Tucked away in the Eje Cafetero, the coffee region of Colombia, lies the little town of Salento. Salento has become a major stop for travelers in Colombia thanks to the famous Valle de Cocora, myriad coffee farms, and stunning views of the area’s rolling green hills. Our experience in Salento, Colombia was amazing, and one of the major reasons for that was our hostel: La Serrana Hostel and Eco-Farm.
It’s no secret that a hostel experience can make or break a town for travelers. We had heard of lackluster hostels in Salento, so we were a little worried. But as our Willy (Salento’s unique form of public transportation) pulled up to the rolling green hills of picturesque La Serrana Hostel, our doubts disappeared. We would soon find out that La Serrana was destined to go down in our memories as one of our favorite hostels in Colombia.
About La Serrana Hostel in Salento
La Serrana is actually an eco-farm and hostel. It has that warm and cozy hacienda in the middle of the mountains vibe, but it’s only about a ten minute walk down a gravel road to Salento’s central plaza. Even if we hadn’t spent our 3-day stay in Salento touring a nearby coffee farm or hiking the Valle de Cocora, we would have had a wonderful time relaxing on one of La Serrana’s many big leather couches reading a book. But just in case you’re not as lazy as we are, La Serrana Hostel also offers horseback riding, mountain biking, and organized tours of coffee farms.
The grounds of La Serrana are nestled on a hill overlooking a stunning valley on one side, with a scenic mountain view on the other. The grounds consist of several small buildings. The main house contains the welcoming reception area, a cozy living room, dorms, private rooms, a dining room, and a fully equipped kitchen. Surprisingly, no one was using the kitchen when we entered – which seemed odd, because it was big and had loads of equipment. We realized on our second day why no one was using the kitchen…
The Food at La Serrana Hostel in Salento
The food at La Serrana is incredible. First of all, it’s priced so reasonably that even with all of our penny pinching backpacker habits, (cuz you know we rolled up to the crib with 2 boxes of pasta and some ziploc baggies of spices) we couldn’t come up with a cheaper option. Not that we even wanted to. Let me break it down.
For breakfast at La Serrana, you get one of two included (read: FREE!) options: Eggs and toast, or fruit and toast. You can also order handmade yogurt, juice, smoothies, bacon, local cheese, and more, all individually priced. Meaning you can load up on hike day (for one does not simply visit La Serrana in Salento without also hiking the Valle de Cocora). The breakfast was fantastic, you guys. I wasn’t even mad when Jeremy developed a mango smoothie habit (the fresh yogurt is incredible).
But that’s just breakfast, and that’s not even the main attraction. Hold onto something, because I’m about to flip your entire world upside down. (OK, maybe I’m SLIGHTLY exaggerating.)
For about 15,000 COP/$5 USD, La Serrana offers a family-style dinner, featuring fresh, local, sustainable produce from their organic garden. Let me just repeat that for those of you who are skimming:
$5 ALL YOU CAN EAT DINNER.
And it’s not like the shitty $5 Chinese buffet in your hometown that’s never worth the day-after shame, regret, and stomachache. No, this is fresh, organic, locally grown, handmade all you can eat deliciousness for $5. $5! You guys! Are you booking your stay yet?! (Psst: book here.)
The menu changes every night. During our stay at La Serrana we had burrito night, including freshly made tortillas and several heaping, frequently filled bowls of choices to fill your burrito; and Mediterranean night, with kebobs and delicious fresh made hummus. We loved that the dinners are all served family style. In this case, “family style” roughly translates to “I’m super full, but I’m totally having a fourth serving anyway.”
The Atmosphere at La Serrana Hostel
The other benefit to family style meals is the opportunity to meet your fellow travelers. There’s something about sharing a cheap, delicious, bottomless meal side by side around a big table that encourages conversation, and we had a great time getting to know a few of the travelers staying with us at La Serrana Hostel. We laughed and told travel stories all night through firsts, seconds, and thirds, and even over dessert (which cost a tiny extra fee but was totally worth it for the delicious chocolate cake made by a lovely local Salento woman who happened to give us a ride into town later on during our stay because everyone in Colombia is lovely and kind). After a couple of family style dinners spent cheerfully chatting and swapping Valle de Cocora failure stories, we developed a little group of new traveler friends (with whom we went out salsa dancing at a nearby bar, as you do). The social atmosphere at La Serrana Hostel was one of the best we’ve enjoyed at any hostel, up there with Casa Loma in Minca, Colombia.
