We stayed twice at this hostel with a month in between (they held our luggage which was great). Our initial impressions via email contact with Stuart the owner were very good, he replies quickly and with plenty of information.
We reserved a private double with shared bathroom. These rooms are at the back of the complex which is good from a noise perspective. The hostel rooms are either side of a busy courtyard and can be a little noisy but our room was at the very back of the hostel and was one of the few rooms that didn't have openings in the walls so it was not a problem to sleep, the slight downside was that the room could be quite warm as it didnt tend to get the afternoon breeze but it did have a nice powerful fan so we tended to sleep fine. The rooms are a little small and very basic but are reasonably priced for this town.
The first stay at the hostel was a little chaotic, the hostel was full as some big groups had arrived off the boats. This gave the hostel a good vibe but it did highlight the problem for the double rooms with shared bathroom - they share one bathroom which is minimal for the rooms itself but when all the others from the dorms use it as well the wait can be a long one. After our 16hr bus journey we had to wait a couple of hours for our shower. Considering the dorms have showers/bathrooms it would be good if they could limit the one bathroom to the double rooms only. Stuart wasn't here on this stay and the staff were a bit surlish.
The second stay was much quieter and had a low key vibe, Stuart was back and the staff seemed much better and more friendly.
A pancake breakfast is included, the hostel has a kitchen, 3 computers for use and wi-fi. Laundry was reasonably priced. There is a bar out the front of the hostel but otherwise people tended to relax with a few drinks in the courtyard which made for a good atmosphere without being too crazy.
The location is in gestamani which is just outside the old city proper a short walk away. The area is full of colourful old buildings and seems to be becoming the main area for hostels, bars and restaurants.
Mama llena has a lot of useful information on the boats through the San Blas islands and has information on which boats are leaving, prices and availability. I did feel that when asking for information from Stuart about the boats he was quite abrupt and short with his answers, I understand he doesn't want to give too much expectations for services he doesnt provide himself but if you are going to sell the boats people will have questions. We went with the Darien Gapster out of Capurgana and it was a great trip.
Overall a good choice especially if you want to meet people, fun atmosphere without being all night party
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