired pizzas, freshly baked breads, burgers and also lots of vegetarian and healthier options. For me everything was great except for the mexican-inspired meals like the burrito.
All ordering is done by an electronic tab system and you pay for everything at the end. This can be a good or bad thing as it can be so easy to forget there’s any money involved and go crazy with the drinks only to get a shock at the end. Staff are always happy to give you an update of your bill during your stay.
Zephyr Lodge uses communal tables which are good for getting to know other guests when you’re on your own and there is a happy hour everyday from 6 pm to 8 pm which is also a great time to meet some other people and save some money.
Zephyr Lodge offers tours to the main sites in Lanquin as well as a Semuc Champey day tour. At the time of my stay they had recently made the decision to not include the caves tour section of the trip in their tour. We heard this was for different reasons including how dangerous the caves are (it’s a pretty risky trip) and recent thefts from the bags of guests while they were in the caves. Not sure what is actually true and they may now be offering the tour again as their website has the full package on their tour page.
Since we had heard such great things about the tour we decided to do as some other guests had done and book with a hostel located closer to the town. Because of this I don’t have any experience with the tours they offer but did hear some great things about their Lanquin River Tubing trip by the other guests.
There’s a sign-in sheet at reception to sign up for a tour and you should try to do it the night before so you don’t miss out on a spot.
Things to note
- Reservations for the private rooms can be made 2 weeks in advance but the dorm rooms can only be made one day in advance. This system is not ideal for new guests, especially when they’re at capacity. Even though they request an email for bookings due to lack of reliable internet and phone service, we had to call multiple times the afternoon before as they had to wait until day tour guests returned to see which ones were going to check out.
- This is a system a lot of popular hostels use. Why waste money on a booking system when you’ll be full anyway? Like most things in Central America, you just have to be patient and go with the flow. If they are booked up, there are a lot of other places to stay at, including some that are right next to Semuc Champey. Make sure you know what your other options are. Check out Trip Advisor for more places to stay in Lanquin.
- Wifi is not great. Don’t expect anything and you might be pleasantly surprised.
- There are some resident pets on the property. They don't usually bother guests but are there for a cuddle if you're missing you're missing your furry friends at home.
- Keep track of what you’re drinking and ordering throughout your stay. Many guests felt that they were being ripped off and there were things on their tab that they hadn’t ordered. Hard to prove when you’ve been staying there for a while and drinking up. My tab had a small error with my onward shuttle to Flores but it was quickly fixed up.
- Check out time can be a very busy time of the day. When you’re planning to check-out, make sure to be up with plenty of time to order and eat breakfast, pay for your bill and make your shuttle time. Almost every day that I was at Zephyr, there was a long line to pay, with up to a half hour wait. The day I checked out they opened breakfast almost 45 minutes late so it was a bit of a rush for those who were trying to be early but I was still one of the first few to check out. It didn’t really matter, though, because we still ended up waiting half an hour for our shuttle to show up and then a couple were yet another half an hour late after that. Again, just take the good with the bad. You’re in Guatemala, living the dream remember?
The Right Expectations
Zephyr Lodge is a great place to stay if you know what to expect and what you’re getting into. Remember that you’re in the middle of the jungle and supplies are limited. They might run out of a particular ingredient or not offer your favourite dish. Sure, it could be cheaper but with all the amazing amenities and stunning views it was worth it for me.
Zephyr can be a party hostel depending on the staff and the guests at the time. Some nights were quieter than others and some nights carried on and on. If you don’t want to party then just make sure to get a room further away and you should be fine. It’s nice and quiet during the day while everyone is away on day trips or just relaxing pool side.
Personally, my expectations were super low going in but I actually had a great time and stayed longer than expected.
Overall I think Zephyr is an excellent choice in Lanquin but does have its downsides. If you have the budget, their private rooms are great and include your own balcony overlooking the valley. The dorms are hit and miss. Comfortable beds but the dorms located near the bar are noisy at night until the party dies down. The shared showers have their own individual views of the jungle which is kind of cool as do some of the toilets. Everything is very clean and well maintained.
The infinity pool is really the attraction here. The pool has a stunning backdrop and a swim up bar. There’s a large sun deck for perfect days relaxing by the pool with a strong drink as well as a hot tub with very restrictive opening hours. Overall I recommend Zephyr Lodge. It’s a good place to stay for a couple of days, you can relax or party and have a good place to rest your head after a long day at Semuc Champey.
Zephyr Lodge details
Private Rooms - Q 300 - Q 400 per night
Dorm rooms - Q 90 per person per night
Planning a visit to Semuc Champey? Check out my Semuc Champey Travel Guide.