Discover The Colombia Collective's top 10 hideouts across the incredible country that is Colombia...
Catch your lunch with the local fishermen in Rincon, trek to hidden waterfalls high in the Sierra Nevada or gallop through the coffee fields at La Trinidad; hop between eco hostels and private villas, desert islands and snow capped mountains - there is quite literally something for everyone.
With so much choice and distances that can he hard to gauge, this also means that planning a trip can be totally overwhelming. To give a little bit of a helping hand, we have put together our 10 favourite hotels in some of the most stunning parts of the country. Meander between some of these and you can't go far wrong!
Dos Aguas $$
Rincon Del Mar
Feel like adventuring off the same old beaten track? Rincon del Mar is an absolute hidden paradise. Still largely unknown, even to Colombians, this little fishing village is the perfect place to take step back and relax. And nowhere better than Dos Aguas; with a big focus on sustainability and supporting local projects, these guys have taken the word 'hostel' to a whole new level. Wake up with the morning sun and a view of palm trees on one side and mangroves on the other, with both private rooms and dorms, this place is perfect for relaxing with friends or a romantic retreat. Head out as the sun rises to catch your lunch with the local fishermen, take long walks along the deserted beaches or slow things down with some yoga or a massage overlooking the mangroves. In the evening there is a different local dish at the hostel overlooking the beach (with vegetarian options) or stroll along to some of the delicious restaurants in the town for some fresh ceviche or seafood pasta (our favourite being Che!). Top Tip: Arrive from either Cartagena or Colosó. The last few hundred meters are along the beach with no roads so avoid bringing a wheely bag! Rincon is also the perfect place to then head to the incredible San Bernardo Islands: Isla Murcia and Isla Titipan are our favourites!
Sierra Alta Finca Boutique $$$
Minca, Sierra Nevada
Hidden high in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, Sierra Alta Finca Boutique is without a doubt one of our favourite hotels across Colombia. Miles off the beaten track, set off for the two hour climb to be greeted with the some of the most breathtaking views Colombia has to offer. Watch the sun set over horizon with some of the best gin and tonics around, overlooking Santa Marta and the rolling peaks of the magical Sierra Nevada to the sounds of monkeys howling and birds singing in the distance. The hotel itself is absolute jungle luxury. With only three bedrooms, it can feel like you have the place entirely to yourself. The service is impeccable, each evening a different local dish is cooked and beautifully presented by the in house chef. Pilar, the owner, is as good as hostesses come; organising guided treks, football matches with the locals, birdwatching, visits to local coffee farms, and if you’re feeling really smug at the end of a long day the jacuzzi is always ready and waiting! And you literally won’t see another tourist as far as you go. The perfect place to escape after a few nights out in the hustle and bustle of Cartagena and truly get back in touch with the incredible natural beauty this country has to offer. Top Tip: Pilar can organise the 4x4 to collect you from Minca or Santa Marta to take you up. Start the summit at around 3.30pm to catch the incredible sunset on your way up.
Calanoa Lodge $$$
Calanoa is an absolute hidden gem in the heart of the Colombian Amazon. A unique combination of stunning architecture, delicious Amazonian recipes and magic sunsets by the shores of the river. It also offers the possibility to meet local communities in a relaxed and genuine fashion. Listening and seeing hundreds of colourful birds, and hiding in the forest with local guides who would be delighted to take you on a day or night hike. Simply the best place to explore the Colombian Amazon, combining adventure, comfort and peace!
Cafetal de la Trinidad $$$
Mesitas de Colegio, Cundinamarca
Rustic luxury nailed to a tee, La Trinidad is like stepping back in time into the world of a Colombian coffee farmer. Founded in 1894, La Trinidad was once one of Colombia's main coffee producers before falling into decline during the conflict. Today, the farm has been lovingly restored to share the stories, history and beauty of the estate. Perfect for the coffee lovers, witness first hand all the various types of coffee that the owners are experimenting with from the delicate Geisha to the trusty Bourbon.Spend long days roaming the newly planted coffee fields on horseback, trek to ancient ruins, learn about the history of the factory, or simply watch the afternoon go by from the patio spanning the length of the main house - with one of the best cups of coffee you can find! Just two hours drive from Bogota, these guys offer day trips to the farm but we couldn't recommend spending the night more! Settle in to enjoy the delicious cooking of the lovely ladies that have been such a huge part of the restoration of the farm, open a bottle of wine (or whisky!) and enjoy the perfect evening breeze late into the night. Top Tip: There are not many rooms in the house so book early, and let the owners know if you would like it all to yourself!
