Selva Negra Rating: 3.0 Pearls
For outdoorsy types looking for an authentic eco lodge experience, Selva Negra is the real deal. This family-run organic farm and coffee estate has accommodations ranging from hostel rooms to private bungalows, and even the nicest accommodations are competitively priced. The lush, cool mountain setting is rich with wildlife (expect howler monkeys, lizards, agoutis, and all types of birds), and the sustainable practices are everywhere evident, from the excellent farm-made cheeses at the restaurant to the solar water heaters. The lodge is charmingly rustic rather than luxurious, featuring buildings designed in a quaint German style, and the friendly owners help make it a truly special place.
La Gran Francia Colonial Boutique Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This charming colonial-style hotel just off Central Park is one of Granada's best hotel options, providing boutique intimacy, a small courtyard swimming pool, and simple but tasty local food -- not to mention affordable rates. The hotel building and the building housing the restaurant and bars are across the street from one another, and the simple yellow exteriors belie the loveliness found within. Antiques, potted plants, beautiful tiles, and rooms with wood-beamed ceilings (centered around the open-air courtyard) make the hotel feel like a hidden sanctuary. The historic ambiance is authentic: The building dates back to the 16th century. Just note that the bathrooms could use an upgrade, the tube TVs may have fuzzy reception (not to mention limited English channels), and there are few features besides the pool.
Hotel El Convento Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Hotel El Convento, a boutique built on the site of (and in the same style as) a former 17-century convent, has impressively low rates considering it is the best hotel in Leon. A flowering central courtyard, antiques lining the hallways, and a fine dining restaurant that many consider to be the city's premier option make for a charming stay. Rooms are mid-range but have plenty of character, with details such as brick walls, terracotta tile floors, and wrought-iron bed frames. There is no pool, however, which is a significant downside given Leon's hot weather.
Holiday Inn Managua - Convention Center Rating: 3.5 Pearls
The Holiday Inn Managua is a large, above-average chain hotel with low rates. It's arguably a bit nicer than the Hotel Camino Real (the rooms and common spaces are more modern), but it's not as nice as the Intercontinental Real Metrocentro. The outdoor pool is attractive but can get quite crowded in the late afternoon, and the restaurant is solid. Rooms are about what you'd expect from a Holiday Inn -- clean and contemporary, with comfortable beds and generic decor -- and many have views of the pool or lake. There's a convenient airport shuttle (for a small fee) and Wi-Fi is available free of charge.
Hotel Camino Real Managua Rating: 3.0 Pearls
Hotel Camino Real is one of the larger and nicer hotels in Managua, offering clean mid-range rooms and an extensive roster of features. Among them: an attractive outdoor pool, a kiddy pool, a business center, a fine dining restaurant, and even tennis courts. The location near the airport is convenient for those stopping over in Managua before or after a flight, and airport shuttle service is included in the low nightly rate.