Bad Bogota Hostels, I’m Calling You Out!

If you are backpacking in Colombia, you are well aware of the proliferation of hostels in La Candelaria, the old part of Bogota. It seems like everyone who can afford to buy a house and cram a couple of dorm beds in a room thinks they can open up a hostel.

This weekend, I left my comfortable hostel in Chapinero to stay in La Candelaria. I’ve now stayed at 5 hostels in Bogota, and have made a reservation at one other. Now, it’s time to separate the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m calling you guys out!

Bad Hostel #1: Hotel Internacional

This hostel is one of the cheaper options in Bogota, with a single private room costing 18,000 pesos, or about $9 USD. I called to make a reservation for this weekend a day in advance, and spoke with a friendly girl who took down my info and told me to come after 5 pm. The day of, I called just before 5 pm and spoke to a rather rude man. He informed me that my reservation had been canceled because I didn’t come at 1 pm which is check-in time. I tried to explain to him that I was told to come later, which is when he began to become irate and abruptly ended the conversation.

Hey, Hotel Internacional: Maybe you guys can review your hotel policy regarding check-in time, change it to something less stupid, and make sure all your employees are on the same page.

Bad Hostel #2: Platypus Hostel

The Platypus is one of the more popular options in La Candelaria, though I’m not sure why. After my experience with #1, I made a new last-minute reservation here. The lady on the phone sounded quite competent. She told me there is availability for both nights, but I would have to change rooms after the first night because of other reservations. No problem. I arrived late on Friday, and was told I had booked a dorm. Ummm, no. It was nothing too bad, because the room I requested was still available.

They aren’t a horrible hostel, but they did mess up my reservation and the wifi wasn’t working in my room. One notable point, however, was that they put me in a separate house down the street where they had more private rooms. Sounds okay, right? The thing is, they didn’t bother to ask me for my passport, nor my last name, nor proof I am who I said I am, and they gave me keys to a room down the street without paying first. If I was a more shady traveler, I could have easily left without paying. It doesn’t pay to be lazy, Platypus Hostel.

Bad Hostel #3, and Today’s Winner: Villa Candelaria Hostel

I decided to change hostels after my first night in Platypus. I found Villa Candelaria around the corner. It seemed quiet enough and I was able to talk the price down, so moving was a no-brainer. When my travel companion and I moved into our new room, we were surprised by our new neighbor, a live-in resident who had equipped his small room with huge speakers and a complete DJ-type sound system. He welcomed us with house music at full blast at about noon. We looked at each other with dread, and both privately hoped he would turn it down at a reasonable hour that evening.

With a bag full of dirty laundry, I had no choice but to get it done here. The lady told me it would cost 4,000 pesos per kilo, or $2, which is expensive but I didn’t have many options. About an hour later, she knocked on my door and asked me why I put my dirty clothes in the dryer. Uh, why would I do that? Someone else did, so I had to sort my dirty, hot laundry from someone else’s clean, damp laundry.

When I returned back to the hostel a few hours later, I asked the owner where my laundry was. It was clean this time, but sitting in the dryer with clothes that weren’t mine. So again, I had to sort out my laundry from someone else’s and fold it myself. I really don’t mind doing my own laundry, and actually prefer it, but if I’m paying a high rate to do my laundry, I expect it to be done without needing my help.

Somewhere around 1 a.m., we were awoken by three loud, drunk guests. Did I mention the walls are very thin? It continued for too long. My Spanish-speaking companion asked me if I recognized the accent of the English-speaking girls. Ashamed, I replied, “Yes. They’re Americans.”

When I went into the bathroom for my morning shower, I was greeted with a  roach in the toilet (not the bug, the end of a joint) and ashes spread all over the toilet seat.

The strangest part about this hostel? It is, for some reason, a police hang out. I kid you not – as I write this, I am surround by 7 police officers. Two are using the computers I imagine were put here for guests, and the other 5 are making use of the pool table. Don’t believe me? I was able to take this sneaky snapshot of a few of them.

police in Villa Candelaria Hostel Bogota Colombia

new police hangout at the Villa Candelaria Hostel in Bogota

Have you stayed at a bad hostel in Bogota, or somewhere else? Share your hostel horror stories here.

