Travelling to Jerico in Colombia’s Antioquia region? Base your stay in this charming town at El Despertar, the most atmospheric boutique hotel in Colombia.
It didn’t take long for us to fall head over heals in love with the tiny town of Jerico in Colombia’s Antioquia region. A big part of the reason we were so smitten with Jerico was our choice of hotel, El Despertar.
Located partway down a steep hill, walking distance from the centre of Jerico and the main square, El Despertar is perfectly positioned. It may look modest from the street, but venture inside, and you’ll see why El Despertar is considered one of the most charming boutique hotels in all of Colombia.
Planning a trip to Colombia? Check out my round-up of 24 stunning places to visit, as recommended by me and other travel writers.
Our stay at El Despertar boutique hotel in Colombia
El Despertar is a family owned business managed by Spanish-Colombian couple, Cristobal and Pilar. They live upstairs with their children and pet Rhodesian Ridgebacks while guests sleep in the lower part of the home. The hotel is still new, having first opened its doors to guests in 2017.
The house itself is a 15th-century-style Antioquian villa, with many design features familiar to other houses in Jerico and Colombia’s coffee region more generally. El Despertar makes quite an entrance—a massive glass-roofed central atrium opens out from the entryway reception area. Decorated with stained glass panels, hanging flower baskets and leafy plants, it’s the heart and soul of the property.
The name ‘El Despertar’ means ‘The Awakening’ in Spanish—very apt, awaken your senses and your soul. All credit goes to Cristobal for the hotel’s charm—he is responsible for the design, decoration and furnishings.
The colour scheme used throughout the hotel—three tones of green paired with gold—are true to the Spanish colonial style. Pastels (colour pigments mixed with white paint) are more authentic than the brighter colours you see in towns such as Jardin.
Inside the guest rooms, plain white rendered walls and exposed ceiling beams give El Despertar a calming, timeless aesthetic.
El Despertar features eight guest rooms (with plans to expand in 2019), all of which open out onto the central atrium. As a result, every space is bright and airy. Each room has its own private adjoining bathroom, and plenty of storage and hanging space for unpacking. Good thing, since you’ll undoubtedly want to spread out and make yourself feel at home.
Room keys have miniature carriel bags for keyrings. (Carriels are traditional leather bags made in workshops in Jerico.) This is just one of the little touches that makes El Despertar feel uniquely local and utterly Jericoian. Look out for other design flourishes unique to Jerico, including half-windows and ceramic floor tiles.
Rooms vary in size from doubles to family suites, sleeping up to four people comfortably. Our twin room came complete with an indoor hammock strung from the rafters—what a treat!
We had a chance to peek inside most of the other rooms—all are spacious and beautifully decorated with stained-glass doors, recessed lights, tasteful artwork, and either ceramic or polished wood floors. I especially like the crochet bed covers.
Bathrooms are also very tasteful, with ceramic floors, painted vessel sinks, and brass fittings. There’s a generous amount of room to move around (this was by far the biggest bathroom of any boutique hotel in Colombia we stayed at). Products (including body wash and shampoo) are provided.
The rear of the house opens up into a patio area, complete with an open-air Jacuzzi. We were too busy exploring Jerico to try the tub—but we hear it’s especially lovely at sunset. You get a stunning view of Jerico’s green hills and red rooftops from the balcony.
The patio leads to a large undercover common area, where guests can sit and enjoy tea or coffee. This is also where breakfast is served each morning.
Guests can choose from a traditional Antioquian breakfast (eggs served with corn arepa and cheese—my personal favourite), a continental breakfast, or yogurt and fruit. Everything is made fresh to order.
Tours & activities
El Despertar can organise a range of activities in and outside of Jerico, including hiking to the local viewpoint, Los Nubes (‘The Clouds’), with Cristobal as guide. Cristobal knows lots of other business owners in Jerico and can help guests coordinate almost any activity, including city tours with local guide Jamie, coffee farm tours to nearby La Nohelia, paragliding at Ecoland, and much more.
Bookings & info
El Despertar Hotel
Cra. 6 #8-29
+57 312 3261134 | email@example.com
Double rooms start from 60 USD/night including breakfast. Make a direct booking inquiry here. If you’re travelling on a weekday, ask about taking advantage of El Despertar’s mid-week backpacker deal (50,000 COP per person per night, 2 night minimum).
Over to you! Have you ever stayed at El Despertar? What’s your favourite boutique hotel in Colombia? Please let me know in the comments!
Transparency: We were guests of El Despertar Hotel for 2 nights during our trip to Jerico in November 2018. As always, all opinions and recommendations are my own.