Once we left Cartagena we both felt a load off of our shoulders. From this point on, our trip could be at whatever pace we wanted so long as we were in Sao Paulo by late January. After spending too much time in the cities to this point, we were ready to power sight-see and move as we saw fit.
Finding the Hostel
The longer that we are on the road, the better I am getting at finding the best lodging using our key criteria:
- Good, safe location
- Private room and if possible, en-suite bathroom
- Close to public transportation if it’s a large city
- Positive reviews
- Within our budget of $50 or less, ideally less
While I used to use Kayak to do my searches, I now use Booking.com, an aggregate site which pulls both hotels and hostels as well as Hostelworld, a site which pulls in hostels. Both Booking.com and Hostelworld have reviews of the properties split out by cleanliness, location, etc. This makes it much easier for us to narrow down what is most important to us.
When searching in Medellin, the Geo Hostel had great reviews with particularly high scores for cleanliness and location, my top priorities. I emailed them directly to make my reservation, something I do whenever possible to avoid these small businesses from paying any booking fees.
I tried to make a 3 night reservation, but the hostel only had availability for 2 nights. This ended up working perfectly for us as the 3rd night we stayed in Guatape, a city 2 hours away.
We booked a GeoSuite room. Once we got to our room we were very happy with how clean everything was. While the room was very minimalist and could have used some artwork on the walls, it was still great.
Our room faced the street which was nice, but at night the restaurant across the street would play quite loud music. Spending the night before on a bus, we could have slept through anything. The bed itself was pretty comfortable and the fleece blanket on the bed gave us the right amount of warmth to sleep very well.
The bathroom was really new and modern. While it was small, we had everything that we needed. Plus the shower had decently hot water, something that is a pretty big plus in South America.
Funny enough, we ended up staying a 3rd night at the GeoHostel after we were unable to book a bus from Medellin to Bogota the evening that we wanted to go. Even though there were no double rooms available, the hostel gave us a 4 person room for a 2 person price. We were thrilled that we didn’t have to go all over town looking for a place to stay. The only negative about our new room was that we had no hot water for showers the next morning, which was disappointing.
The area right around the hostel is great. There are restaurants, bars and shops all over the place. It reminded me of the Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhoods in Chicago – the demographic was young and the types of shops were very similar.
We never felt unsafe when we were in the neighborhood. There were police officers all over the place, something that we became accustomed to during our time in Colombia. While you think that seeing cops everywhere may make you feel less safe (wondering why there are cops everywhere), it was the opposite – they were making sure that everything was orderly and there was no trouble.
If you are going anywhere else in town, it is a 15 minute walk to the metro station. We took quite a few trips to the train station throughout our time in Medellin, preferring to go to the train station which was a downhill walk, not going back to the hostel where it was uphill the entire way.
The staff was great at helping us out whenever we needed anything. While the morning shift guy was not nearly as friendly as the afternoon or night shift guy, I think it was just his personality.
Our room had a number pad to access it instead of a traditional key. This was quite nice as we didn’t have to worry about forgetting or losing our key.
The only parts that we didn’t like about the key free room were:
- There was no additional way to lock the room from the inside for added security
- The code was not very unique, someone could have easily guessed the code for each of the rooms
Whenever we get breakfast included in our room rate we get quite excited. It helps us save a few bucks and not have to decide where to go out to eat. The first morning we got a ham sandwich with juice which was quite odd to both of us. The second morning we had a much more traditional breakfast – scrambled eggs with an arepa and cheese. Even though our breakfast was ok, it didn’t quite live up to the reviews that some guests were giving about the quality of the breakfast.
While we didn’t cook when we were in Medellin there was a pretty nice kitchen. The kitchen had all of the essentials and even had a spice rack that people could use. It’s one of the small things that really makes it easier for travelers to cook up something delicious.
My favorite part of the kitchen was the filtered water spout on the fridge. After paying for bottled water all over town, it was nice to have filtered water available to us for free.
Since we planned to go to Guatape, we left our large backpacks at the GeoHostel, taking only our smaller bags for the 2 night trip. The hostel was great and stored our bags in a locked room until we returned.
If we return to Medellin, I would absolutely stay at the GeoHostel again. The location is amazing, the price is great and everything is extremely clean.