I arrived in Xela, Guatemala on the shuttle from Antigua on a rainy Sunday evening. The streets were largely boarded up and shuttered and Hostal Don Diego was no exception.
I rang the bell – no answer. I banged on the gate. No answer. I banged some more, with a sinking feeling.
What if no one was there to let me in?
That feeling only lasted a second and the receptionist ushered me inside, bemused at my pounding on the door.
Inside, it was pitch black and she led me up a steep staircase to my room.
‘No lights?’ I asked.
‘No lights,’ she agreed.
‘No lights,’ she repeated.
Even in the dark, the attic style room looked quite cute so I dropped my stuff and agreed to a rate of 400 quetzals for a week, including kitchen and wifi access. And it turned out that the lights were only out because of the rain.
Googling quickly revealed that many of the guesthouses and homestays in Xela suffer from bedbugs and/or fleas and it’s almost unavoidable.
Thankfully I hardly even noticed my first few flea bites and although I woke up every day with one or two more, it wasn’t enough to send me running to somewhere that might be even worse.
Besides, have you seen how cute my room was?
And at only a two minute walk from Parque Centrale and the surrounding cafes I couldn’t be bothered complaining.
Most of the way I spent my time in Xela was based on the recommendation of other travel bloggers. And while the hostel I stayed in was only described as ‘mediocre’, I decided that if another travel blogger could handle it, I could too. And hey, it was okay.
Hostal Don Diego is located in Quetzaltenango (Xela) Guatemala on 6a Calle near 15 Avenida. A double room with shared bathroom cost 400 QTZ for a week, including internet and kitchen access.
The nearby Cafe Baviera is perfect for breakfast or for studying in between Spanish classes. There’s also a supermarket around the corner if you’d like to self cater.
Getting to Xela from Antigua
To get to Xela from Antigua you can take one of the door-to-door tourist shuttles for around 195 QTZ. These leave at 5am or 2pm almost every day and take about 3.5 hours depending on the road conditions.
You can also take a chicken bus from Antigua to Chimaltenango (45 minutes) and another from Chimal to Xela (3 – 4 hours). I met some great people on the shuttle and decided to save my chicken bus experience for a shorter journey.
Getting to Xela from Guatemala City
There is at least one company in Guatemala City that offers a first class Pullman bus service directly to Xela. You can ask at the airport arrivals hall for information on how to get to the right bus station.