The last time I was in Antigua (July, 2009) I stayed at the Jungle Party hostel which, in my unvarnished opinion, is a complete shit-hole. On this trip, as I didn’t have to confer with anyone else, I decided to pony up the extra $1 and stay somewhere with better reviews. El Hostal gets an 89% approval rate so it was my first choice – and it turned out to be a good one.
Situated just a few blocks from the Central Park, El Hostal is out of the way enough that it’s not too noisy but close enough that getting to other places is quick and easy. It’s located almost directly across from the well-known Café No Se and I’m a bit surprised it’s not more popular. Granted, it’s a bit more expensive than some of the other places in town (note the aforementioned $1 more per night) but it’s worth it.
The rooms are clean, the beds are bug free and comfortable (they are actual mattresses, not just foam pads), the reception staff is friendly and helpful and the free breakfast is yummy and plentiful. Were I to nitpick, the only things I would change would be more comfortable seating in the common area (currently there is only one couch, a hammock and some fairly uncomfortable chairs) and more room between bunk beds. The beds they’re using are not, I suspect, supposed to be used as bunk beds but rather are regular beds nailed together. This means that there is only about 2.5 feet from the top of one bed to the bottom of the other which means you can’t sit up in bed. Somewhat uncomfortable and inconvenient but in the grand scheme of things, not a huge problem. I could avoid it were I to sleep in the front dorm room which doesn’t have bunks but that room also faces the street so it is significantly louder. If you’re tall though you would want that room as one of my roommates was 6’4” and had to sleep diagonally across his bed and his feet still hung off the end.