Colombia offers choices for all budgets, from excellent hostels and boutique hotels to occasional jaw-dropping accommodations clinging to cliffs. Book ahead around major religious holidays and festivals like Semana Santa and Christmas.
- Backpacker hostels Widely available and often quite good, especially in traveler hot spots like Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena.
- Budget hotels & hospedajes Simple and functional accommodations, often family-run and mostly catering to Colombians.
- Midrange hotels Rare; catering mostly to the Colombian business crowd.
- Top-end hotels Colonial mansions, boutique hotels and seaside resorts – there's plenty to love at Colombia's top end.
- Camping A growing number of campsites welcome tent-toting tourists.
- For ages camping was out of bounds in Colombia, but the 2016 peace accord ended the 52-year civil war, freeing up some remote regions of the country. As a result, more and more Colombians are strapping on a pack and getting reacquainted with their beautiful country via a small but growing list of campgrounds, as well as by pitching tents in the wild.
- Backpacker tourism is booming in Colombia. All hostels have dorm beds for around COP$22,000 to COP$50,000, and most have a few private rooms for COP$65,000 to COP$120,000.
- Many of the most established hostels are members of the Colombian Hostels Association. The most comprehensive listing of hostels is at www.hosteltrail.com.
- Also sometimes called residencias, hospedajes or posadas, hotels generally suggest places of a higher standard, or at least higher prices. Cheaper accommodations are usually clustered around markets, bus terminals and in the backstreets of the city center. If you speak Spanish and wish to avoid the gringo trail, a budget private room with hot water, air-con and cable TV goes for between COP$35,000 and COP$45,000 – cheaper than a hostel.
- Midrange hotels are rare in Colombia. Prices tend to jump rapidly from budget cheapies to three- and four-star hotels, with little in between. Nevertheless, there are often a handful of hotels in the COP$80,000 to COP$190,000 range, usually in city centers, which cater primarily to Colombian business travelers, though a number of midrange boutique hotels have also popped up in recent times.
- All the major cities have top-end hotels charging from COP$190,000 per night. The best choices of top-end hotels are in Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena.
- There are a handful of package-style resorts on the Caribbean coast and on San Andrés. Most are frequented by Colombians, rather than foreign package tourists, and are usually excellent value.
- The Pacific coast also has several good all-inclusives, but they are definitely for the more adventurous type as the area is quite remote and is heavily patrolled by the army.
- For a selection of some of the best small resorts and rural accommodations, see www.colfincas.com (in Spanish only).
- If you are booking a package resort deal from outside the country, you are exempt from the 19% IVA hotel tax. Some hotels may not know this rule, so be sure to ask for the discount.
A law passed in 2016 technically exempts foreigners from taxes on some travel-oriented services (the 19% IVA tax on accommodations, for example). Theoretically speaking, if you're in Colombia for less than 60 days and show your lodgings the stamp in your passport, you shouldn't have to pay the accommodation tax. However, in practice this is patchy, and if you are charged the 19% IVA, getting the money back requires a bit of hoop-jumping. Receipts must be shown at an office of the National Department of Taxes and Customs (DIAN; www.dian.gov.co) before leaving the country; you'll also have to fill out a form and present your passport and a photocopy of a valid tourist visa.