There’s a lot to love about Nicaragua. The up-and-coming vacation spot boasts untouched beaches, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and affordable hotels. One of the Nicaragua hotels we love is the modern-rustic-meets-tropical-colonial Tribal Hotel. Here’s a look inside the hip (and affordable!) property.
One sip of a perfectly balanced pineapple caipirinha, and it’s readily apparent every element of the boutique Tribal Hotel is crafted with taste. Hand-pressed tiles made down the street lay bold lines under locally built furniture with modern, yet totally Nicaraguan flare, and a square plunge pool dominates an intimate courtyard stuffed with tropical plantings and lit by flickering candles at night. The lime juice is even freshly squeezed.
A sense of belonging
Colorful facades of homes along the quiet residential side street make the white exterior wall of the seven-room Nicaragua hotel stand apart. Intentionally set just outside the bustle of Grenada’s beautiful, yet weathered center, the surrounding neighborhood evokes a sense of belonging, as each evening grannies drag rocking chairs onto the sidewalk to enjoy cooler air, and families leave doors open spilling forth the sounds of everyday Nicaraguan life.
Walk to Calle La Calzada
Though the setting feels far removed, it’s but a three-block walk to Calle La Calzada (left), a pedestrian avenue lined with lively restaurants and bars with astonishingly good prices. The town’s cathedrals are worth exploring too, especially Iglesia La Merced (right), where the bell tower provides a sweeping view over streets below and the towering, active volcanoes beyond.
A close eye on every detail
“Here you don’t buy planks of wood. You buy a tree,” says Yvan Cussigh, who designed the Nicaragua hotel with his New York-based partner, Jean-Marc Houmard. He embraced the practice by turning castaway pieces from local lumber suppliers into art pieces, which adorn bedrooms and common spaces. Yvan keeps a close eye on every detail, including his three attentive and personable clerks: Ezekiel (left), Erick, and Byron (previously pictured), who manage the desk, bartend and guide. Their pineapple caipirinha game is strong, and they’re happy to teach bachata to anyone with willing hips.
Drink, swim, repeat.
The tropical courtyard oasis at Tribal is probably the best place to shake a hangover in the colonial city of Granada. Unfortunately, it’s the guys working the desk — Erick, Byron and Ezekiel — that probably caused it. Life has its ironies.
Close to the sights
The Granada Cathedral, in its bright hue of yellow, is a standout architectural feature of the Spanish-colonial city edging the shore of the immense Lake Nicaragua. Its plaza is also a center of activity with horse-drawn carriages lined up for tours and vendors selling fruits and ice cream.
Sip and mingle
By dusk the intimate courtyard at Tribal comes aglow with dozens of candles. Cussigh and Houmard took great care to source all of their kilims and many of their textiles from Istanbul, and Nicaraguan welders made wrought iron candleholders and sconces to give shape to the flickering candlelight. It’s the perfect place to mingle with other travelers, and sip cocktails before dinner on the town.
Stylish yet affordable
Cussigh says half of his guests come after seeing one photo on Instagram (the courtyard, of course). They tend to be mid 20’s to mid 30’s, and stay three nights before heading to the beach in San Juan del Sur. They’re willing to pay more for his stylish digs, but “more” is a loose term, globally speaking. Rates start at only $135.
The palettes of white and natural wood tones are offset by brightly colored kilims and Nicaraguan crafts. Art pieces are everywhere and well curated, and every detail down to the room keys has been styled with a careful eye.
A suite view
Each room at Tribal has a private balcony or terrace, where complimentary breakfast is served every morning. Though, the boutique’s two suites (above) have much larger terraces overlooking the courtyard. Just like the hotel, they’re the kind of place you don’t mind lazing around all day listening to the banana leaves rustle in the breeze, pineapple caipirinha in hand.