Prepare to be charmed. As soon as you set foot in Bogotá, the diverse, thriving capital of Colombia, all your preconceptions of an “infamous” city will melt away (as deliciously as cheese in a fresh, corn arepa).  Now your only hesitation will be over which temptation to indulge first:  visual, experiential or gastronomic.

No matter what strategy of delight you choose, you will inevitably spend a day (or more) in the Candelaria.  Though it is the historic center of Bogotá, the atmosphere in the Candelaria is anything but old.  The buildings are a mix of 16th century stone, decorative Spanish colonial, with some Art Deco thrown in, but the young, bohemian crowd fills the streets with a vibrant, art-school vibe. If Bogotá seems a city of youth, it’s not surprising, as the South American intellectual capital has upwards of 106 institutions of higher education.

 

There is nothing more rewarding than traipsing up and down the undulating cobblestone streets.  Peering down their narrow alleys you’ll discover hidden gems of artisanal boutiques or romantic, little restaurants with candle-lit corners to tuck into.  Then, when you’ve sated your appetite with traditional Colombian cuisine (let me mention the delicious arepas again) and warmed your spirit with a cup of Colombian-style hot chocolate (complete with a good splash of Agua Diente—the anise-tinged national liquor), so as not to make your bed-bound journey too far, we recommend La Casa Platypus as your temporary “home sweet home.”

 

La Casa Platypus is the perfect compliment for your Colombian enchantment—easy to get to and easy to branch out from.  Its location is ideal: right on the edge of Las Aguas plaza, where the Candelaria meets Chapinero, a district that feels more metropolitan, with streets that echo 5th Avenue and Broadway. When we visited La Casa, we found ourselves often circling back to its cozy premises, as it happily seemed on the way to everything, and made a nice point to regroup, have a cup of their ever-flowing coffee, and be back on track refreshed.

Fitting right into the bohemian personality of its surroundings, La Casa has a unique style and laid-back atmosphere that welcomes its guests and gives them a sense of being at home.  A generous, homemade breakfast is waiting for you when you awake, easing you into a new day with fresh, local, incredibly delicious fruits and juices, cereals, mountains of toast and eggs prepared to your liking.  Of course, the copious, fragrant coffee is Colombian.

 

The interior courtyard is bright and cheerful, full of flowering plants and sunshine.  Similarly, the roof terrace makes for a tranquil place to take in the Bogotá skyline—a patchwork of red-tiled roofs set against the misty, green Guadalupe and Monserrate mountains (that nestle around the whole city)—and either relax in solitude, or share travel stories with other guests over a cold Club Colombia beer.

- Ava Fedorov

Photographs by Jeffery Owens and Ava Fedorov for Socially Superlative