Where to stay in Medellin, Colombia?
So you’re going to Medellin Colombia but you don’t know where to stay. Naturally there are tons of options ranging from big five-star hotel rooms to shared accommodation in backpacker hostels. If you are reading this blog then you are probably looking for something a bit more on the lower end of the scale.
Is it safe to travel to Medellin? Medellin is a pretty big city. As a matter of fact, it is Colombia’s 2nd largest city with a population of over 2 million residents living in 16 districts and 271 barrios (neighbourhoods).
Today Medellin can be considered the New York of South America, but like most big cities, it has its posh residential neighbourhoods and others where poverty and crime still run rampant. My guess is that you are probably hoping to stay in one of the safer areas that is still close to all of the action. Well look no further, that area is called El Poblado.
Poblado is considered one of Medellin’s safest areas and it is known for it’s restaurants, cafes, and vibrant nightlife. However safety and location come with a price tag. Poblado is also the city’s wealthiest district, so prices tend to be higher that in other areas of Medellin. With that being said, there are still several affordable accommodation options to choose from.
How to search for hostels in Medellin?
Usually, the first place I check for hostels is the popular site hotelworld.com which makes online bookings for backpacker hostels all around the world. What I like about this site is that each hostel is awarded a percentage rating based on satisfaction surveys completed by past guests. You can also choose to sort through the list of the hostels by availability, price or my personal favourite – overall rating. Other popular online booking sites are hostels.com and hostelbookers.com.
Alternately, many people travel with guidebooks like the Lonely Planet, Frommer’s or Moon Travel Guides which recommend places to stay in each city based on set price ranges. Here’s the draw back – guidebooks give the opinion of one travel writer (or a few) and the information, prices and reviews can be quite outdated depending on when the book was published. On the contrary, online booking sites tend to be updated regularly with more reliable information.
What are you looking for in a hostel?
Are you looking for social hostel where you can party and meet new people? Or, are you looking for a more relaxed environment where you get get away from the noise and have a good night’s sleep?
Here’s the good news! So far I have stayed at three hostels in Medellin and they have all been pretty damn good. BUT, depending on what you are looking for, one may be better suited for you than the others.
Casa Kiwi is probably one of the most well-known and oldest hostels in the city. Apart from the standard stuff, this hostel has a pool table, a small movie theatre with comfortable stadium seating, a rooftop lounge, and a bar! It is designed to promote socializing. If you are looking for a party hostel, Casa Kiwi is definitely a good option.
Dorm rooms are pretty standard with bunk-beds and lockers to store your valuables. There is a small kitchen but sometimes finding your food in the fridge can be a challenge when the hostel is full with people who like to cook. Bonus: There is a small grocery store (Exito Express) across the street, so if you like cooking your own meals, you don’t have to go too far for the ingredients. Although the hostel has a ‘no outside alcohol’ policy, the cheapest place to buy alcohol is right at the Exito grocery store. A 375ml bottle of Medellin rum (my favourite) costs 13,000 pesos or about $7 USD.
Noise! Due to the very social nature of the hostel, it can get pretty noisy when the sun goes down. At times – too noisy. Most guests party at the hostel, hit the clubs and bars around midnight, and return pretty intoxicated at three, four, and five in the morning. I recommend getting a room on the second floor since the common areas are on the first floor. If you are a light sleeper, a pair of comfy earplugs also wouldn’t hurt.
Tiger Paw Hostel
It’s all about the environment!
This hostel is currently owned by Justin, a young american guy who bought the place less than a year ago and has managed to transform the hostel into the highest ranked property on hostelworld.com – yep in less than a year it’s already at #1!
Tiger Paw’s bar is quickly becoming a popular pre-party hangout spot for gringos, expats and paisas alike. Ever since the start of the daily two for one happy hour (9-10 pm), this little hostel bar has sprung to life – especially from Thursday to Saturday when the partying in Medellin really heats up. Like Casa Kiwi, Tiger Paw also has a nice pool table next to the bar and a small rooftop area. Don’t forget to try one of the popular Tiger Paw shots created by staff member Violet.
The cheerful all female staff, Jessi, Violet, Alexandra, Diana and Lusia are all fantastic people who before long may also be accepting your friend requests on Facebook (if you’re lucky of course). They will give you their insider tips about the city and will make you feel right at home.