OMK, Cabo de la Vela $
Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira
La Guajira is like nowhere else in the world. The harsh desert lands of the north of Colombia and across into Venezuela are home to the Wayuu tribe, the largest indigenous community in the country and the master weavers of the much loved 'mochila'. Cabo de la Vela has become the main base for exploring these incredible lands. The best kitesurfing spot in the country with perfect winds and flat waters almost every day, an ideal place for beginners or experts to try and keep up with the locals. If you're not up for putting on a harness, there is nothing better than sitting on the beach with a cold beer and watching the incredible sport in action as the pro's fly through the air, flips and all. Take day trips on the little motorbike taxis to climb Pilon de Azucar, visit hidden beaches along the coast or an overnight trip to Punta Gallinas - the most northern point of the desert. The local restaurants offer mainly the traditional fish or lobster with rice, although there is now one spot offering pizza. Word of warning: there is absolutely nothing luxurious about Cabo de la Vela! It is about as simple as it can get; choose between a 'chinchorro' (traditional Wayuu hammock) under the stars on the beach, or a private room in the bamboo huts. There is no running water - showers are with buckets of water from the tanks that have to travel hours through the desert to get there, there are no paved roads for hours in any direction, electricity is a scarcity and generally only on in the evenings. Forget mirrors, forget washing machines, forget hairdryers. It's back to basics. But this is what makes this place so incredibly special. The travellers you meet are the best kind, the local hospitality is kind but cautious, and the stars have never been brighter at night. Top Tip: Getting there can be done by shared cars from Riohacha, just keep asking, or hire a driver with a 4x4 to take you all the way through the desert in air-conditioned luxury (so worth it!). Take supplies like water and beers with you, they are much more expensive in Cabo and much of a selection available! OMK Kite School can help sort transport, accommodation, day trips and all things kiting for you:
La Cachaza $$
Rio La Miel, Caldas
Colombia's best kept secret. And for good reason - it is definitely not easy to reach! Jump in a 4x4 from Bogota or Medellin (rentals are not crazy expensive in Colombia) and set out on the 4 hour drive to the jungle, stop in some of the stunning colonial towns along the way - Honda is particularly worth a visit, maybe even overnight! The last part is where it gets tricky, and slightly bumpy. But before long you have made it to a little gap in the trees where the hotel's boat is waiting patiently to taxi you the final stretch along the river to paradise. Wooden cabins stretched out along the river, beautifully kept gardens with coconut trees lining the pathways, and a simple yet wonderful restaurant area to enjoy the local dishes and finally set your eyes on the other guests. The cabins are huge, most sleeping around 7 people, but also very affordable if you are a smaller group. With outdoor showers, terraces with hammocks overlooking the river and some of the best hosts imaginable. Days are spent on the river boats; hunting for secret waterfalls, floating downstream in inflatable rings, stopping for picnics at little beaches along the riverbanks and head out at dust to see families of howler monkeys sitting peacefully in the tree tops. A place to rejuvenate, jump off waterfalls, swim in the river and fall in love with the people and animals that greet you. Top Tip: Ask for one of their amazing packed lunches wrapped in palm leaves the night before to take with you on your day trips! If the boat drivers claims to know a 'better' secret spot, believe him! https://www.booking.com/hotel/co/la-cachaza-ecologico.en-gb.html
La Passion $$$
A beautiful oasis in the heart of the historic centre, La Passion is like stepping onto a glamorous 70's film set, overflowing with rustic charm. Built within an old colonial house, with a gorgeous pool on the roof (essential in the sweltering heat of the day!) and shady loungers looking out over the rooftops of the city; this is the perfect hotel to combine long days exploring the city with moments of pause to escape the heat of the day. The rooms range in price, style and fabulousness, so be sure you know what you're booking but all absolutely worth it depending on your budget. Wander the cobbled streets, spend your fortunes in the gorgeous boutiques and dine out on ceviche at the incredible selection of Caribbean style restaurants.Top Tip: Head to Bazurto market with Cartagena Connections for a truly local experience, way off the beaten track!