  • Jeff
    October 3, 2010

    I just heard my first positive comment about a hostel in Bogotá, this time about Platypus. Of course, I have heard several negative ones for Platypus as well. When I was in Bogotá I met a couple of people who had stayed in multiple hostels there (one stayed in 5!) and hated them all. The good news is I mostly enjoyed where I stayed, which was Alegria’s. It was far from perfect and I witnessed some lost reservations and other hiccups (like a couple who asked to switch to a less noisy room and was told when one became available they would be told and never were even though they were there for over a week). Also, all the rooms in the old section (like many other hostels, popularity has led to the opening of an annex) are situated around an enclosed courtyard so even minor noise can be noticeable. Still, I met some great people at that hostel and almost all were considerate guests. The people working there didn’t keep the most consistent presence but they were generally friendly and helpful and Alegria herself made numerous appearances and was quite friendly as well.

  • jasminewanders
    October 4, 2010

    @Jeff thanks for sharing… I actually went to Alegria’s to inquire about long-term rates. The older woman who answered the door looked all scared when I rang the doorbell and she was kind of unhelpful, it was a strange experience.

  • Jeff
    October 4, 2010

    That poor old woman at Alegria’s has to do 90% of the work it seems (cleaning, laundry, watching over the place when the “regular” employees aren’t around, which is often, etc). But, she is basically the cleaning lady NOT someone who is supposed to handle reception. I do wish they wouldn’t put her in that uncomfortable situation so often. If you stay 2 weeks like I did she starts to grow on you though ;-)

  • Bryan Brough
    October 5, 2010

    I stayed in a real bad place when I was in Taman Negara in Malaysia, which is on the opposite side of the river from the Jungle(Like straight up gnarly tiger infested jungle). Can’t remember the name at the moment, it was cheap and for good reason, rooms were about 8×4 and beds very uncomfortable. The screens must have had holes in them because I woke up with mosquito bites all over. Lesson learned, when going to the jungle.. check the screens.

  • Jeff
    October 5, 2010

    I forgot to mention that I actually did hear a couple of other travelers say good things about Destino Nómada.

  • Brett W
    July 11, 2011

    Any hostel/hotel that is that cheap (18,000) should be a place to avoid. Very possible it is run down and the infested with bugs. Platypus is alright, they let me sleep there for free once when I got locked out of my apartment, which was right nearby, I do remember it being noisy and the lack of wifi would not be pleasant. However I believe Platypus is also cheap so you can’t expect much.

     Also the price for laundry you paid is typical. It’s expensive to get your laundry done in la candelaria and Bogota in general. I pay 50,000 (27.00 US) a week to have my clothes washed and that is at a special rate because I know the woman that owns the place.

    Best Hostel I’ve stayed at in Bogota is the Sue Hostel, which is right by Platypus, on the other side of the street down the hill a bit. It was 60,000 a night, but it was very clean, spacious, quiet, wifi works and they have cable in all rooms.

  • Rhowarth
    August 26, 2011

    I always stay at Anandamayi Hostel. I can’t imagine staying anywhere else. They are always friendly and I love the place. Check out their web page.

  • Jasmine Stephenson
    August 26, 2011

    I lived there for a couple of months last year in the bird house, I love that place.

  • Lorene
    September 17, 2012

    Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean bad. I have stayed in Musicology hostel, a few houses down from Anandamayi, and for 18,000 i got breakfast AND dinner. The place was clean, beds comfortable. No frills hostel but for the price what more can you ask. There was wi-fi, they did laundry for 12,000 for 5kg, staff spoke english and was friendly. As a budget traveler I don’t need more than that.

  • Freddy Lansky
    May 29, 2013

    Doing research on Bogota hostels, and your website pops up again :-) Thanks for the advice I was considering Platypus but i’ll look elsewhere

  • Guest
    November 20, 2013

    Hi! Any other good hostels you can recommend in Bogota?

  • Jasmine Stephenson
    November 22, 2013

    It’s been so long since I’ve been back so I couldn’t recommend a hostel unfortunately.

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