Nicaragua: Leon – Hotel El Convento Leon
Perhaps the most unique place to stay in Leon is Hotel El Convento. It is located right in the heart of the city and the historic structure takes out nearly a whole block. It’s a square colonial building with a giant courtyard in the middle. The building was originally the San Francisco Convent, founded in 1639. In 1829 the government booted all religious orders from the country and decreed that the convent should be used as an educational institution. But the government funds ran dry and the building was totally abandoned and became a refuge of homeless and criminals. Several more attempts to use the building as a college failed over the years, and finally in the 1980s the building was bombed during the war. In 1995, a hotel was built on the site, very closely restoring the original colonial design and feel. The hotel is spectacular and very antique in its look and appearance – the rooms, the hallways, the dining area and the restaurant, and especially the courtyard – it feels like a museum. The hotel is connected to the Iglesia San Francisco just next door.