72 Hours in Bogotá, Colombia: Where To Stay, Where To Play

72 Hours in Bogotá, Colombia: Where To Stay, Where To Play

Taking a weekend trip to Bogota, Colombia? Here's the best and V-approved places to stay, shop, see, eat, drink, and play.

Taking a weekend trip to Bogota, Colombia? Here's the best and V-approved places to stay, shop, see, eat, drink, and play.

“Magical realism” is an arts term used among creatives to label those styles that permit fantasy within logic—for magic in the day-to-day. It is said to have emerged from Latin America. This is thanks in part to Colombia, where magical realism exists beyond the page and the canvas. Few places induce sensory newness like this strange, colorful, chaotic and wonderful country, and few cities promise quite such a trip as its capital, Bogotá.

Bogotá can be challenging—it rests at approximately 8,500 feet above sea level, meaning its air is thin (drink more water, less booze). Traffic is terrible. And timing is fluid—a logistical victim, perhaps, of the fantastical realm, loosely knitted into the urbane and mellow social textile of the city. All of this is forgiven, though, when taking in the kaleidoscopic visual and visceral riches Bogotá offers: the densely crisscrossing telephone wires, the florist’s van overflowing with xanthous birds-of-paradise, the pines and the palm trees commingling on the steep surrounding slopes, and the metropolitan sprawl that runs the savannah in a north/south orientation, as graceful and sleek as a condor’s wing. It is a beautiful, sophisticated place—and it has plenty to see. Here, see V’s mini-guide for a long weekend in La Atenas Suramericana:

Where to Stay: The W Bogotá. Located in the northern neighborhood of Usaquén, the W Bogotá has got all the basics for a chilled out weekend in the city: cooly comfortable rooms (with great views—ask for the highest floor, 17, facing west), a solid spa (including a pool), a great cocktail menu (try the Ginger Margarita) and a generally hip scene. Its best (secret) service: by special inquiry, you can request a private spin lesson with the hotel’s music curator and resident DJ, Nicolas Saavedra. Set up in a private back-room, he will have you mixing within the hour—and tip you off regarding the best parties in town on any given night.

The lounge at the W Bogota Photo: @wbogotahotel

Where to Play: Explore the Usaquén neighborhood, a short walk from the W, as it happens. There are plenty of bars and restaurants for a quick bite or drink, as well as street vendors selling locally made goods. Usaquén used to be an old colonial town that was swallowed up as the city grew (around the mid-century). Its then-and-now mix is super charming and equally as relaxing. Another must see: the busier—but beautiful—La Candelaria area (which houses the Museo Botero [for the rotund silhouette-favoring artist, Fernando Botero] and the Museo del Oro [gold], among others).

"El Estudio" by Fernando Botero at the Museo Botero. Photo @avriloconnor

What to Shop: There is so, so much good stuff to buy in Bogotá. There are myriad street vendors, markets (including the famous flowers of Paloquemao), and boutiques. For chic costume jewelry, pick up some pieces from Mercedes Salazar. Her intricate chandelier earrings are amazing. Then head to Pepa Pombo for sleek, polychromatic dresses from the Bogotá-based label—which has been cultivating a local fan base since 1978, and which recently broke out on the global scene. For more of a street vibe, check out Royal Skateboards. And, for awesome, endemically-made home goods, the silversmiths’ wares at Galena are need-it-now status.

Mercedes Salazar Photo: @mercedessalazar

Where to Eat: For lunch, try Primi, at Carrera 13 85-85. The bruschetta is excellent. For dinner, book a table at Prudencia, the newish restaurant that promises a contemporary spin on Colombian fare. (The owners grow herbs and flowers in the back garden—where they also smoke meats and vegetables.) It is nearly universally recommended!

Prudencia Photo: @livinginbogota_oficial

Where to Drink: Though some decry the quality of the place now that it’s a franchise, Bogotá Beer Company is worth a visit for a pint. It brews its own ales and lagers—and it has a sizable range. One must-try? The Cajicá Honey Ale, which has a sweetness thanks to a “generous addition of Colombian organic honey.”

Bogota Beer Company Photo: @bogotabeercompany

What to See: You must visit FLORA ars+natura. It is a residence program, a gallery, a café, a store, a community center and a think-tank all in one. Every year, it hosts a roster of young artists who apply for different grants—the building holds multiple studios where each creative spends 12 months developing their newest works. The design is beautiful and the vibe is good—it’s definitely one of the coolest spots in Bogotá. Another arts destination: Sketch Gallery, around the corner from FLORA. Housed in a converted town home, with a chic enclosed garden of palm trees and moss, Sketch just concluded a show by the artist Andre Zignnatto—concerning bricks, and their until-now undiscovered malleability. Stay tuned for 2017’s programming; it’s sure to be enticing.

FLORA ars+natura Photo: @floraarsnatura

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