My Favorite Airbnb A Luxe Bohemian Enclave in Nicaragua's Colorful Granada
Jen Chase
Places to Stay

My Favorite Airbnb: A Luxe, Bohemian Enclave in Nicaragua's Colorful Granada

One writer was in search of sunshine and design—and found it in a rental that looks more like a boutique hotel.

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When it comes to traveling somewhere for the first time, I love to arrive in the evening when you can’t quite make out all the details yet. This added layer of mystery and intrigue lends itself to a gratifying reveal. There’s something about waking up the following morning with fresh eyes and a burst of adrenaline ready to venture into the unknown.

Packed with unbelievable biodiversity and vibrant art, Nicaragua has been on my radar for quite some time as a must-see destination long overshadowed by its next-door neighbor, Costa Rica. When the timing aligned perfectly for an end-of-the-year adventure, my bags were packed without any further convincing for a stay at this epic Airbnb. Casa Violeta’s owner, Katalina Mayorga, is a travel industry MVP and co-founder of the award-winning company El Camino Travel

If there ever were an award for the most divine entry to a place, Casa Violeta would take the cake. Dubbed Banana Alleyway, the quaint, leafy avenue Casa Violeta sits on, with its Spanish-style houses and cobblestone road, is straight-up cinematic. This bohemian enclave is located in Nicaragua’s colorful colonial town of Granada, which is just under an hour’s driving distance from Managua Airport. Located right on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America, Granada is surrounded by magnificent volcanoes and natural beauty. Easily walkable and laid-back, Granada is best explored on foot to fully appreciate its colorful, centuries-old architecture. 

Upon waking up my first morning, I made my way downstairs, sank into one of the textile-lined nooks in the courtyard, and enjoyed a coffee. Designed by Jean-Marc Houmard and Yvan Cussigh, owners of the nearby boutique design hotel, Tribal Hotel, Casa Violeta takes inspiration from traditional Moroccan riads, an architectural style that is famous for serene courtyards.

Turkish kilims and custom-made furniture outfit the living spaces.

Jen Chase

Modern art from contemporary Nicaraguan artists such as ceramist Joel Gaitan and local market finds are sprinkled throughout the villa, which can accommodate up to six people across its three bedrooms. Each is outfitted with a king-size bed that can be split into two twins, equipped with air conditioning units, and has its own private bathroom. The rooms are all located on the second floor with panoramic views.

Everything revolves around the pool here, the home’s showstopping centerpiece. On schedule-free mornings I lounged leisurely on the built-in daybeds, which are blanketed in the grooviest striped fabrics. And on the afternoons when I was busy, I snuck in refreshing five-minute plunges into the pool between my back-to-back calls. 

The kitchen, though, is the beating heart of the home. It has a sophisticated all-black palette and is a space perfectly designed for cooking and for gathering. Boasting plenty of counter space, modern appliances, a large refrigerator, dishwasher, and all the nice-to-haves such as a French press, a variety of pots and pans, glassware, and utensils, you’re covered across the spectrum, whether you're whipping up a quick breakfast or hosting a grand dinner party. 

The dining room table is fit for dinner parties.

Jen Chase

One of the home's three bedrooms, featuring a king-size bed that can be split in two.

Jen Chase

For an additional cost, the team at Casa Violeta can arrange an assortment of experiences, such as yoga classes, rooftop massages (Manuel is the best), cooking classes, walking tours, and art tours with Nicaraguan gallerist Andres Lazar, who is tapped into the country's food, art, and design scenes. 

If you’re an eternal sun-chaser like me, there’s no better way to kick back than with a sunset massage. Maybe it was a bit extravagant, but I ended up booking an all body-massage, taking place on-site at the villa's rooftop, almost every day during my nine-day stay. But hey, I’m on vacation.

The writer couldn't resist dipping in the pool between her back-to-back calls.

Jen Chase

The design scheme takes inspiration from traditional Moroccan riads.

Jen Chase

Casa Violeta is also just a seven-minute walk from the coziest coffee shop and restaurant in town, the Garden Café, a local hangout with super fresh food on the menu. Think nourishing smoothies, fresh-from-the-boat fish tacos with hearty homemade green curries, and red lentil dahls. Xiomara Díaz and Damien Hopkins, the owners and work-and-life partners behind it, have extended their mastery to NM Culinary Granada, a new project combining traditional Mediterranean preparations with seasonal Nicaraguan ingredients. It's worth checking out for dinner.

Inside tip: Casa Violeta books up at lightning speed, months in advance. Whether you're in need of a solo trip, craving a reunion with friends, or seeking an intimate getaway to explore your artistic side, Casa Violeta is a home base that suits all. Of course, come for the awe-inspiring aesthetics, but stay to discover all that Granada has to offer.