During our recent trip to Belize, we spent half our time in the interior Cayo District, exploring San Ignacio and the surrounding area. Figuring out where to stay took more time and effort than I anticipated but ended up working out perfectly. I thought I’d share our approach in case it’s helpful to someone else!
I don’t usually dedicate entire posts to places we stay because accommodations are not usually the thing we spend money on when we travel. We’re usually only at the place we’re staying to sleep. So it needs to have a bed. Bonus points if it’s within walking distance of places to eat. This means we’re usually renting a room in someone’s house via AirBnB or cashing in Brian’s Marriott points.
Where to Stay in San Ignacio
Disclaimer: I am not being paid to write this post and I’m not getting any kickbacks for recommending these hotels (but helllooo, happy to reconsider if someone wants to pay me!).
When I started looking into where to stay in San Ignacio, there seemed to be three main options:
- Stay in a guesthouse in town. Cheapest option.
- Stay at a resort outside of town. Higher end option.
- Stay a couple nights downtown and then splurge on a night at a resort outside of town. For us, the perfect pair.
Our flight got into Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport just after 4 p.m. and we had scheduled a shuttle to make the 90-minute journey to San Ignacio that same day. We wanted to simply check in somewhere, grab dinner, and go to bed when we arrived so we could start fresh our first full day.
Staying at Martha’s Guesthouse
That led us to stay our first night at Martha’s Guesthouse in downtown San Ignacio. I HIGHLY recommend staying there – the room was massive and lovely, the location was smack dab in the middle of town and within walking distance of everything on our list, they have a restaurant on-site, and the price was super low, especially for what it was (~$65 USD/night).
They were also very communicative and friendly, stored our luggage during our day downtown, and helped us secure a taxi out to Mahogany Hall.
The only real downside I could see was that they don’t have an elevator – be prepared to carry all of your things up several flights of stairs. Or, like us, pack light!
Staying at Mahogany Hall
There are so many resort options around San Ignacio. I didn’t know where to begin. My friend’s sister stayed at Mahogany Hall in November so I was a bit partial to her recommendation, but what sealed the deal was it was available through our Chase Sapphire rewards points. We were able to book three nights for a total of ~$70 USD. No brainer.
Staying at Mahogany Hall ended up being it’s own wonderful experience as part of our overall adventures in Belize. I really loved staying there and actually taking advantage of what it had to offer, which was much more than a bed to crash in each night.
Getting to Mahogany Hall
Mahogany Hall is an intimate, boutique hotel – 8 rooms in total! – and it’s in Bullet Tree Falls, which is about 3-4 miles from downtown San Ignacio. It cost us $10 USD for a taxi one-way, which we understood to be a little high. Another couple staying there actually walked to town one morning for the exercise, so that is also an option!
Just before you reach the Mopan River, you’ll take a left onto a secluded, rural, potholed, dirt road, which you will bump along until you reach Mahogany Hall on your right. Brian later informed me he had a moment of panic that our taxi driver was taking us out into the jungle, never to be seen again. Do not fear – when you reach the dirt road, you are almost there!
Additionally, the hotel is only a 25-minute drive from the San Ignacio airport, where we caught a short flight over to Caye Caulker for the second half of our trip. They arranged a taxi for us on the morning we left so we had nothing to worry about.
Amenities at Mahogany Hall
As I mentioned, this is a small operation. If you’re looking for multiple dining options and room service, fitness facilities and on-site spa, etc., this is not the place for you.
However, if you’re looking for delicious food, a relaxing pool and patio, river activities with the locals, choirs of birds in the morning, and friendly staff, you may love it here as much as we did. (Shoutout to José, the amazing bartender/waiter/all around helpful guy featured in the photo above who made our visit extra special!)
We ordered breakfast and dinner each day (there is a lovely array of breakfast options but only two dinner entrees to chose from each night – picky eaters, beware) and we enjoyed cocktails at the bar or on the deck overlooking the river before our evening meal.
Everything we ate was great. Rum and rum-based cocktails were better than those featuring other spirits (we should have known that – when in Rome).
We scheduled two excursions through Mahogany Hall – a day-long ATM tour (highly recommend) and a half-day trip to nearby Xunantunich (also recommend). They arranged the transportation to and from the hotel as well as the tour itself – the logistics were seamless.
We did not get a lot of information in advance about departure time, things to take with us, if we could borrow pool towels, etc. Everything went swimmingly, we just had to ask – don’t expect a lot of proactive instruction or information.
Rooms at Mahogany Hall
When I went into Chase to book our room, only the standard room on the second floor was available.
The room was lovely and just what we needed – comfy bed, private bath, and a shared deck with tables and chairs overlooking the pool, grounds, and Mopan River.
Our last night we got upgraded to the honeymoon suite on the third floor because they had people arriving with multi-night stays who needed the standard rooms.
Brian was a little grumpy about having to pack up his things and move, but I loved the suite with in-room whirlpool tub and coffee maker!
Things to Do at Mahogany Hall
If eating, drinking, sleeping, relaxing, meeting people, admiring the parrots, going on excursions, and wandering the grounds are not enough to occupy your time and attention, may I recommend joining the locals for a dip in the Mopan River, which literally runs through the hotel’s backyard.
When we asked José, who is from Bullet Tree Falls, what he likes to do for fun/when he’s not working, he said ‘the river!’
We read that Mahogany Hall had tubes you could borrow to ride down the river but the current was pretty strong and we weren’t exactly clear how we would get back to the hotel after our journey downstream so we opted to just go swimming.
There were lots of local kids playing in the water, two moms with a baby, and a small group of adults all floating along the bank. If you’re looking for an authentic experience, this is it!
Two of the older kids made their way around a small island in the middle of the river to the rapids – known colloquially as ‘God’s waterslide’ – and would slowly inch into the current only to be shot quickly down the river along the right bank.
We had to try that out!
Here’s a video of me bobbing along – banging up my legs and scratching my knee along the rocks on my way (totally worth it)!
And one Brian tried to take during his own run through the shoot – HA! Sound on to hear me laughing in the background!
I loved our time at Mahogany Hall and would stay there again in a heartbeat!