Carrera 10A #67-66, Chapinero, Bogota
Overview: Bogota's Kozii Hostel is located in a charming and safe part of Chapinero known as Quinta Camacho. It's a superb location for exploring all Bogota has to offer: you're half way in between the museums, history, and cultural attractions to the south in el Centro and la Candelaria, and the financial, dining, and entertainment centers to the north on Calle 72, Zona Rosa, Parque 93, and Usaquen. And to make things even better, you're just three blocks from the Flores Transmilenio stop, and steps from la 7 (Carrera 7), la 11, and la 15/17, where you can catch a bus to anywhere in the city.
Neighborhood: It's a safe neighborhood with many pleasant attractions in its own right, including the stunning Iglesia Nuestra Senora de Lourdes, el Campin stadium, where Bogota's powerhouse Millonarios and Santa Fe teams play (in the Liga Postobon), and the upscale dining district Zona G, which was recently given a stellar review by Conde Nast Traveler.
How to Get There: If you're arriving at Bogota's El Dorado International Airport, a taxi should be about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on traffic, and will most likely cost around $25.000. If you arrive to Bogota via la Terminal (Bogota's main bus terminal), the time and cost are slightly less. However, remember that as with all transportation in Bogota, it depends on traffic. From 6am to 9am and 4pm to 8pm, expect to hit significant traffic jams.
Management/Staff: Kozii Hostel is the brainchild of Claudia, a Bogota-native who wanted to provide an alternative to the party hostel scene you largely find downtown in la Candelaria. It's a great addition to lodging options in Bogota: It's got dormitories to accommodate backpackers, but also features several beautifully decorated private rooms. It's a great option for solo travelers, couples, and backpackers alike. Even business travelers looking for proximity to Calle 72 (Bogota's financial center) will feel at home here.
The staff is top-notch, and always ready to greet you at the door with a smile.
Rooms: Kozii Hostel offers guests six room choices, all delightfully named after different plants.
Shared Rooms: Upstairs you'll find the wonderful Cherry Tree dormitory, with its lovely polished wood ceiling; it sleeps 12 guests in bunkbeds. There's the Caracoli room with space for 4 guests in 2 bunkbeds, and the Bamboo, which features three single beds.
Private Rooms: If you're looking for a little luxury, try the Dandelion room, equipped with a private bath, spacious closet, cable TV, and a specatcular view of the cordillera (mountain range) east of Bogota. There's also the Almond room, the hostel's most private, which features the best view, and its own private bathroom as well. Or, if you're looking for a shared private room, the Eucalyptus is your best bet. It has one double bed and one single bed, so it's perfect for group travelers, especially if you're a group of three traveling together.
Amenities: Hostel Kozii is competitively priced with hotels in the area, but if offers special guest amenities that you won't find in a hotel.
There is a wonderful kitchen for guest use, with a refrigerator, microwave, rangetop stove, oven, and coffee maker. It's equipped with fine dishes, cutlery, utensils, and pots and pans. Unlike in many hostel kitchens (with few amenities), you can actually cook a nice meal here in comfort. Plus, there is a Carulla (high-end supermarket) just a few minutes walk away on Calle 70 with late hours (open til 11pm on weekdays and 9pm on weekends).
Breakfast is included in the price, and it's served daily from 7am to 10am. Help yourself to fruit, croissants, butter and jam, and coffee and/or tea. You'll enjoy your breakfast in a bar area in the courtyard which features a large skylight overhead.
Claudia is currently working on a second floor terrace which should be completed soon, and you'll certainly enjoy the hanging gardens and lush vines and foliage that line the inviting patio area out back.
There is a spacious TV lounge with cable, PlayStation 3 (which can also be used as a DVD player), and comfortable chairs. There's also an indoor dining area, where you can enoy the meals you've prepared.
There are two computers available for guest use in the lobby, free of charge.
Bicycles are available at economical prices for guest rental: It's just $35.000 per day, or $30.000 on Sundays, when Bogota comes alive for the "Ciclovia", when la Septima (Carrera 7) is closed off to car traffic, and Bogota turns into a bicycling/roller-blading/jogging paradise!
