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