Where to Stay in Belize City: 6 Hotel Picks
Flying into Belize from North America means arriving into Belize City, anywhere from late morning to mid-afternoon.
Some choose to head straight to their next destination in Belize, while others stay in the city for a night, giving themselves time to rest and visit nearby attractions like the Belize Zoo or the Baboon Sanctuary.
Of course, some will tell you to “skip” this city altogether because “there’s nothing there” or “it’s dangerous.”
So before I talk hotels, I have to get this out: Belize City is like any other urban area in the world – it has its good and bad neighborhoods. It’s not any more dangerous than certain parts of say, Washington DC or Kingston. Stay north (where you’d be staying anyway and where downtown is), avoid the south, don’t walk alone at night (why would you anyway) and you’ll be just fine. Don’t let any of the “it’s so dangerous” comments you unearth online stop you from staying here for at least a full day.
Of course, safety should always come first wherever you go – no flashy jewelry or equipment in plain view, walk with confidence and if you can, don’t dress like you’re at the beach – it’s a city after all. (I know most of my readers already know this, just throwing it out there!)
In September I spent almost three full weeks in Belize City to cover all of the >> month-long Independence celebrations. I walked to town numerous times from my hotels and was fine. I did get lost once but immediately noticed when it got super quiet and deserted, and I just retraced my steps. Other times I called a taxi (at night) and arranged for pick up times. I got to see Belize City for what it really is – a city with that authentic Caribbean hustle and bustle, and a lot more happening than meets the eye.
The nearby Belize Zoo is definitely worth a visit and not like your average zoo at home. But while you’re here, catch some of the Kriol culture and history of Belize by visiting the Museum of Belize and the House of Culture. Have lunch at a laid-back local spot called Suly’s and relax at a seaside park like the BTL Park. For dinner, take a taxi to Bird’s Isle Restaurant for a seaside dinner or to the Tavern for a more “sports bar” type atmosphere. Finish the night off with a relaxing night cap at the Tinto y Blanco Wine Bar inside the Great House Hotel or by dancing away to a live DJ on Thirsty Thursdays‘ outdoor deck.
Now, where to stay? Here are the six that I recommend, all of which are a great base from which to explore the city and surrounding areas.
What I loved: The owner, the cozy rooms with free wi-fi, the breakfasts and the quiet location.
Francoise is a wonderful host – she hails from Belgium and has a very interesting expat life story that she’ll happily tell you in her lovely French accent. The hot breakfasts are included and different every day – I loved not knowing what I’d have that day – and usually local dishes, courtesy of her lovely Mayan housekeeper. The guesthouse, located in a residential area, feels like a friend’s vacation villa and it never felt crowded or loud. If you’re not one for typical hotel rooms, this place is it. You’ll need a taxi to get around, but just ask Francoise – she has some numbers of reliable drivers.
What I wished: That it were a little closer to town. But then, it wouldn’t be the restful villa retreat that it is, would it?
Price range: US$59-$69
What I loved: The location, the burger (it’s so good), free wi-fi for guests, the Sunday breakfast buffet and french bakery/cafe Le Petit across the street.
The Radisson is a safe bet, with all the hotel amenities to be expected and some solid lunch options. The perks are its walking-distance location from the water taxis, a swimming pool (given that there are no beaches in Belize City even though it is seaside), a delicious French bakery across the street with some great gourmet coffee and stuffed “johnny cakes” and other pastries. Oh and the convenience of local Digicel phone credit sold in the lobby every day until 9pm.
What I wished: That I could use the pool and the wi-fi while having lunch at the Radisson, even if staying next door at the Great House or at Chateau Caribbean!
Price range: US $150-$250
What I loved: The spacious suites that made me feel like I was in a mansion, the cable TV with lot of great channels (even though I barely watched), the super fast wi-fi in my room, and a wine bar on the premises.
What I wished for: A better view (like the seafront Radisson or Chateau Caribbean), but sometimes you can’t have it all.
Price range: US $135-$150
What I loved: The staff, the food (surprisingly good Chinese as well as Belizean dishes), the location and the free wi-fi in my room (yes wi-fi is my life).
This is the most basic of all the hotels in terms of accommodations. But it’s clean and there’s A/C as well as free wi-fi in the room. It’s the local favorite for a weekend in town – and quite a few times the restaurant (a dining room upstairs) was busy with residents stopping by for lunch or Sunday breakfast. The local dishes – like the chicken stew and rice and beans – were all very good and at reasonable prices (not as cheap as in town, of course, but worth it if you’re looking for convenience. They even do room service). It’s also just a few steps next to the Radisson.
The hotel has been around for many years, and the rooms are old-school (including things like the carpet and curtains) but the place is clean, the rooms serviced daily and the staff super accommodating. I love staying in a place where all I see is smiles.
What I wished for: A key to the main entrance so I wouldn’t have to knock when I get back after midnight. But I never had to wait more than a couple of minutes. There was always a security guard outside and a front desk attendant as late as 3am.
Price range: US $69-$95
What I loved: The river views, the staff, the room and the pool.
Experiencing one of Belize’s gorgeous river lodges is a great way to start a trip. You get to wind down while taking in the sounds of howler monkeys and birds chirping in the morning. Yet you’re a short 20 to 30 minute ride from town or from other activities like a visit to the Baboon Sanctuary or the Belize Zoo. Black River Lodge, a Belizean family-owned resort, has wonderful staff – look for Beverly, she’ll find you anyway even if you don’t, to make sure everything is going perfect (really, she amazes me).
The rooms are spacious and the upstairs one I had had a lovely riverfront balcony with seating. The pool is also beautiful and well-kept – with lots of shaded seating areas. Locals tend to come here on Friday afternoons for happy hour and a swim, to getaway from the city.
What I wished for: I can’t think of anything; but it would have been even better to experience with friends or a significant other than solo.
Price range: From US $135
What I loved: The setting, the home-cooked meals, the family owners and the staff.
Belize River Lodge is almost out of a novel. Set along the Belize River, with a beautifully-manicured yard fenced with flowers and a main lodge that feels like your uncle’s home vacation home. Home-cooked meals are served three times a day and oh my, were they delicious and a great way to learn about Belizean cuisine. Fishing aficionados usually stay here but the lodge also offers all sorts of eco tours. It’s a great spot for a quick weekend getaway to Belize, as it’s only a 20-minute ride from Belize City.
What I wished: That the wi-fi reached my room (but let’s face it, only because I was working!).
Price range: Contact the lodge for pricing.
One last tip: A super nice driver and knowledgeable tour guide I recommend, based in Belize City and great for airport pick-ups, transfers to other areas or for a Belize City tour is Mr. Lascelle Tillett of S&L Tours. Tell him the Ethiopian travel writer sent you!
Note: My stay in Belize City was sponsored by the Belize Tourism Board, but all opinions and recommendations are my own.