The Down-and-Dirty Hostel Hopper

MercadoPhoto: Courtesy of the vendor
Photo: Courtesy of the traveler

Keith Morancie, 26, professional fund-raiser

Budget: Tight

Duration: 10 Days

“Choosing destinations based on cheap airfares and staying in hostels saves money—money that can be better spent on a really nice prix-fixe lunch. I love architecture, art-gallery walking tours, and photographing graffiti, but really, everything is just a placeholder between meals.”

Go here: Bogotá, Colombia

Why now: Who needs Cartagena sunshine when you have industrial gallery spaces, steakhouses that double as discotecas, direct JetBlue flights for around $600 round trip, and $10-a-night hostels?

What to do: Glimpse bohemia in action at Warehouse Art (5-50 Calle 74; 571-345-4727), a modernist gallery with a fondness for street art. Befriend fellow travelers at your hostel and you can see the city through the eyes of craft brewery Bogotá Beer Company’s Tour Cervecero, which shuttles six folks at a time from its home base to local pubs via a VW Westphalia ($35; 571-702-9999). Sweat out the alcohol Sunday morning at the weekly Ciclovía, where dozens of streets are closed to traffic and taken over by bikers, skaters, joggers, and wandering photographers.

Where to stay: Hostal Fátima (from $10;, located in the graffiti-laced La Candelaria district, has both dorm beds and private rooms within its 150-year-old compound, plus a host of freebies (Internet, breakfast, and salsa and Spanish lessons among them). For the hostel-averse, there’s B3 Virrey (from $108; 571-593-4490), a boutique hotel with 128 minimalist rooms and an in-house bar.

What to eat: Sample Colombia’s tastiest fare—like coconut milk and chontaduro ceviche spiced with Amazonian chiles—at one of famed chef Leonor Espinosa’s two new restaurants: the ritzier La Leo, Cocina Mestiza (86-74 Carrera 11; 571-639-9975) or Mercado (12-73 Calle 93 A; 571-236-2500). At Andrés D.C. (11-94 Calle 81; 571-863-7880), the urban branch of the Chía-based original, dine on tenderloin one minute, then be surrounded by a whimsical dance party with stiltwalkers and marching bands the next.

Buy this: A skull charm bracelet ($150) from Colombian accessory guru Mercedes Salazar, available at her eponymous store on Parque 93 (13-26 Calle 93B; 571-616-1065).

Also consider: Exploring the progressive Latin food scene in San Antonio, Texas, where the Culinary Institute of America’s Pearl Brewery campus just launched its new NAO restaurant (312 Pearl Pkwy., Ste. 2102; 210-554-6484) and the river walk’s Hotel Havana (from $105; was recently restored.

The Down-and-Dirty Hostel Hopper