Welcome to our weekly series Hotel Tip of The Week. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way. For all the dingy, disappointing budget digs, there are as many budget accommodation gems. We post one hotel tip of the week, every week, of places we feel confident recommending after having tried and tested them ourselves.
Leon, Nicaragua has quite a few of those uber-cool popular hostels – which have limited double rooms, cavernous always-packed dorms and bars blasting Manu Chao and offering cheap beer to backpackers from around the world. We don’t mind hanging out in these hostels. We went often for the cheap beer and food, and it’s fun to meet the international crowd. In Leon, this means hanging at the Via Via and Bigfoot Hostel right across the street from each other. But during our two weeks in the city, we were always relieved to go home every night to our secret little Nicaraguan home from home – The Colibri. This hostel won’t be for you if you are looking to party hard, but if you are looking for peace and quiet, this hostel offers everything you need to feel at home.
The clean, if dark, double rooms go for only $15 per night – and you won’t find anything cheaper unless you stay in a dorm either here or at one of the other hostels in town. There are also triple and quad rooms available. Each room has bedside lamps, a fan, and comfortable beds. Some rooms also have outdoor seating – one with two rocking chairs and another with a little breakfast nook. Bathrooms are shared with cold water, which is all you need in the Leon’s 90 degree (35 Celcius) heat. The price per night includes a basic breakfast with toast & jam, juice and coffee.
The Colibri, like most Nicaraguan houses, is built in a rectangle around two courtyards, one in front and one in back. The front space has two high quality glass patio tables with umbrellas and comfortable chairs, while in the back there is a green garden (with hummingbirds) plus a covered patio with two tables and two hammocks. In between is the kitchen (see Stand Out features below) and an eating area with enough seating for a medium-sized restaurant, where the bottomless coffee machine is kept (and kept full!).
Stand Out Features
The Kitchen: No matter how much we like a hotel, we feel most at home when there is a clean kitchen, and the Colibri definitely delivers in this category. The kitchen is spacious, with loads of counterspace for several people to prepare food at the same time, all the utensils, pots and pans to create a tasty masterpiece with all the goods you pick up in Leon’s excellent central market nearby. We also give bonus points for the refrigerator – it is kept spotless.
Internet: The wi-fi connection at The Colibri is excellent. We almost always had maximum reception which was consistently reliable and Skyping was a breeze. For those who need to get work done or call friends from home, this was one of the best accommodation choices we have found for that in Central America.
Location: El Colibri is just a few minutes walk from the Cathedral and Central Park, and a big supermarket (La Union), movie theater (with film in English), Leon’s main market, clothes stores, internet cafés, parks, other hostels, El Desayunazo breakfast restaurant, and lots of other restaurants are within just a few blocks. The hostel could not have a better location!
Room for improvement – The Friendliness Factor
To us, the manager of the Colibri was helpful, talkative and friendly. Unfortunately we heard conflicting accounts from fellow guests at the hotel. One couple shared a great rapport with the manager and found her helpful as well. However, another couple at first felt she was grumpy and a few days later reported that she had made a fuss with baggage storage after they had checked out, as they wanted to explore for a few hours before they moved on to Laguna de Apoyo. She stored our luggage with an at-your-service attitude and a smile, so hearing this was a surprise. Most relationships are relative, and different people get different vibes from people, but it is the job of the hotel staff to make sure all guests have the same feeling of welcome.
Extra tip: The Colibri has a sister hostel two blocks to the west. La Iguana is a brand new super chic hostel. The hostel has a cafe onsite and all rooms have private bathrooms, and is a great deal for $25 a night.
If you do stay at the Colibri, we would love to know how you felt about your stay, what your stand out features would be and room for improvement would be.
Location: The Colibri is located in 1 Ave Norte, 50 meters north of the church La Recoleccion.
Price: $15 for a double room, $10 single room, $6 dorm
LGBT Friendly: A resounding yes
Amenities: Excellent high-speed wi-fi, bottomless coffee, excellent workspace in front and back, hammocks
Digital Nomad Friendly: See those amenities? Definitely!