The best shopping in Granada, Nicaragua

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In Central America’s most exciting beach destination, this lakeside city is the clever stop-off for island-hoppers and surfers, with colonial streets being reimagined by a fresh wave of switched-on entrepreneurs.

  • The best shopping in Granada, Nicaragua

    Charming antiques

    Behind an unassuming door off a dusty street, El Anticuario is Granada’s greatest treasure-trove, spread around several huge rooms and a courtyard. Felicia Sandino’s magpie eye has resulted in a vintage collection worth trawling through. Committed collectors will find everything from vast dartboards and pastel-painted doors to cargo signs, saintly iconography, buckets of shiny billiard balls and throne-like, turquoise-wicker rocking chairs.

    Address: El Anticuario, Arque Sandino 1 Cuadra al Sur, Granada, Nicaragua


    Telephone: +50 2552-4677

    Real-deal leather

    Nicaragua is famed for the quality of its leather goods. For the best examples, head to Calle + Calle Artwear, which has beautiful hand-stitched bags, satchels and smart biker boots. You can also find sandals, belts, chokers, pendant necklaces and huge, feather-embellished dreamcatchers, as well as wallets and purses (the Postman is a bestseller, along with the boots). The owners, Nicole and Sharam, select their hides carefully before curing them locally.

    Address: Calle + Calle Artwear, Plaza el Tercer Ojo, Calle la Calzada, Granada, Nicaragua


    Telephone: +50 5 2552 4691

  • The best shopping in Granada, Nicaragua

    The cultural hot spot art studio

    The chequer-floored, leafy archways of Casa de los Tres Mundos are hung with paintings from its own studios, where all manner of talks by artists, film-makers, musicians and authors take place (including Francisco Bautista Lara on Nicaragua’s most famous poet, Rubén Darío). There’s even a radio station and a library housing the city archives. A cool and calm central spot, it’s worth a visit to escape the heat of the day. Check out the face made of tiles on the floor – which can be seen only when viewed from above – and the charming cherry-red piano.

    Address: Casa de los Tres Mundos, Plazoleta de los Leones, Calle Cervantes, Granada, Nicaragua


    Telephone: +50 5 2552 4176


    Website: c3mundos.org

    Old-school cigars

    In a colonial house with a lofty stairwell and red-lacquered furniture, Doña Elba Cigars is like something from another world and time. Established in 1996 by Don Silvio Reyes, the company makes more than 100,000 hand-rolled cigars a year. Today, it’s run by his widow, Jennifer Sandino, who grew up in the country’s tobacco capital, Esteli. In the blending room, each step of the process can be seen, and the end product fired up. Try the rare, highly coveted Rosado or Habano, grown from Cuban seed – or ask the master blender to create a bespoke smoke.

    Address: Doña Elba Cigars, 1/2 Block South of Iglesia Xalteva, 1c al Sur, Granada, Nicaragua


    Telephone: + 505 8893 4227


    Website: donaelbacigars.com

    Pictured: Espressonista Café

  • The best shopping in Granada, Nicaragua

    Quirky furniture

    The Mercado Municipal in Masaya, a town just 14km outside Granada, is where the locals shop for everything from furniture to bright children’s toys and drums and shoes handmade by cobblers on site. Pick up one of Rafael López’s carved wooden rocking chairs and a matching child-sized version. Otherwise, enjoy a beer and a quick round of pool at Otecnisa 777, a bar behind corrugated-metal sliding doors near the stacks of Dimensión Costeña reggae CDs.

    Address: Mercado Municipal, Calle El Comercio, Masaya

    Homeware

    The pretty shop, café and gallery Olé is stocked with embroidered cushions, classic Nicaraguan black ceramic crockery, jewellery, printed dresses, and faded pastel tablecloths that double up as sarongs. The designers work on site. It is also a charity, supporting local women’s cooperatives by selling their creations. Sip a coffee in the central square with an eye on the art in progress on the easels.

    Address: Olé, Calle la Calzada, Granada, Nicaragua


    Telephone: +50 5 8895 4287

    Pictured: A bedroom at Hotel Tribal, Granada

  • The best shopping in Granada, Nicaragua

    Ancient ceramics

    In Valentín López’s atelier in San Juan de Oriente, half an hour’s drive from Granada, ceramics are made using ancient indigenous techniques. Clay is softened by dancing on it, then moulded by hand (and foot) and finally painted in vivid turquoise, bottle-green and brick-red using plant dyes. Visit the shop to choose from the rows of bowls, vases, plates and vessels in stripes and waves or engraved with bird and fish motifs in homage to the local wildlife.

    Masks

    Masaya’s Mercado de Artesanías is a hub for arts and crafts, from hand-painted wooden animal masks to hammocks, pottery and meticulously detailed folkloric landscape paintings. Go early before it gets too hot, then stop off at the national park to brave one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

    Address: Mercado de Artesanías, Centro de la Ciudad, Masaya

    Pictured: almond Soup at Espressonista Cafe

  • The best shopping in Granada, Nicaragua

    Where to stay in Granada

    Veteran New York restaurateur Jean Marc Houmard (Indochine, Acme, Tijuana Picnic) and business partner Yvan Cussigh opened Tribal Hotel in 2014 and filled it with eclectic art and fabrics from around the world. Wavy mosaic tiles decorate the pool, engraved animal skulls line the shelves and Turkish kilims soften the black-and-white floor. Traditional craftsmanship is also showcased (look out for the papier-maché masks). Much of the furniture was designed by Cussigh and Houmard and made locally. At night, lit by low glowing lanterns, the twinkly terrace is a gathering place for story-swapping travellers, including Halle Berry and Amanda Hearst. It’s the first of a new breed of boho-chic hotels across Nicaragua.

    Address: Hotel Tribal, Calle Cuiscoma, Granada, Nicaragua


    Telephone: +50 5 2552 0037


    Website: tribal-hotel.com

  • The best shopping in Granada, Nicaragua

    Local know-how

    PATRICIA CASTELLANOS-BUREN, PHOTOGRAPHER

    ‘I like to start the day with fresh fruit juice by the pool at La Casona guesthouse, followed by onion ciabatta at Panadería Artesanal on Calle la Calzada.’

    ‘Mi Museo, near the main square, houses a collection of pre-Columbian artefacts and organises tours to archaeological sites such as El Rayo and Isla El Muerto.’

    ‘A new favourite place to eat is Miss Dell’s Kitchen, across from the San Francisco Convent. Bob Skydell, the owner, is a seasoned chef from Martha’s Vineyard.’

    ‘Hands down the best massages in town are at Balance Spa at ETO Plaza. Nothing compares.’

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