“ Address: Calle 21A 10 66 Tunja, Boyaca, 578, Colombia / Tel: (0)87424111 „
Tunja is a Colonial city a few hours from Bogota, and since the hotel selection is (allegedly) better tan in our final destination of Villa de Leyva, my sister and I decided to stay here en route. Or, rather, I decided and informed her of the plans.
*** Location, Location, Location ***
The hotel is well located just a couple of blocks from the main plaza and about 15 minutes stroll (up hill) from the bus station. At the same time, it`s quite a nice quiet location. The views from our room were nice if you looked up and out, especially at night when the city is lit up. If you look down you see the swimming pool roof...slightly less exciting. We were there during Semana Santa (holy week) which Tunja goes all out for so we were able to see the processions from our window, and went downstairs to watch them in their full gory glory.
*** You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression ***
I had booked through Booking.com in part because this was the only hotel in the city listed on an international reservation website. We arrived shortly after the 3pm check in time, and were immediately presented with an unusual hotel entrance. Instead of automatic doors, they had 2 small regular ones, and one of these was locked. On the other side, in full view of the street, were a few sofas making a vague attempt to look like a lobby. We went to the reception desk and the receptionist quickly found my reservation. The first issue arose when she wanted photo ID for BOTH of us to check in. I have a local ID card since I legally work here, but my sister had sensibly left her passport in my apartment in Bogota. She had a photo driving license but the receptionist wasn`t sure, and only relented when we told her the passport number (easily memorized for regular travelers) and promised to email a scanned copy when back home. I know they like to register people here, but I didn`t expect them to need ID from everyone. She also kept our IDs to photocopy and called a bell hop to show us and our tiny backpacks to our room...
*** Room For Improvement? ***
Our room was on the 8th floor. There were two lifts, but only one ever came. And, although we were in room 818, there were only 7 clearly visible on our floor. I had booked a double room as that was the default, so was pleased to find we had a room with two large beds, perhaps assigned on check in when I confirmed my sister´s nationality by explaining our genetic relationship.
The room was large if a little sparse. We had a massive TV with a good selection of channels including many in English, from CNN to subtitled Sony. We also had a desk for writing on, but with no accessible plugs it would have been a pain with a laptop. There was also one comfy chair. The beds were divided by a bedside table that would have been fine if it weren`t so cluttered: housing a phone, an alarm clock, a massive lamp and two telephone directories (including the not very useful Bogota yellow pages) there wasn`t much room for our books.
The bathroom was in fact a shower room. The cubicle was large with a fun rainforest shower head, but was a bit dark as the only light was out by the loo. We had shampoos and soaps provided, and there was also a candle and matches (for extra light?)
The main stand out feature of the room was the hotel´s odd number dyslexia. In a room for 2 (or even a family of 4) we had 1 pair of slippers, 2 towels (not enough for long haired girls!) and 8 pillows, a whopping 4 on each bed. There were two wardrobes, one empty and one with a few hangers. We also had a fridge rather than a minibar: they had stocked it but also left room for anything we wanted to chill ourselves. Our room had an unlocked connecting door to next door. Their connecting door was locked but it still seemed odd (and to have two connecting doors through one doorway at that).
Wifi was supposed to be provided, and you need a code from reception to access it. We got one but Big
Sis`s bat phone could not connect, though we weren`t sure which side the problem lay one, and with no laptop with us, we couldn`t investigate further.
The room was lovely and quiet at night and with the blackout curtains was suitably dark too. There was no air con or heating, but the time of year we went it was a nice temperature. The window could be open dangerously - you could jump if you were so inclined - and was hard to shut again, but mainly because it had warped slightly. The overall impression of the room was clean if a little worn around the edges.
*** No P*ssing In the Piscina ***
One of the reasons I booked this hotel was because it has a pool. We´d both packed our swimsuits and noted on the in room info sheet that it was open 6.00 to 8pm. We took this to mean for 14 hours a day. As we quickly discovered, the hotel meant for just a couple of hours. That`s kinda odd, right? But we dutifully waited and went in the evening. The hotel is on the 4th floor, and they have a couple of Turkish saunas down on the 3rd floor. Cue lots of towel-clad dashing between the two. The pool was large and had lots of sun loungers, but was rather chilly. It had a sun roof so would have been nice during the day - somehow only opening it during hours of darkness seemed a bit daft. The pool and saunas both have supervising staff, though not a life guard, and children under 12 are not permitted into the pool by themselves.
Although it seemed that there was no entrance back to the rooms, as we scuttled through the lobby in towels the receptionist told us we could have accessed the main bit from the 4th floor. The hotel thinks it is very green so she assured us lights would have come on in the otherwise dark corridor, had we opened the door. On the same note, hot water is limited (!) to 5am - 10am, and 6pm - 10pm each day, which is a bit naughty when check out is not until 1pm.
*** Breaking The Fast ***
We were never going to be sleeping until 1pm anyway. Big Sis is jet lagged and I am used to starting work at 6.30am, so although we restrained ourselves a little, we were stomping through the doors of the restaurant with rumbly tummies shortly after 7am. For a hotel of this size, the restaurant is quite small and several of the tables were set up for 8 or more people. We chose one for 4, the smallest setting on offer, and approached the `American Buffet`. The selection was adequate but not the spread I was expecting. There were 5 cereals, plus milk and a fruit yogurt, and sliced melon and papaya. Bread was a mix of seeded loaves, plain ones and rolls, and they had butter, blackberry jam and cheese to add on top. The hot selection included eggs they would cook to order, sausages and Arepa (traditional corn pancakes). Drinks were either blackberry or guayaba juice (no orange or apple here!) and your normal hot drinks. On a good buffet I can eat enough to last me all day, but this wasn`t exciting enough so I just had a bit of bread and cereal.
In the evening the restaurant serves main meals but from the look of the room service menu these are quite limited and not that cheap. The hotel has no bar or other facilities, except several conference rooms.
*** It´s A.... Maybe***
For one night we were perfectly comfortable and safe, and at 60 GBP per room including breakfast for two, it wasn`t a massive rip off. But I don`t think it offered enough big hotel bonuses to make me want to return, and you can find much smaller and cheaper places in the city if you don`t mind sacrificing your two potential hours swimming per night and free wifi. It`s not a deal breaker for Colombia as internet cafes are so cheap - about 60p per hour - and we could have paid for many hours with the money saved by staying somewhere cheaper.
The hotel is quite bland. It´s not distinctly Colombian and has none of the redeeming features of Tunja (like fabulous murals on the ceilings, as seen in a number of buildings in town).
The hotel is a convention centre, which means they have a few meeting rooms. For that I would recommend it, as it seemed to have decent facilities and could cater for groups, but if you`re staying for pleasure, you might get more, well, pleasure elsewhere.
The hotel`s website is here:
But as always you will pay less than their standard rack rates if you book online elsewhere.
Calle 21A, between Carerra 10 and 11, Tunja, Boyaca, Colombia