When we first visited Cartagena back in 2015, we paid 60,000 COP per night - and this was us pushing the boat out!
Fast forward to 2019, and whilst there has never been so many great places to stay in the city, prices of accommodation have increased astronomically; on our last trip we struggled to find anywhere decent that had doubles for less than 140,000 COP (with the place we stayed at four years previously increasing its prices by 120%!)
Throw in the fact that many hostels in Cartagena don’t have kitchens (or indeed private rooms) and advance bookings are now almost essential given the city’s popularity, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the prettiest city in Colombia just isn’t really for budget backpackers anymore. If you’re just about to fly in to Colombia from Europe or the US, then most of the prices won’t seem too crazy to you, but for anyone that’s reading this and has already been on the road in South America for a while, they’ll come as a shock (especially if you’re a travelling couple).
So, what you have below is our personally curated selection of some of the best hostels in Cartagena for a variety of backpacker budgets and travel styles; some are super beautiful with a price tag to match, whilst others are much more reasonably priced, but one thing they all have in common is high ratings and good reviews - we’d never recommend a dud! Yes, you may have to stretch your day-to-day budget a little further whilst in Cartagena, but at least you can be guaranteed a decent place to stay for your money in either the Getsemani neighbourhood or within the old walls of the historic centre (the most popular neighbourhoods to stay in).
Here are nine of the best hostels in Cartagena - and if you think any others deserve to be on this list, then please do let us know in the comments!
Adorned with one our favourite pieces of Cartagena street art, the Santuario is a brand new offering in Getsemani. Stylish design and a super cool pod set up for the dorms, it also has a jacuzzi for cooling off after a long day’s sight seeing.
Dorms from 55,000 COP (£13 / $17) | No private doubles
One of the older kids on the block, Viajera has a popular option for a while. A social hostel with lots of organised activities, large and colourful communal areas and a great location in the centre of Getsemani. Although prices are much more than most places in Colombia, it’s actually one of the cheaper ‘popular’ hostels in Cartagena.
Dorms from 38,500 (£9 / $12) | Doubles from 160,000 (£37 / $49)
Referred to by many of the guests as ‘the best hostel they’ve ever stayed in’, this is another popular hostel for solo backpackers or groups looking for dorm beds. Excellent facilities, exceptionally helpful and friendly staff plus a rooftop with two jacuzzis. They have a guest kitchen but also an on-site restaurant with discounts for guests.
Dorms from 55,000 COP (£13 / $17) | No doubles
Located in a beautiful 3-storey colonial building, Republica has one of the largest courtyards within the historic Walled City. The design throughout is just beautiful, plus it has a lovely pool, guest kitchen, free breakfast, and a rooftop jacuzzi - perfect for watching the sun set. The only downside is the lack of private rooms.
Dorms from 60,000 | No doubles
After an awful lot of research (seriously, we spent hours on it), this was actually where we stayed in January 2019. It has a good little kitchen, doubles with unlimited aircon, it’s quiet, secure and well located in Getsemani.
At the time, it was also just 120,000 COP per night. Unfortunately, doubles have now gone up in price, but the dorms remain really good value.
Dorms from 28,000 (£6.5 / $8.5) | Privates from 148,000 (£34 / $45)
Tip | There are a bunch of great affordable Airbnbs for traveller couples and groups in Cartagena - see some of the best ones here, and if you’ve never used Airbnb before you can get up to £25 off your first booking by signing up for free via this link.
The cheapest private room option on our list, El Barrio remains a hugely popular choice in Cartagena.
Large clean rooms (all with ensuite), lots of white walls and good inside communal areas, the only down side is the limited amount of outdoor space - there’s only a balcony to the street - but at this price, we don’t think it matters.
Technically no dorms, but they do have bunk beds in two and four person rooms | Doubles from 90,000 (£21 / $27)
For more information, prices and availability, click here.
Be sure to check out El Barrio’s recent addition to the family, it’s brand new (only opened May 2nd) and won’t stay at this budget price for long!)
This hostel is just so damn adorable! The cutest design features, a pool for cooling off, great common areas and a cool bar area. There’s no guest kitchen but they do an excellent breakfast and it’s nice and close to lots of restaurants. The doubles are, in our opinion, way overpriced, but it’s an excellent pick for a dorm!
Dorms from 51,000 (£12 / $15.5) | Doubles from 287,000 (£67 / $87)
Located on a quiet street in the Getsemani neighbourhood, this boutique hostel is all about its design features, including a wonderful rooftop terrace. The staff are incredibly helpful, there’s a free breakfast and an on-site coffee shop and bar (which is worth visiting even if you’re not staying here!).
Dorms from 46,000 (£11 / $14) | Doubles from 140,000 (£32.5 / $42.5)
For more information, prices and availability, click here.
We’re personally not the hugest fans of Selina hostels; they’re everywhere in South America and usually prohibitively expensive for most backpackers. That said, this list would be remiss without them - the hostel is stunning, it has not one, but TWO rooftop pools, a great (if expensive) bar, guest kitchen and nice rooms.
Social flashpacker central.
Dorms from 63,000 (£14.7 / $19) | Doubles from 210,000 (£49 / $64)