“It’s a dangerous business…going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to…(maybe even Hobbitenango?)”
– JRR Tolkien
After almost five weeks in Guatemala, I was still searching for the “magic”. And then one day I stepped out my door, climbed a very steep hill, and found myself swept off into a magical land known as Hobbitenango…
After weeks of non-stop gray, the Guatemalan rainy season finally took a break one Monday morning and left behind clear, blue skies and stunning volcano views. So, I decided it was finally time to hike up the hill from my temporary house sitting casa to a place called Hobbitenango. The place is crazy busy on weekend and I needed to find out what all the fuss was about.
Sufficiently caffeinated from my morning Guatemalan coffee fix, I started the trek up the steep, narrow brick road, stepping off the path occasionally to make room for passing shuttle-trucks. It was early in the day after a very busy weekend and the traffic was fairly light. Once I reached the top of the steep, brick-paved hill, the road leveled out and gently sloped up to reveal a bit of magic on the mountaintop – The Magical Kingdom of Hobbitenango. Finally, I found the magic!
Later in the week, I wandered up the hill again, this time for a magical sunset beer with a view. As I sat there gazing at the distant volcanoes, I was approached by Roberto, the co-owner of Hobbitenango. We had met briefly earlier in the week and I mentioned that I write about travel. He mentioned that he’d LOVE for me to experience a night in a Hobbit hole. Fortunately, that evening found one of the Hobbit holes available – perfect timing! (Full disclosure – Roberto offered a travel writer rate of “totally free”. Lucky me!)
Hobbitenango is definitely the coolest, most unique and quirky place I’ve ever stayed! Ever!
This spontaneous decision to morph into a hobbit required just a few things for the overnight – like a toothbrush and some warmer clothes. So, after eagerly accepting Roberto’s kind offer, I ran down the steep hill to my casa, packed up the basics and staggered back up the hill, stopping every few feet to catch my breath. (Warning -there is NO WAY you can not sweat while climbing that steep hill!)
What is Hobbitenango? Their motto: “Disconnect to Reconnect”.
First, a brief explanation – “Hobbitenango” means “place of the Hobbis”. Hobbis are the distant cousins of the Hobbits who live on the other side of the world. (So, technically I became a “Hobbi” for the night, not a Hobbit.)
Hobbitenango is an eco restaurant, bar, and hotel resulting from the big dreams of two Guatemalan men hoping to live a simpler life more in balance with nature. Roberto and Danny have created this magical world high on top of a mountain about 20 minutes outside of Antigua. While extremely popular with local folks from Antigua as well as Guatemala City, it seems very few foreign tourists have discovered it.
Hobbitenango is an ongoing project and uses very innovative ecological techniques. The buildings, including the casita I stayed in, were built using plastic bottles and other local materials. Also, in an effort to live sustainably, the entire village is run on solar and wind power.
Hobbit Holes at Hobbitenango
Hobbitenango currently has two casitas (“Hobbit Holes”) available for overnight guests. Each of the casitas is built in traditional Hobbit style with round walls and round doors. A layer of thick grass covers the roof, adding to the magical sensation of living in a hole.
Entering my casita, I was surprised at the luxuriousness and the attention to tiny details. There were fresh flowers in vases and a sprig of fresh flowers on the pillows. Traditional art decorates the walls and the drapes covering the floor-to-ceiling wall of windows are created from locally woven fabrics.
In contrast to the small, round doorway, the casita is also surprisingly spacious. Another surprise – the bathroom is huge! Another heavy wooden door leads to a very spacious walk-in shower. Like the main sleeping and lounge area, the bathroom is also quite luxurious and features a vessel sink made of beautiful porcelain tiles.
The circular design of the ceiling is so cool I spent time just lying back on my big Hobbit bed mesmerized by it. It was created with huge log beams and wooden planks spaced in between. During the night, a circle of small solar lights gives the illusion of stars floating on the ceiling.
Nights on the mountaintop can get a little chilly, and the warmth of the fireplace adds to the cozy, romantic feel of the casita. Shortly before bedtime, two of the staff (they were NOT hobbits) stopped by with a load of wood and built a warm, cozy fire for me. (Sadly, just me. Not very romantic!)
During the night, the rain falling on the grass roof lulled me to sleep. I woke in the morning to the chirping of the birds and an amazing view of the distant Agua volcano from my bed. Craving a hot cup of Guatemalan coffee, I shuffled 15 steps to the cafe for my morning caffeine fix.
Check their website for casita availability and to make reservations. There are currently two casitas available as well as camping sites coming soon!
Hobbitenango Restaurant / Hobbit Bar
Hobbitenango restaurant serves delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as lighter “happy hour” snacks. Along with a wonderful meal, you get the stunning view at no extra charge. Outdoor amazing-view-seating is available on the patio as well as indoor seating for those cool and cloudy days, or on weekends when the crowds invade the top of the hill. (Check their menu here.)
The Hobbit Bar, also built in traditional Hobbit style with round doors, serves a wide range of top-shelf cocktails, craft beers, and local favorites like Gallo and Victoria. Above the bar, there is an open-air seating area with large picnic tables – protected from the weather while still offering amazing views.
The next time I get married (haha!), I’ll be having my wedding and reception at Hobbitenango. It’s a perfectly romantic spot and can accommodate quite a large crowd, with delicious food and a great supply of drinks. (Check their website for more details on organizing your special event!)
Hobbit Activities at Hobbitenango
On weekends, the parking lots at the bottom of the hill are typically packed and crowds wait in line for the shuttles to the top. What’s the big weekend draw? Live music, which adds to the magical vibe of the place. There are also hiking trails offering views of Guatemala City in the distance. For more traditional Guatemalan activities, they offer archery or machete throwing!
With the restaurant and bar area overflowing with the weekend crowds, many people just sprawl on the grass, listen to the music and soak in the stunning views.
Hobbitenango – Getting There
There is no public transportation from Antigua, but Hobbitenango does offer a private bus service directly to their parking lot. For six or more passengers, the cost is 30Q per person round trip. Also, if you have less than six, the charge is 200Q round trip total.
If you’ve got your own transportation, follow the road past the village of El Hato and park in one of three lots located at the base of the hill leading to Hobbitenango. Shuttles run continuously, taking people from the parking lot up the steep hill. Only four-wheel drive vehicles are allowed to drive the last 800 meters, directly up to Hobbitenango.
For more information on parking and shuttle fees, detailed directions, or to make shuttle reservations, check their website – click here!
So, the next time you find yourself searching for the magic in life, make your way to this remote, magical kingdom in Guatemala where you can “disconnect to reconnect”! Order an ice cold beer, sit back, and watch the distant Fuego volcano spew. It’s quite a magical sight!