34 hours in Bogota

We decided to take a long stopover in Bogota for our first visit to Colombia on our way to Peru. Given the small amount of time we had, and not wanting to overdo it at the start of our long vacation, we did just enough to see part of the city and left knowing we’d like to come back and spend more time.

Chapinero District, Bogota. Copyright Caleb Trotter.

Our first afternoon was spent wandering the Chapinero district near our hotel. The highlights were browsing a small street market before closing, and catching the sun’s fading rays on the beautiful Iglesia Nuestra Senora de Lourdes.

Sunset on Iglesia Nuestra Senora de Lourdes, Bogota. Copyright Caleb Trotter.

The next morning we caught an Uber to the cobblestoned La Candelaria district. This area is home to many museums, churches, and government buildings. We enjoyed wandering around before heading back to leave for the airport. You could of course spend a few days in this area if you want to check out the museums or take the gondola up to Monserrate. We of course didn’t have time for all of that.

Colegio Mayor de San Bartolome, Bogota. Copyright Caleb Trotter.

The highlight of our time in Bogota was probably dinner. We had the pleasure of experiencing Leo. Ranked 46th on the World’s 50-Best list for 2021, dinner did not disappoint. We went with the 8-course option, with one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic beverage pairings. The food and alcoholic pairing was excellent, and we particularly enjoyed the explanations of each course, along with the personal attention and interactions (mostly in English) with our server Jimmy Romero.

Logistics: We flew Avianca from LAX direct to Bogota. Using Life Miles we were able to fly business class for a very reasonable rate. The best part about this flight was getting to use the Star Alliance lounge in the LAX international Bradley terminal. The space is huge–it even has a sizeable outdoor patio–and the buffet and bar were well stocked. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a ramen bar. I definitely recommend spending time there before your flight.

As for the flight itself, I hate to be someone who complains about flying up front, but even though we had lie-flat seats for the redeye flight, they were quite dated and very much in need of a refresher. The person across the aisle from me actually had to have her seat fixed, as it initially wanted to do no more than provide a little bit of a footrest. This seems all the more ridiculous considering the scaled back operations of Avianca. They’re no longer flying south of Colombia, so you’d think they’d manage to have updated planes flying a fairly prominent route. But what do I know? Also, for service, I skipped the meal because of the late hour, but they only offered water, juice, and coffee to drink. I understand that service has been cut back due to COVID as a COVID-related excuse, but we did not experience such cutbacks on our other South American flights this trip. In sum, we got there without incident, but were disappointed with the Avianca product.

On arrival, we only had a short wait at passport control since we submitted our information electronically before we left. As of October 1, 2021, there were no COVID requirements for entry.

In Bogota we stopped for a morning nap and shower at the Hyatt Place near the airport. The hotel seemed fairly new, with a decent breakfast buffet. Prior to our arrival, the hotel helped me arrange an driver for an airport pickup. Everything went off without a hitch. If you’re planning on staying near the airport, I can recommend this hotel. For our one night in the city, we stayed at the J.W. Marriott in the Chapinero district. Upon a slightly early arrival, and after a lengthy wait, we were told that they were having trouble finding our reservation. In the meantime, we retreated to the lobby restaurant for lunch, which was quite good and affordable. After lunch we checked back with the front desk, and without explanation were presented with our room key. All in all, this hotel is a good redemption option for Bonvoy points, and is located in a walkable area near plenty of bars and restaurants.

Overall, if was a nice, if brief, stop in Bogota. We look forward to returning in the future when we can spend more time there and venture to other parts of the country.