If you don't feel like reading this reveiw, just stay at the Holiday Inn Express if you want to be in a nice area, at a decent hotel, with free good breakfast (relative to paying for one at a restaurant) and GREAT service.
TIP: Don't confuse this hotel with Holiday Inn Airport.
I've stayed at this hotel on two separate occasions for four nights total within a month's time for a work trip. I wasn't planning on being in Bogota twice.
I had to leave the first trip unexpectedly, as my wonderful, loving grandfather went into hospice. When I made it home two days before he passed away, his first word to me when I arrived was "Bogota?"
My Grandfather even experienced Bogota virtually via Google Talk video chat with my wife. I love ya Jimmy G, thank you for waiting for me to get home!
The first time I stayed, it was my first time in Colombia. I flew in from Philly I was overwhelmed by Bogota as I don't speak spanish and the city is like being in Manhattan at Friday rush hour, people and cars, especially little yellow taxis literally everywhere! I don't know too much about other South American (SA for now on) cities outside Quito, but I've never seen so many taxis in my life. NYC doesn't have anywhere near this amount of taxis.
When I arrived at hotel, I was very tired, Diana checked me and and was so friendly, she really lifted my spirits. She was very nice, courteous and quickly processed the check-in. Being a foreigner, check-ins take longer as they have to enter your passport info.
After checked-in I went to my room, tip if you don't know - you have to use you room key in elevator to make accept your floor number. I've seen this in many hotels, but I had been up for about 12 hours at this point (only 2.5 hours sleep before trip too) and it was only like 3 pm I was getting delirious.
I walked into my room on 3rd floor and it was very nice. Wasn't giant, wasn't small, but for me, just right. My view wasn't the greatest on either visits, but I didn't plan on staying in it much as the area has a lot of restaurants, bars and night clubs.
I stayed at the other Holiday Inn Airport for 4 nights too, which had nicer rooms over all, but this hotel is just better in many ways, especially if like to walk around. The Airport Holiday Inn is really geared towards business. Each time, I've enjoyed my stay immensely due to the friendliness of all the staff, especially the most helpful front desk person I've encountered in a very long time, Diana B.
The rest of this review will be tips for people like me, not spanish, no idea, like adventure, some adrenaline inducing moments and doing the local things and some touristy stuff. Some hotel interactions mixed in too!
TIP: ATM is located to the right in a short hallway as you exit secure area of terminal at airport. You will need local currency for taxi, they don't take CC's. Cost me 5000 Pesos (2.50 USD) to use, though its a better rate than exchanging Us Dollars (USD) for Colombian Pesos (COP) at booth.
TIP: Bogota restaurants and bars play music LOUD at night after dinner time. You may be able to hear it from hotel if you have a room like I did, 309b. Ask for a room in a less direct area if it bothers you.
If my work is paying me to be here, dang it, I seeing and doing as much as I can with their money, side note - I'm not stupid, I paid for extra stuff, work paid for room and meals.
I pretty much dropped my bags, placed a few things into safe and went right back down to front desk to ask Diana what to do and where was a store for a few items.
TIP: If your Caucasian bring suntan lotion, you will burn and its hard to find in Bogota under $15 USD.
The area around the hotel is nice, Parque 93 as it's known. There are many types of food to choose, from independents to chains like Crepes and Waffles to high end joints to McDonalds and TGIFridays. I spent most time at El Taqueria and Bogota Beer Company.
TIP: Hotel taxis, white taxis, are much more expensive than yellow street ones, but you are paying for security and they will wait for you where ever you go for a return trip. By expensive, I mean SA expensive, so a 30 minute ride was like 24000 COP (12 USD). Seems like all my hotel taxi rides were that price.
Everyone on street will look at you, not stare mind you, when you're in a white taxi as they are equated with more well off folks or foreigners. Every time we were stuck in traffic, which is basically all the time, people always looked at me and I never noticed them doing the same in a yellow taxi.