Another wonderful social activity that La Serrana Hostel offers is a nightly bonfire around its fire pit. You can purchase s’mores supplies at reception if you wish (and wine, of course. They go hand in hand, really). There is a wide circle of seats around the fire, which allows for the kind of bonfire atmosphere that is enveloping as well as relaxing. Someone always has a guitar, someone else is usually singing lazily along, and the rest of us alternate between happily listening, gazing at the bright stars above, or chatting with our fellow travelers (and sharing our s’mores and wine, of course). We weren’t the only ones chirping “see you at the bonfire!” to our new hostel friends at the end of the family-style dinner. If it sounds a bit like summer camp, well, we won’t argue: we were staying in a tent, after all. Besides, summer camp is awesome.
Accomodations at La Serrana Hostel
Although La Serrana has budget options available (dorms start at 30,000 COP/$10 USD) we chose to splurge a bit. After weeks of dorm rooms, we wanted a private room (it’s our freaking honeymoon, after all). La Serrana Hostel has a unique option that we said yes to: a deluxe glamping tent for 85,000 COP/$30 USD a night – hardly a splurge by most standards, but it sure felt like a lot in comparison to the $10 dorms! The glamping tent is a big, cozy canvas tent built onto a wooden deck overlooking a valley, fully outfitted with electricity, a warm bed, and a dresser. We fell asleep peacefully listening to the wind as rain fell on the tarp covering our canvas tent: all the best parts of camping outside, with none of the discomfort! Our favorite part of our tent was the view from the deck. Eucalyptus trees, gardens, chirping birds, grazing cows, mountains, coffee farms, sunset … it was absolutely spectacular. We shared a romantic honeymoon evening watching the sun set over the mountains and drinking blueberry wine on our deck. We then proceeded to ruin the romance by nerdily drunk birding.
In addition to the fancy glamping tents and dorm options available, you can camp at La Serrana Hostel with your own gear: we saw a few tents, hammocks, and even an RV parked on the grassy lawn, in close proximity to the clean shared bathrooms. For a budget traveler, it’s a fantastic option: camping is only 20,000 COP/$7 a night. If luxury is more your thing, La Serrana’s sister property, Las Camelias, has private rooms and its own lounge, from 125,000 COP/$43 USD. See prices and more information about rooms here.
Our Favorite La Serrana Hostel Moment
Our favorite story from La Serrana Hostel actually starts with a catastrophe: the entire town of Salento experienced a power outage. Nobody in town seemed terribly bothered by this, except us, because we needed to get cash out of an ATM to pay the Willy that we had just taken back from our disastrous Valle de Cocora hike. True to Colombian form, everything was tranquilo. Our taxi driver took us the rest of the way back to La Serrana Hostel where we scrounged for change in the dark to pay him with. Covered in mud and sweat, we showered by flashlight in freezing cold water. Famished, shivering, and exhausted, we carefully made our way in the dark to the dining room at dinner time, hoping against all odds that they’d at least serve us SOMETHING to eat despite the lack of power.
The last thing we expected was to find the entire dining room glowing with the light of hundreds of candles, stuck into hundreds of recycled wine bottles and bathing us all in a warm, welcoming light. If you’ve ever experienced that post-hike “all I want in the world is to eat something” feeling, you’ll know the relief we felt when we realized that a power outage hadn’t even fazed the fearless staff of La Serrana. They were cheerfully piling plates high with steaming hot food and setting tables for a charming, intimate candlelit dinner.
Later in the evening, as we sat happily behind empty plates and wine glasses, the owner of La Serrana announced that we were part of a video for the hostel: a camera was recording our flickering candelit dinner, and – we hadn’t even noticed – someone had been pacing the tables with a guitar, in real-life slow motion We’ve been searching for the video ever since! I hope it surfaces one day! The ownerr asked us if we would all help to finish the video by blowing out the candles together. So on the count of three, we all blew out hundreds of candles together, giggling and cheering. It was a magical and memorable moment, one of the highlights of our month in Colombia.
There’s a reason travelers from all over flock to Salento, Colombia. Part of it is its breathtaking scenery: the rolling mountains, sprawling coffee farms, and staggeringly high palm trees. But while Salento is hands down the most beautiful region of Colombia that we visited, there was something special about the little town of Salento. The peaceful little haven of La Serrana Hostel was one of the highlights of our trip to Colombia – the best hostel in Salento and one of the best hostels in all of Colombia. We’ll be back.
Information for La Serrana Hostel & Eco-Farm
- Booking: Hostelworld
- Website: http://laserrana.com.co/
- Address: KM 1.5 Via Palestina Finca, Salento, Quindio, Colombia
- Email: [email protected]
- Phone: +57 (316) 296 – 1890
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PS: If you scrolled to the bottom of the page to see whether this was a sponsored post, it wasn’t. We honestly just really liked this La Serrana in Salento! That said, please note that if you book through Hostelworld using our affiliate link, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Oh! And thanks to clandestino_20 on flickr for his original photo, which we edited for our feature photo under Creative Commons license 2.0.