Casa Galavanta $$$$$
Minca, Sierra Nevada
Most definitely not for the budget traveller, but oh wow this place is spectacular. A private house high in the Sierra Nevada and overlooking one of the most breathtaking views in the country, this house is the ultimate luxury escape from the world below. Spend days trekking through the mountains, experiencing some of the most impressive birdwatching around (see if you can spot a toucan!), visiting local coffee farms, early morning yoga on the patio, jumping in secret waterfalls and enjoying the absolutely incredible food cooked by your own chef each day. Far better than any restaurant for miles around! This is one of the most spoiling experiences you can find, anything you want, these guys can make it happen. If you've got the budget, it's 100% worth it. Top Tip: If you are really ready to go all out, there is a private helipad just for you to avoid the bumpy roads climbing up the mountain!
Casa Legado $$$$
Bogota is often dismissed from people's to do list in Colombia, but they couldn't be more wrong. The capital city is absolutely heaving with life; endless restaurants of all types of cuisine, art galleries and theatres of all shapes and sizes, small boutique stores with pieces you won't find anywhere else, bike tours across the length of the city, nights out in glamorous cocktail bars or underground salsa clubs... admittedly it is much easier when you know where you're going, but that is where we come in. Over the next few months we are going to publish our own map of all the best spots in Bogota, and if you have any questions about your trip, just let us know and we couldn't be more happy to help.And so we meet Casa Legado, the home from home for any type of traveller. Spacious, clean, and with 7 uniquely and beautifully decorated rooms, each decorated in the style of one of the family members, leading out onto an array of living spaces from the most beautiful garden/patio, to the kitchen and dining area that truly feel like you are in someone's house. Situated in the most beautiful neighbourhood in the city, Quinta Camatcho, surrounded by little boutique shops and some of the city's best kept gastronomic secrets - Brot for croissants, Abasto for brunch/lunch, 7 Cabras for dinner, La Huerta for cocktails - all within a few minutes walk. For the art lovers out there, this would be a must as the owner has filled the house with an amazing selection of pieces. Top Tip: On Sundays and public holidays, the city closes all the main streets from 7am - 2pm for cyclists and runners - grab a bike from the hotel and head up the 7th street to see what it's all about!
Patio del Mundo $$$
The glorious city of eternal spring. But Medellin can be a hard nut to crack, drawing the tourist crowds for an array of reasons, some better than others... But no doubt remains that it is an incredible city with so much to offer. Poblado is the area that most gravitate towards, and for good reason. Beautiful little plazas scattered across the neighbourhood, the some of Colombia's finest restaurants and bars (Michelin star spot - El Cielo), and an infinitely friendly local crowd. But it can also be chaotic, with reggaeton blasting through to the early hours and partygoers every night of the week. Hence we couldn't recommend Patio del Mundo more, it is the absolutely perfect place to have all the fun within reach but with the luxury of retreating back to the calm and serenity of this gorgeous house. And house absolutely being the appropriate word! This was once a beautiful family home, that almost accidentally started taking guests, and has now been transformed into the perfect boutique hotel with the world's most wonderful hosts. Spend days exploring the city; head on the incredible graffiti tour through Comuna 13 (our favourite is with the artists from Casa Kolacho, WhatsApp +57 3113473131), or gain an incredible insight into the painful history of the city amid the conflict at the Museum of Memory. Top Tip: If you also want to get out of the city for a couple nights, check out Jardin over Guatape. And don't leave without trying the local speciality - 'bandeja paisa' - an impressive take on the full English breakfast!