We arrived in La Guama at approximately 6pm and were met by a friend who basically lives at the hotel. El Cortijo isn’t the easiest place to get to, although if you were doing it the whole way by public transport, you could manage it (as long as you left early, it’s tricky when it’s dark). We have taken a bus from El Pino to San Pedro Sula, and a bus from San Pedro Sula to La Guama. It’s pretty easy to get a bus to Pena Blanca, which would pass the hotel on the way.
The rooms at El Cortijo are pretty nice, which I’d expected from the reviews on TripAdvisor. We were in a “dormitory” room with four beds (three singles and one double) but had the room to ourselves. We did find it quite amusing that the double bed was surrounded by the three single beds, but we never actually found out why the odd placement. The bed was comfy and there was both a thin sheet and a thicker blanket, as at night it can get a little chilly. Bring a jumper!
The room and bathroom were pretty clean, apart from a few spiders hiding out. Unfortunately for us, we arrived just as there had been a power cut. This meant that until the morning we only saw our room by the light of an emergency lamp and our phones, and the hot showers were cold. I can see a generator coming in handy, but they are unfortunately pretty expensive to install and run.
We ate by candlelight that night – it would have created a pretty nice romantic atmosphere if you came as a couple! They had a large group of missionaries staying, so we were offered the pasta they were having. The other two went for the creamy shrimp pasta (which I was informed was delicious) but poor lactose intolerant me went for the salad. However, it was a pretty good salad and the dressing they used was really tasty.
We stayed a total of two nights at El Cortijo. The menu isn’t extensive, but it’s perfect for short stays. One of the chefs (of the name “Flaco”) is pretty amazing and the best chef at the hotel, and also can usually make anything if you request it! They are also very good at taking into account (and remembering) dietary requirements, one of the main issues I find when eating in restaurants. The favourite meals I had were pancakes (made especially for me without milk!) for breakfast, an amazing hamburger, and shrimp in a garlic sauce. Meals weren’t particularly expensive and they have a large stock of soft drinks and beer, as well as freshly made juices and lemonade. Mango juice? Papaya? Pineapple? Melon? No problem. So refreshing and also really healthy (and not a drop of milk in sight).
The general cost of a room is $30 (£20) a night, which is more expensive than the nearby D&D Brewery, but it depends on the atmosphere you are looking for. El Cortijo has the most amazing views of Lake Yojoa, which is beautiful when you’re sat outside eating breakfast! If you are in the Lake Yojoa area I do recommend visiting both.
All rooms come with towels and toiletries free of charge, as well as a cleaning service. Most of the staff speak only Spanish, but the owners (husband is American and wife is Honduran) speak English, as does one member of staff. Most of the staff live on site at the hotel and it’s very much like a family run place. John and Marta, who own the hotel, are absolutely lovely and help their staff with housing and education, and have funded some staff to go to university.
Overall I enjoyed staying at El Cortijo and would definitely go back (which I am this Thursday). It’s a perfect place for seeing the lake and you can also hire kayaks there to explore Lake Yojoa. The atmosphere is thoroughly relaxed, with excellent service and great food.
Online presence: 3/5
El Cortijo has a great atmosphere and the service is extremely good. Compared to other places in Honduras it can be considered a little expensive, but there aren’t many places to stay by the lake and it is of similar prices – maybe a little higher – than others there. A few things that would be great to have would be a pool and a generator, although the installation of these is pretty pricy.
The hotel’s online presence isn’t major, but they’re expanding. They are on TripAdvisor, Airbnb and Facebook. They also have their own website, but it turns up way below the others in the results on Google. Some search engine optimisation wouldn’t go amiss, and using booking.com, hostelbookers.com or hotels.com and potentially looking into Twitter and Instagram could be of benefit.
Overall El Cortijo del Lago gets a rating of 4/5, also known as “pretty damn nice and I would stay again”.