El Cortijo del Lago is the perfect place if you’re looking for a couple of days of solitude and a break from travel and sightseeing. The hotel’s name is means ‘farmhouse of the lake’, which accurately describes the experience. Located directly on the shore of Lake Yojoa, this little hotel offers spectacular views of the lake seen from the large rooms and also from large, comfortable hammocks on a screened-in porch.
With the nearest village, Pena Blanca, 7 kilometers away, there is almost nothing around to distract you from relaxing – except for the 377 kinds of birds who call Lake Yojoa home. The birds are fascinating and are what make the lake famous. The majority of visitors are in fact birdwatchers.
We opted for the cheapest private room option for US$16 when booking online, and had rather low expectations on arrival. Talk about pleasant surprises – the room was three times the size of rooms in that price range and has a private bathroom with hot water plus a TV and fresh, soft towels. And (not that this distinction should ever have to be made) the windows are actually glass and the door is thick and sturdy, locking out mosquitoes out who would otherwise eat you up.
El Cortijo del Lago identifies as a hotel, but also has dorm beds for $8. For those travelers not on such a tight budget can stay in a larger cabin room for $24 or a lakeside cabin for $26. The family-friendly three-bedroom house on site comes with a filly equipped kitchen for $74 per night.
The owners, John, a US expat, and his Honduran wife Marta welcome you with open arms, and John happily offers boat tours of the tranquil, expansive lake. Kayaks are available for a more active way to explore the lake, and there is a National Park near Lake Yojoa. Ask John how to arrange transport, since travel connections in Honduras can prove mesmerizingly difficult to tourist destinations.
Their small staff of hardworking 20-something students go above and beyond to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The on-site restaurant serves excellent breakfast, large mugs of strong coffee and a varied dinner menu. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of fish options at this lakeside restaurant.
Out on a secluded lake in under-developed Honduras, to expect Wi-Fi might seem an imaginative leap, but the wi-fi connection on the screened-in porch was speedy and reliable. We managed to avoid total relaxation by getting heaps of work done during our stay at El Cortijo.
Now back to the porch – there are two couches and three hammocks, and all have lake views. It is screened-in, keeping out mosquitoes which thrive in this humid lake environment, meaning you can spend evenings out in the hammock as well as lazing the day away in them, too. The restaurant has loads of English-language books and board games, too, for even more relaxation options.
The other excellent benefit of staying at El Cortijo de Lago is that it is the only hotel in the area with direct access to the lake, so you can just hop in the kayak or on the boat and get going.
Room for improvement
Although we had read somewhere that the hotel is vegetarian-friendly, the restaurant’s veggie options are very limited. This was disappointing considering the isolated nature of the area and distance to the nearest restaurant. We spent a quiet New Year’s Eve with John, Marta and their family, however, and the food, including the vegetarian food, was delicious, – soft long-grain rice, beans, and a few mouth-watering vegetable dishes – so we know they can do vegetarian food well.
Because most visitors to Honduras head out to the Bay Islands, gorgeous places like Lake Yojoa remain hidden gems, but due to low visitor numbers, accommodation can be over-priced or lack basic amenities visitors expect. El Cortijo del Lago manages to supply guests with everything they need for a peaceful (or very productive!) getaway.
Location: Lake Yojoa, 3 km from La Guama, which is on the main highway (CA 5) between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. Check website for detailed arrival description.
Price: starting at $16 for a double room, $8.00 dorms, $74.00 family apartment
LGBT Friendly: unsure
Digital Nomad Friendly: A resounding yes
Amenities: Wi-Fi, cable TV, hot showers, hammocks, lake views, kayaks