Conclusion: So if you're looking for a centrally located, safe, and hospitable location, Kozii Hostel is your best bet. It's easy to get to anywhere in the city (whether you're heading south to La Candelaria/Centro or north to Calle 72/Zona Rosa/Parque 93/Usaquen), and the staff will make you feel right at home. It's competitively priced, and it's a got a cozy, family-oriented atmosphere. It's not a party hostel, but if you want to party, you've got numerous options within walking distance.
Kozii Hostel comes highly recommended by Visit Colombia!
Calle del Guerrero 29B-119, Getsemani, Cartagena, Bolivar
(035) 664.1315 or 664.5935
Overview: Casa Sweety Hotel Boutique is a gem for tourists and travelers seeking high quality lodging in Getsemani. Located on a quiet street half way in between Calle de la Media Luna and Iglesia la Trinidad, it offers a spectacular location, wonderful service, luxurious rooms, a beautiful pool and courtyard area filled with tropical foliage, and a magnificent roof-top terrace featuring panoramic views of Getsemani and the surrounding areas.
Neighborhood: Getsemani is the neighborhood that constitutes the southeastern quadrant of Cartagena. It retains a more authentic Colombian feel than its northern neighbors in the Centro and San Diego, but still boasts world-class dining, lodging, nightlife and activities, all within walking distance. Plus, you are just a five minute walk to the Torre del Reloj, the Muelle (where boats for Isla Rosario and Playa Blanca depart), and the Cartagena Convention Center.
How to Get There: If you're arriving from Cartagena's Rafael Nunez Airport it's just a ten minute ride in an official yellow taxi (provided it's not rush hour) and costs just $10.000 ($5 US).
Management/Staff: Casa Sweety is boutique hostel in the best sense of the word, and French owner Anthony has clearly put a great deal of thought into the details.
The staff is extremely knowledgeable about Cartagena and the surrounding areas, and can assist you with restaurant recommendations, the best places to enjoy Cartagena's renowned nightlife, and coordination of trips to beaches and the islands that have attracted international tourists for decades. During my time there, the staff was able to direct me to suitable restaurants for many different types of cuisine (Argentine, Peruvian, Colombian, Japanese, seafood, Italian) at different budget levels as well.
Rooms: In total, there are seven bedrooms: papa gallo, tucan, colibri, estandard, and three smaller upstairs mezzanine bedrooms. Papa gallo and tucan are the luxury suites, featuring enormous efficiency-style accommodation. They offer sofas and coffee tables, a large closet/wardrobe area, a combination safe, and are decorated with replica works by renowned Medellin artist Fernando Botero. The bathrooms are spacious and elegantly appointed with modern chrome fixtures and brick motifs. The house is available to rent as individual bedrooms, or you have the option of renting out the entire house on a daily or weekly basis. This is a great option for families, companies, or tour groups.
Amenities: The hotel opens onto a courtyard and living room area where guests can relax over a beverage, read a book from the hotel library, or enjoy the magnificent full-sized table in the billiards room. There is a fully equipped kitchen for guest use, as well as in-house laundry facilities.
The kitchen is fully equipped, and you will quickly feel like you're cooking in your own home. It features toasters, a Foreman grill, a blender, a juice squeezer, superb utensils, fine dishes, a coffee maker, a four range-top stove and oven, and a very large refrigerator and freezer. Breakfast is prepared fresh daily and typically includes scrambled eggs, toast, fruit, omelettes, juice, milk, and coffee. And after you've cooked in the kitchen, there is a full-sized dining room table which can accommodate up to eight guests.
The pool/jacuzzi area is lined with beautiful Colombian plants and foliage and there are lounge chairs for catching some rays. It's a great place to unwind at the end of the day, take a quick dip, and enjoy a refreshing beverage. Or, you can head up to the third floor terrace where you'll find elegant cast iron patio furniture, and some spectacular views of Getsemani. The common areas are decorated with a Latin American travel theme, that's both chic and homey.
Conclusion: So whether you're headed to Cartagena for business or pleasure, Casa Sweety is the best option if you're looking for high-end accommodation in the hear of Getsemani. It's a great option for family trips, tours, corporations, groups that are travelling to the nearby Cartagena Convention Center, or for tourists and sightseers who want to be close to all the important sites in Cartagena but prefer the more authentic feel of Getsemani.
You're steps from all the architectural, historical, cultural, and entertainment wonders of Cartagena, and the wonderful staff will quickly make you feel like you're in your own home!