Siz and I are what people in the backpacking game call percentage whores*. Your main hostel booking sites – HostelBookers and HostelWorld – are set up in such a way that you can rank the available accommodation in your favoured destination by the average percentage the previous customers have given as a review. Seeing as people are far more likely to pipe up when they’re PISSED OFF, it can be a tricky prospect for hostels to manage in order to keep a reasonable reputation. I once spent a few days in Lisbon, Portugal, in what was then ranked the second best hostel in the world. It had a percentage of 95.
On a tendril of land worming it’s way through a man-made lake in central Colombia, in the shadow of what appears to be a gall stone God passed while he was winding down from his 6 days creating, sits a small guesthouse called Mi Casa Guatape.
In 3 years of operation this place had essentially been perfect in every way. Call us skeptics, but Siz and I found ourselves simultaneously whispering ‘bullshit you dirty lying scumbags’. It was booked.
We found ourselves rapping at the door of a cute two storey building just off the main road to Guatape, about 3km out of town. We were greeted not with the poof of gold dust and rainbows that 99.4% style mental images might suggest, but rather the warm smile of Suzy, one of the owners. She welcomed us in and introduced us to Sean, her other half. An English gent who had fallen for a native Colombian, the couple decided to set up camp in the cute, quiet township of Guatape, and set about moulding a hostel made up of all the best bits of hostels they’d frequented in their extensive travels.
As mentioned, the location is unbeatable. The aforementioned gall stone is in fact ‘La Piedra del Peñol’, a natural rock formation around 220m high and 350 wide. It is literally a stones-throw (haha yes Fishy, good pun my man) from the front door. And like the meat in a delicious rock and water sandwich, out back is Guatape lake, man made for electricity purposes in the 60s, but uncomfortably beautiful.
The building is made up of 2 floors, the bottom having a backyard with a 3 x 3m MEGA HAMMOCK overlooking the lake, while upstairs sits the main kitchen and chill out area, with both a front and back balcony, allowing for your choice of view. Sick to death of that stupid awesome rock out front? Head out back, look at the lake and think about your life you fucking fusspot.
What struck us most was the homely vibe. From about 5 minutes in, we felt as though we were at home. Having had our share of dorm rooms and couches for the couple of months previous, to have that sort of feeling is invaluable. Sean has a music background, so from sunrise to sunset you get the gentle soul vibes of his music collection floating through the place. The kitchen is stocked with more herbs and spices that Colonel Sanders could be reasonably expected to deal with, and the honesty system for beers takes out any whisper of ‘I’m here to make money off of you, you walking Gringo dollar signs’.
The private double we had was warm and cosy, and I’d have been comfortable eating spag bol from any nominated surface in the bathroom. For dog lovers they have a cute hound named Lulu, for dog haters she’s chill as fuck.
All in all, I, like most who have stayed there apparently, cannot fault what Sean and Suzy have done at Mi Casa. If you’re keen on seeing what all the fuss is about, contact them direct via their website, or via hostelworld or hostelbookers.
*No one to my knowledge has ever, or will ever, use that term