Santa Marta was not a place I expected to stay long. When I first arrived from Barranquilla, I expected a short stopover, maybe one night, but I kept extending my stay until I had spent nearly a week in town. Santa Marta’s central location makes it a great base to explore the nearby town of Taganga, head to Tayrona National Park, or serve as a starting-off point for a trek to Ciudad Perdida (something I sadly missed out on this trip). To be perfectly honest, though, I wasn’t doing much of anything that week. Santa Marta is also a popular vacation destination for Colombians (it’s where my Barranquilla-born friend used to spend his summers), and I was taking it easy like them.
A big part of what I enjoyed most about the place was the hostel I stayed in, La Brisa Loca. It was my first total gringo hostel and was actually a really nice, unexpected break after speaking Spanish almost nonstop my first week in Colombia. I’m all for cultural immersion, but sometimes it’s comforting to just sit and talk for long hours in your mother tongue… though of course after a few days of that, I felt like my Spanish was seriously going backwards because I wasn’t forced to speak it all the time!
More than the fun other travelers, though, La Brisa Loca is probably the most beautiful, comfortable hostel I’ve stayed in. It looks more like a boutique hotel inside. This place is a gorgeous, fully restored mansion, with a full bar, small pool, tv room (I never ventured inside, but I heard it exists), and spacious rooftop deck with big wooden chairs to lounge around in and at least five hammocks hanging in a shaded area.
The dorms are cozy and clean (private rooms are also available), the beds are comfy, and they have the biggest lockers I’ve ever seen. Seriously, these things are giant wooden boxes that roll under your bed (also handy as a step to help get up on the top bunk), very secure (use your own lock), and big enough to fit even the largest backpack plus some extra stuff. I’ve decided every hostel in the world should have ones just like them!
You can buy practically anything you want at the bar and they just put it on your room tab, which can actually be a little dangerous for us budget travelers! Apparently you can even buy a box of Kraft dinner at reception at 2 AM when everything else is closed and make it for yourself in the hostel kitchen, not that I did that.
They also host all kinds of events and excursions. One night they hosted trivia in the bar, and as a huge collector of useless knowledge of course I had to participate. My team ended up winning, with 25 points out of 30! We should have won best team name as well (“My couch pulls out, but I don’t.”), but apparently there is some sort of rule against winning more than one prize. Bullshit. So we took our free bottle of rum and went home… or rather, up to the roof deck to enjoy our spoils.
Speaking of which, watch out because it gets super windy up there, especially at night! At one point a huge gust came and sent my nearly-full glass of rum and coke flying across the table. They weren’t kidding about the name of this place.
Where to find La Brisa Loca:
Calle 14 N3-58, Centro Historico, Santa Marta