Much like Costa Rica (its neighbor to the south), Nicaragua is filled with lush rainforests, roaming wildlife, and pretty white-sand beaches. And although the country is very poor, it's rich in history; travelers can visit historic churches and plazas, most of which can be found in Leon and Granada. So whether looking to visit a coffee plantation, view Lake Nicaragua from the top of Mombacho volcano, or relax on a hammock in a jungle setting, one of these six hotels is perfect for you -- and Nicaragua will provide the perfect spring break escape.
Mukul is more than just a luxury resort; it is one of the most exclusive hideaways not only in Nicaragua, but Central America. The name is Mayan for “secret,” and guests are assured of a high level of privacy: The resort — part of a sprawling, 1,670-acre beach community — has only 37 luxurious Bohios and Villas, and the grounds are not open to the public. The guests who can afford Nicaragua’s most expensive hotel rates will be rewarded with a gorgeous white-sand beach, one of the most beautiful spas in the world, an 18-hole golf course, gourmet cuisine, and pampering service.
Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation, and rooms adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. The white-sand beach is secluded and beautiful, the restaurant serves simple but tasty local dishes, and group yoga classes on the ocean-view wooden platform are free. For a tranquil, unplugged getaway, this is one of Nicaragua’s premier options.
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. The hotel is comprised of two buildings and sits close to the action of Granada. 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.
For outdoorsy types looking for an authentic ecolodge experience, Selva Negra is the real deal. This family-run organic farm and coffee estate has accommodations ranging from hostel rooms to private bungalows, as well as a lush, cool mountain setting that’s rich with wildlife (expect howler monkeys, lizards, agoutis, and all types of birds). The sustainable practices are evident everywher, 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.
Hotel El Convento, a boutique built on the site of (and in the same style as) a former 17th-century convent, is one of the best hotels 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.
The InterContinental Real Metrocentro is a polished business hotel that lives up to international expectations for luxury. Rooms have plush beds, modern bathrooms, and flat-screen TVs with cable (including English channels), and the features are extensive, including a staffed business center, ample meeting space, multiple restaurants, and a lovely outdoor pool. The hotel is a chain and feels like one, but there are elements of local charm in the common spaces — brick ceilings, an ancient funerary urn displayed as art, and wrought iron grills in front of the restaurants. The food is solid: There’s an extensive breakfast buffet with an omelet station, a lounge serving cocktails and sushi, and a steakhouse — not to mention 24-hour room service (a rarity in the country).