The hotels in Zones 9 and 10 of Guatemala City cost an average of $100 a night. The pensiones of Zone 1 (downtown) cost about $10 if you can survive a shared room, no privacy, and little security.
The Posada Belen offers a viable alternative. The cost is about $30 per night. You get a private bathroom with hot water. A clean private room. Friendly people. Equally important for many travelers is that there are no drugs, no crazies, no people hanging out. If you want to hang out, you probably already know about the Pension Meza. It you want to find someone to pick up, or be picked up, stay at the Pension Meza. If you prefer a quiet inn, with no loud music, then consider the Posada Belen.
The week I stayed at the Posada Belen to check the place out, there were several people from England, France, Germany, and the USA. All were in their 30's to '50's, all had regular jobs (in other words, no drifters).
When I was younger I stayed at the Pension Chalet Suizo, in that era (the 1970's), it was actually owned and run by a lady from Switzerland. It was a great place for meeting and mating. Now, several decades later, I prefer a somewhat more orderly place with charm. The Chalet Suizo (how called a hotel) is a large relatively featureless hotel with countless rooms everywhere. I believe it also charges about $30, which is rather steep considering the small rooms and unimaginative surroundings. I am sure the Suizo is a perfectly alright place, but the charm of former years is definitely changed.
For the same price, just a few blocks away, you can have a family-run place, the Posada Belen. When a family runs a hotel it tends to have a family atmosphere (in other words, less mechanical, less commercial).
The people who work in the Posada Belen had no idea who I was or that I was there to check out the rooms, the service, and the meals. From the moment I set foot in the Posada Belen everyone was friendly and helpful. I noticed the staff was friendly and helpful to everyone else. I would rate the hotel works as excellent. Keep in mind that most hotels in Latin America are run by high school kids (cheap labor). The Posada Belen is run by mature individuals.
Three meals a day are available, if you wish. I liked the pancakes and fresh fruit in the morning. All the kitchen staff are eager to provide what you need (be sure to let them know far in advance, and be realistic that certain foods are not available in Guatmala).
Much to my surprise the place was quiet, actually quieter than the large hotels several blocks away. The reason is that 13 Calle "A" runs only about two blocks, so you get little traffic at night, and especially no buses.
The Posada Belen has an interior patio garden. Overall you escape the concrete nightmare of all Central American central zones. Fortunately, Guatemala City is not as rough as San Salvador, yet a bit more street crime than San Jose, surely the most peaceful of the Central American capital cities. Fortunately, in Guatemala City there are not drug dealers on every corner, indeed it is advisable not to use drugs in Guatemala. This is not Amsterdam or Berkeley.
Downtown Guatemala City is devoid of trees. The entire downtown is covered with concrete, usually crumbling. Diesel fumes from the cheap buses provides a cancerous atmosphere typical of most congested Latin American downtowns. Yet I survived living in Zone 1 for about ten years, so surely you, as a visitor, will survive for a night or so. There simply are no economical alternatives whatsoever in the Zona Viva (Zone 10) or in adjacent Zone 9. Zone 4 offers nothing of particular interest. Zone 1 is definitely where the action is and the place to stay if on a budget. No tourist in their right mind would stay in Zone 2 or anywhere else in the city (unless out by the airport, which is Zone 13 o 14 perhaps, where again, the prices are much higher). There is nothing wrong with Zone 2, it is actually more pleasant than Zone 1, just that nothing goes on in Zone 2, and there is nothing for a tourist to see or do there, not even any bus terminals or anything.
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Posada Belen office
View of bedroom and kitchen
View of outside facade of Posada Belen
Maya archaeology exhibits inside Posada Belen
Cylindrical tripods inside Posada Belen
View of the pleasant interior of Posada Belen