You don't have to tip the drivers! Its not the local custom! If you do this, make sure the service was exceptional, like they gave you insights or helped with bags. I didn't give more that 2000 Pesos (1 USD).
By comparison, the hotel taxi took me to job site one day for 24000 COP (12 USD). The next day I tried a local taxi and it as 8000 COP (4 USD). Was it worth it? To travel like a local, yes, for convenience, nope, nada, no way if you don't speak spanish.
TIP: For a real local experience, ride the Transmilenio. Where yellow was cheaper than the whites, this bus costs 1.75 COP (88 US Cents!) and it has its own dedicated lanes allowing it to bypass traffic jams. It does stop at red lights though.
Figuring out your bus route may be confusing, ask the front desk to look up website and plan your route for your. I tried to do it on my own to no avail and I'm pretty tech savvy if I do say so. I went to the La Candelaria (old town) area via white taxi and eventually walked down to Avenida Caracas at Calle 22 to board bus back.
I took bus B13 Norte. The buses don't stop at every single stop location and many routes stop, so make sure you get right bus! This was much quicker than taxi, but it was very crowed and I had to stand. I kept close watch over my belongings as well, it wasn't shady and I never felt nervous, but I am cautious. I'm a Irish american from Philly, I stood out and probably would be a pickpocket target if anyone was on that bus.
The buses drive fast and stop 2x as fast, so hold on if your standing!
The nearest bus stops are Calle 100, I got off on my return at Calle 85 to walk around the club / restaurant area, although Diana recommended Calle 100. The hotel can give you a map of the stops, it lists which particular stations the buses stop in very small numbers, so be prepared to strain your eyes. I had Diana circle the stops along with hotel location for my convenience.
The bus stations are pretty long, so ask at payment window where to stand. I just said B13, waved my hands while pointing to doors on my side of street and they pointed to area.
Geting on, is not as bad as a NYC subway, more like Philly EL towards end of rush hour, its tight, but not too bad. This was on a Saturday. I imagine week days to be lighter outside of work rush.
I walked a long distance on my first visit without a map, it took me 4 hours from La Candelaria area to Holiday Inn Express, I stopped a few times, but it was a LONG walk. Not for the faint, it was so long, once I reached my hotel about 8 pm, I showered, expected to go out, but zonked out in bed instead about 9 pm while in a foreign country on a Saturday night!
TIP: If you get confused as to which direction your going, look to the mountains. If they are to your front, your going east, to your right, your going north, finally... to you left, your heading south.
TIP: If you do a long walk north / south or vice-versa go along Carrera 7, it's a nice walk with many parks and sights, mostly non touristy but interesting. There is a lot of people and traffic, I felt completely safe.
Diana also directed me to a Sunday outside independent vendor market south end is at Calle 116 BIS (about 1/2 street further if coming from hotel) than Calle 116 and it runs along Carrea 6A, just east of Carrea 7 and ends at Calle 120. It's about four long streets of vendors of all types along with restaurants along route and surrounding streets.
There is a huge, seemingly never ending mall located just south of Calle 116 BIS called Hacienda or something. It's many levels and has a lot of regular shops. You can use it as starting or ending point to market.
Getting to the market was my only disappoint with Holiday Inn Express, Saturday Diana told me it was walkable and a nice walk at that, since Bogota closes many streets to cars on Sundays.
Fast forward to Sunday, a different front desk clerk, still very friendly, told me it was much to far to walk and practically insisted I take a white taxi. I didn't know any better, so I did. The driver took about 15 minutes to make it to destination, I was relived to take it. BUT when I went to leave, I noticed I was on Carrea 7, looked at my phone map and saw the Holiday Inn Express was totally walkable, I had forgotten that streets were closed to cars, so the taxi had to take a round about way.
TIP: US cell phones don't work too well in Bogota, if you wan't to use a map on phone, download one that doesn't require data connection, otherwise it will not work!
The Aire Conditioner didn't really cool down room, so prepare to be warm.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.