Conventional logic dictates that on a holiday you get yourself a flight and book into a nice hotel, enjoying the amenities available in the hotel in between exploring your chosen destination.
Times, however, are changing, and recently there has been a huge shift towards renting short-term apartments when on vacation. This is no different in Colombia, where various expats and locals are clocking onto this trend and starting up their own companies looking to cater to foreigners that are visiting Colombia but are trying to avoid the costs and restrictions of hotels. This is especially true when it comes to staying in the major cities of Colombia: Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena.
Indeed, it is the freedom of an apartment that often appeals to many holiday-goers: your own kitchen to cook cheaply, the ability to bring back guests should you desire and no set breakfast times. Privacy is one of the biggest advantages of staying in an apartment. Guests tend to appreciate that the space feels more like their own and is often much bigger. Add on the fact that the price is frequently substantially lower and you get a convincing case for apartment-based holidays.
So just what is the upside of a hotel? The main advantage of hotels are their convenience and ease of use, you don’t have to worry and depending on the price you pay you know more or less what to expect. Another advantage is safety, hotels ensure a high level of security when you stay with them and if the unfortunate should happen there are often policies in place to ensure you are looked after. This is not even to mention the rogue apartment owners that could take advantage of unsuspecting tourists, letting them down and often taking their money without providing the conditions they promised. The established pages of TripAdvisor haven’t extended to apartments in a sufficient way just yet, so getting an apartment can often be a risky business.
But safety concerns about apartments are dissolving as the industry improves. Sites like Air BnB offer secured transactions and an insurance policy for the travellers and the apartment owner. In Bogota, most established companies like Apartamentos Alhambra have a thorough security systems in place for the travellers or the business executive. All apartments come with a safety box, a doorman and 24/7 security system; they also buck the trend and have a strong presence on TripAdvisor. Certainly, standards are rising as the popularity of apartment stays increases. In Colombia, since it’s a new market, it is often advisable to seek firm recommendations when seeking apartments or using apartment rental companies.
Hotels in certain areas of Colombia are also sub-standard, owing to the lack of regulatory practices in the country. Though most hotels are decent to excellent, most suffer from false advertising and rate themselves as 4 or 5 star when a 3 star would be more appropriate. This leads to disappointment.
Colombia, moreover, is a country with many areas that are uniquely suited to apartment renting. Vacation Rental in Bogotá is a great option for example. With its bustling streets and unique atmosphere, Bogota is a city that lends itself very much to the independence an apartment can lend you. Not to mention the fact that hotels are often situated in very touristy areas (Zona T, Parque 93, La Candelaria), and so those wishing to get a more authentic taste of the city may want to consider an apartment rental in Chapinero, Santa Barbara, Chicó, Alhambra, Puentelargo and Batán. These areas are ideal not just because they’re pleasant, but because they have great transport links and are located near important business and leisure districts.
Renting apartments in Medellín is a great option since you can stay in some fantastic apartments for reasonable prices in the most exclusive parts of the city. El Poblado is a particular favourite for foreigners thanks to the beautiful surroundings and the quality of the apartments available.
On the other hand, a city like Cartagena might be more suited to hotel-goers. Hotels and apartments in the city are similar prices, and the hotels often come with excellent service, spas, restaurants and swimming pools – not to mention fantastic views. Hotels also offer you the best locations, since most are found within the Old City and therefore closer to the major tourist attractions. Apartments, while predictably nice, just don’t offer the same kind of luxury service that’s suited to a tourism destination such as Cartagena and are therefore to be eschewed in favour of one of the city’s many beautiful hotels.
Overall, the debate between apartments and hotels in Colombia depends on preference. While some prefer the ease and comfort of a hotel, the freedom and value of an apartment often gives the tourist a richer and more genuine experience of the city they are exploring. Either way, few that visit will disagree that wherever you stay, Colombia is a country you should travel to soon.