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Casa Bella Vista

Casa Bella Vista
Carrera 2 #12B-31, El Chorro, Bogota
(031) 334.1230
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bellavistahostel.co

Overview: Bogota's Casa Bella Vista is located right on the historic plaza el Chorro de Quevedo (normally abbreviated as "El Chorro") where the city of Bogota was founded in the sixteenth century by Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada. The Chorro is an artsy, bohemian neighborhood on the southern side of La Candelaria, where you'll find the most interesting people in the whole city. Casa Bella Vista is right on the Callejon del Embudo, a quaint, picturesque cobble-stoned street lined with bars, restaurants, and cafes, that serves as a conduit between la Candelaria and el Chorro.

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Neighborhood: You are literally right on the plazoleta del Chorro, where you can see the historic church. The neighborhood is filled with hip cafes, traditional bars where you can sample chicha (a drink made from fermented corn), restaurants ranging from inexpensive empanadas and almuerzos corrientes to fine dining, and all kinds of interesting shops.

You're also just a 10 minute walk from the Plaza de Bolivar, where you'll find the Colombian Congress, Supreme Court, and a little to the south, la Casa de Narino, the residence of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Head a little North and you're in the heart of La Candelaria, with its beautifully preserved colonial architecture, edgy nightlife, bumping salsa bars, and traditional Colombian cuisine.

You can easily get to all of Bogota's best museums, like el Museo de Oro, the Botero museum, the police museum, the military museum, la Casa de la Moneda, and el Museo Nacional. Also, it's just a $5.000 taxi ride to la Quinta de Bolivar (Simon Bolivar's residence after the War of Independence) and the entrance to Monserrate, the impressive cathedral overlooking the city from a height of 3200m.

The area is crawling with students: in fact it's essentially the biggest university area in Colombia. Just minutes away you'll find la Universidad de los Andes, la Universidad de la Salle, la Universidad Gran Colombia, la Universidad Libre, la Universidad Rosario, el Externado, and la Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lazano. 

All along la Septima (Carrera 7) you'll find plenty of activity, and along Avenida Jimenez, downtown Bogota's two main thoroughfares.

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.

If you are looking to save money and don't mind walking a bit, you can also take a bus from either the airport or the bus terminal. Look for a black and red bus that says "Germania" or "Calle 19". This will take you 7km east along Calle 19, and you should get out by the Transmilenio station las Aguas. From there, it's about a 10 to 15 minute walk to Casa Bella Vista. It's probably only best to do this during daylight.

Management/Staff: Casa Bella Vista is currently under new management: it's run by a wonderful family who want to make their guests feel right at home: A Colombian couple Gerardo and Nuvia, and their two children Vanesa and Sebastian, as well as the wonderful hostel dog, a big german shepard named Maya. They speak English, and are enthusiastic about showing thier guests the best of Bogota.

Gerardo spent five years working in tourism, and enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. He liked tourism so much that he decided to start his own hostel!

Rooms: Casa Bella Vista offers its guests 2 private rooms with private bathrooms. There are also three dormitories, with 4, 7, and 10 beds.

Shared Rooms: The dormitories feature soft, comfortable mattresses, and are located up on the second floor. They are spacious and pleasant, set around a wonderful sun room with a sklyight overhead. The 7 and 10 bed dorms also offer private bathrooms to guests.

Private Rooms: One of the rooms is a private apartment, which features a delightful living room area on the first floor, and a spiral staircase leading up to a queen sized bed on the second floor. It's an incredible value at just $70.000. It also has a nice private bathroom.

The other private room features one double bed, one single bed, and a private bathroom.

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Amenities: Casa Bella Vista offers guests a wide range of amenities to make your stay a pleasant and comfortable one. 

You can enjoy a complimentary breakfast every morning: rolls with butter and jam, fruit, scrambled eggs, and delicious hot chocolate. There is also a kitchen available for your convenience, and a cozy breakfast nook where you can enjoy your meals. There is a refrigerator, microwave, 4 range-top stove, and oven. Coffee is available 24 hours a day, and there is beer, soda, and water for sale at reasonable prices.

Down in the basement you'll find the bar/lounge/TV area. During high season (July/August/Christmas/Semana Santa) they serve up cocktails and beer from the bar area. There's even a small stage for musical acts and performers. You can also enjoy cable TV and DVDs.

There are large lockers to store your valuables on the second floor. Here you'll also find the hostel's best feature: the brightly illuminated sunroom, decorated with eccentric antiques and plants. There are comfy beanbags and a nice sofa. Look out the window at the back alley garden and northwest towards the impressive skyline of Bogota. It's a great spot to read a book, surf the internet (the hostel offers GREAT free wifi), hang out with new friends, or just enjoy the sunshine. You can also sit down to a game of chess, checkers, dominoes, or cards.

You'll really appreciate the intricately carved and elaborate woodwork and ironwork throughout the hostel; it's an extremely well-preserved colonial-style Bogota home with wonderful modern touches like large windows, a skylight, and even a semi-see through floor between the reception on the first floor, and the sunroom on the second.

The hostel also features some very nice furniture and decorations, including the antique grandfather clock in the reception area, an antique sewing machine, and beautiful hardwood furniture throughout.

There is a laundry service for guests: leave your dirty clothes in the reception and for just $2.000 a pound, they will wash and dry it for you. It only takes 2 hours!

There's also a guitar for guest use.

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Conclusion: So, if you want to stay in downtown Bogota, with quick and easy access to the Plaza de Bolivar, all the museums, la Candelaria, and, of course, El Chorro. Casa Bella Vista is your best bet. It's got a great friendly, family-run atmosphere, is reasonably priced, and you're just steps from all kinds of cultural, culinary, and historic attractions. One thing is certain: you'll never be bored in the Chorro! And you are also just a five minute walk from the Museo de Oro Transmilenio stop, so it's easy to get to anywhere else in the city.

Colombia Backpacking highly recommends Casa Bella Vista if you want to stay in downtown Bogota!

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Recommended Tours/Activites:

Just ask in the reception, and the staff will be happy to help you out with these activities through affiliated tour operators.

Zipaquira Tour
Sue Bus Party
Bogota Graffiti Tour
Andres de Carne de Res

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