We were deposited at Mamallena Cartagena after Captain Sebastian of the Corto II cut our time in the San Blas islands short (read more about our high seas hijinks at pasturebraised.com/san_blas_panama/).
Our original Cartagena plan was to spend three nights at Hotel Puertas de Cartagena for a little post-sailing R&R. But when Sebastian dropped six of us at the docks at 8am Sunday morning with nothing more than a suggestion to cab to Mamallena (we'd booked the trip through Mamallena Panama City) plans changed.
Mamallena Cartagena was a really pleasant surprise. It's a pretty small hostel with a festively grafted courtyard, and large, wonderfully dark and cool bar/restaurant (they're totally cool with you using it while not patronizing the bar).
We ended up juggling our reservation to stay at Mamallena both before and after a night at Hotel Puertas de Cartagena. It was too good a value to pass up.
Rooms are large and clean if not brimming with personality. The staff is polite—the owner, Stuart, is the most friendly of the crew.
The neighborhood has a great energized up-and-coming vibe. There are lots of cheap and cheerful jeugo and lunch options on the block, and be sure to have a roof-top drink around the corner at Malagana Cafe.
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