While most people groan at the thought of hostel living, there has been many an occasion where we’ve found hostels in South America so bloody good that we’ve genuinely not wanted to leave. We enjoy travelling slowly but still like to change surroundings often to make sure we see a place from different perspectives, so we normally end up staying in at least 2 different hostels per city. If you’re heading to any of the below places in South America, we highly recommend you check our best hostels and AirBnBs out. Unfortunately there were none that really stood out to us in Uruguay. Try harder, Uruguay!
Oh my days. When we went in December 2017, this place had only been open a few months, and was being run by the young siblings and cousins of an Argentinian family. Everything was spotless, and the staff took real, real pride in everything they did. Extremely comfy beds (comfy enough to sleep through Andy stumbling in at 5am), fantastic location right in the centre of bar-ville Palermo, amazing power showers and THE BREAKFAST OF KINGS. We’re talkin’ pastries, doughnuts, cakes, toast & spreads, meat or cheese, fruit, cereal, squeeze-it-yourself orange juice, tea and coffee. WAAAAAH. You’re going to see a pattern with this breakfast thing, by the way.
While the beds were comfy and the breakfast decent enough, what really made this hostel was the incredible staff – in particular, Javier. This jolly man made the effort to remember the names of everyone at the hostel, shaking their hands at the beginning and end of every shift. If you needed help he would call people up personally rather than directing you to someone else. A shining star!
If you’re heading towards Mendoza’s vineyards and fancy something more authentic and closer to the grapes, Ana and Rolo’s AirBnB is a must. These guys were recommended to us by Andy’s cousin, and we’re so glad we spent a little extra time in the area to stay a weekend with them. Expect to be made part of the family; some previous guests actually turned up during our stay on their way back from Bariloche to drop off some wine to thank Ana and Rolo for their experience with them. Before we knew it, they were being welcomed back into the house and the asado barrels were being fired up. We had an absolute feast together that even the neighbours turned up to – bearing alcoholic gifts to make it a party.
Ana is an outstanding cook, and runs her own private Peruvian cooking classes from her kitchen. Although Spanish is very much preferable in order to get the most out of your stay, they do speak enough English for non-hispanohablantes to get along with them just fine. Oh, and they have a swimming pool!
Ever found a an Irish pub so good you wanted to stay and never leave?! We only actually officially stayed one night in Wild Rover (in a £5, 20-bed dorm that we used for approximately 4 hours), but we kept coming back every evening of our week stay in La Paz just for the great party vibes and cheap drinks. It’s so easy to make friends in Wild Rover La Paz, and the staff are always on hand to keep energy high. Despite being a party hostel, Wild Rover still has excellent, squeaky-clean facilities, good food and comfy beds. They also have an in-house tour agency with high safety standards (hard to find in Bolivia!). There are other Wild Rovers in Cusco and Arequipa, Peru, but we found the atmosphere to be unrivalled in La Paz.
Ok, so it’s a little out of town and the space is best described as no-frills, but Bertha and her family are brilliant, and they have THE CUTEST DOG IN THE WORLD. He’s probably a fair bit bigger now (here pictured at 5 weeks) but undoubtedly still adorable. Come here to experience Bolivian courtyard life – as a bonus, Bertha also runs very cheap Spanish lessons with several qualified teachers and is building a state-of-the-art school within her property.
So this may not be the most luxurious of hostels, nor the closest to the centre, but its location is one quieter street away from the main party area around Pío Nono in Bellavista, and the vibes are gooooood. We stayed here over Christmas and made friends from all over the world who we continue to keep in touch with and have even stayed with in their home countries. La Chimba has a huge amount of space for socialising, and they actually follow through with their events plans, unlike many hostels. The hostel is deceptively large, with several courtyards, a Netflix lounge and a billiards room. Stay here if you want to party all night and chill all day amongst cool people from all over the world.
This is a really special place. While the bedrooms are a little basic (no bunk beds, at least), the owners of this B&B are incredible. Super-friendly Slovenians with a talent for languages, Luka and Nina put their heart and soul into making everyone feel at home. Place your order with them in the morning and they will personally cook you up a huge, fresh breakfast of pancakes and fruit (gluten-full or gluten-free banana), granola with fresh fruit and yoghurt or a fry-up. We’ve raved about this breakfast before, and we’ll rave again. We spent New Year’s Eve up in this little B&B with panoramic views of fireworks lighting up the whole city, and although it’s not the party we’re used to, the 3 course meal with cocktails amongst 14 other travellers was just the kind of evening that made bringing in the new year extra memorable. This happens to be the first sunrise of 2018:
This is accommodation like no other; from Cartagena you take a small boat out into the Caribbean Sea, where the wooden-stilted hostel is your island. Eat whatever the staff catch in their nets that day, and party in the water all day. This is a pricey experience and can get a little cabin-fever-esque, but most people only stay 2 nights and say that that’s enough to really enjoy the experience. We didn’t actually stay here ourselves, mainly because we found out about it too late (you have to book months in advance just for a hammock to sleep in), but you can or check out Backpack and Bushcraft’s full review of her stay here. If you’re into wacky places to sleep, keep an eye out for Casa en el Aire in Colombia, at which you each get given a hammock suspended over a valley (not for the faint-hearted!).
This one really took us by surprise. Being reasonably priced right in the centre of the walled city of Cartagena, we were expecting low investment too. However, The Clock’s beautifully designed bed pods make you feel right at home – wallpapered pod walls and bedside table make all the difference! To top it off, the showers are like a showroom and there’s a jacuzzi in the courtyard. One of our best night’s sleeps in Colombia.
This is a super chilled neighbourhood a little far out from the city centre; we used it as our base when working for 2 weeks solid. If you’re a digital nomad in search of a local feel and a less buzzing place to get your head down, we’d really recommend this little apartment. How great it was to wrap up warm in a blanket on the sofa, watching Netflix on a plasma with the sound of the rain tapping outside! WiFi speeds also great!
Situated in the up-and-coming area of Granada, La Sucursal’s open-design hostel is great for seeing the swankier side of the often under-estimated Cali. The owners are fantastic in making sure they’re always improving, and the place is always spotless, with lots of spots of relax and meet people. Like lots of places in Colombia, they offer free salsa classes on the deck several times a week.
Where to start?! From clean, new pod bunks to incredible showers to colonial architecture in a fantastic old town location, Masaya ticks all the boxes. But the clincher for us was by far the cultural activities Masaya offers. Lozzy took part in a FREE Spanish lesson (only 1 other student in the class), and we couldn’t resist the free chocolate tasting from Huma, a local Ecuadorian start-up. We also had offers of free yoga and dance classes, to name a few. Whatever you’re into, this hostel has you covered. Masaya is a chain with other hostels in Colombia, but Quito seemed the most impressive to us.
If you’ve read our Peru blog, you’ll know that we fell in love with this place because of the out-of-this-world city tours put on by their bar manager, Lui Samanez. Aside from that, this hostel has bunks with curtains, an upstairs bar with a great vibe, and an excellent location in the beautiful (and safe) barrio of Miraflores. It was pretty hard to drag Andy away from this place. If we’re ever back in Lima, we hope we might be able to do a stint working on the bar there 😉
This was a little pricier than we’re used to, but it wasn’t a bank-breaker. Other than the colonial design and comfy beds, what made this place for us was the included breakfast; 3 courses served on the rooftop bar overlooking the city. Le Foyer definitely feels more like a hotel than a hostel. It’s only a few blocks from the main square, too. Dinner with a view, anyone?