Lima is a city that I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with. I love ceviche (I mean, who doesn’t love this delicious fish dish?) and I love the idea of Lima, with its ocean side location and impressive of world-class restaurants and cool bars.
But every time I’ve visited, I’ve struggled with one big thing: where to stay in Lima. I’ve booked numerous hostels over the years and each and every one has let me down.
I’ve discovered dingy bedrooms and dirty bathrooms, noisy corridors stopping a good night’s sleep or poor WiFi meaning you can’t even get close to checking your emails.
Each time I’ve come away frustrated.
So it was with interest that I took up the offer from Selina, a new hostel in the heart of Miraflores, to spend a couple of nights in their design hostel, Selina Lima.
Selina hostels: slick design and a digital nomad haven
I’d never heard of Selina before, but they’re a chain of slick, urban hostels that have built an impressive base of hostels across South and Central America.
Selina Miraflores in Lima and Selina Saphi in Cusco are their first in Peru, before expanding to another, Selina Plaza de Armas in Cusco, and then Selina Huaraz near Parque Nacional Huascarán to complete the set.
But what makes them stand out?
It only takes for you to stand outside one of their properties to see it. Here at Selina Lima, the northern wall of the tower block in which the hostel is located is covered with a vivid mural by Zelva1, a Peruvian street artist.
It explores Peruvian identity, depicting an indigenous woman surrounded by water, an Andean condor, Andean textile patterns and vegetation from the Amazon jungle.
It’s a bold introduction to what Selina stands for: youthful, modern design.
Inside, the theme of vibrant, eye-catching art that tugs on the hipster heartstrings of any millennial continues, with another mural painted by iconic Barranco street artist Jade Rivera lining the inside wall of the café, while the reception desk operates out of a salvaged VW Beatle.
Everything shows an eye to detail and a love of good design matched with high-quality facilities.
And that’s the thing. Selina markets itself as a hostel but one that achieves the impossible: it matches the energetic vibe of a hostel with the bedrooms and facilities of a slick, trendy hotel.
It matches the needs of those looking to kick back and relax in the Peruvian capital, thanks to its excellent location at the heart of Miraflores and competitive private and dorm room prices.
During my stay, I was in one of their standard double rooms and it was huge, with a queen-sized bed, a seating area and private bathroom.
Each room in the hostel has a mural painted by a Limeño artist; mine was by artist Gino Pezzia, who goes by the name Ginope, combining stencils and photography to create an image of a school boy dressed in an Andean hat.
The bedrooms also feature beautiful design touches – again, emphasising Selina’s place in that grey area between hostel and hotel.
Mine had a coat rack made from salvaged wooden shoe moulds, plus wicker furniture and hand-woven Andean textile pillow covers.
Sleep-wise, my bed was extremely comfortable, with a fan dispensing with the need to open the window onto the Limeño night time and the noise of the bars that lie in the streets surrounding the city.
As it was a fan not an A/C system, it itself was somewhat noisy so I did opt to have the window open – and never had an issue with outside noise from the street below, possibly because I was on the sixth floor.
For those not looking forward to navigating a tower block with all of their luggage, two lifts that cover all floors mean you can give the stairs a miss.
Bedrooms come in a whole host of sizes and prices, ranging from privates with shared bathrooms to “Unique”, the most luxurious option with a balcony.
They also have bunk beds in dorm rooms that are spacious and have lockers and shared bathrooms, as well as fully-furnished apartments with kitchens and some with balconies.
The latter are located in a second tower, just two doors down from the main hostel and have access to the facilities in the main building.
Selina Lima’s facilities
Selina prides itself on being an all-encompassing destination for travellers. Indeed, it has enough facilities that you might not see a need to even leave its four walls (although I certainly recommend you do as Lima is a fantastic city).
On the ground floor, their café serves a great breakfast and other meals throughout the day, with breakfast starting from around S/12 ($3.5 USD). I really enjoyed the avocado on toast (yup, #hipster) but it was excellent food and there were often people in here who weren’t actually staying in the hostel but just enjoyed eating here.
It’s a popular place in the morning as breakfast is not included in the room price if you’re staying at Selina.
On the other side of the reception area, a large bar has squishy furniture and a table football and hosts the occasional live music events as well as many of Selina’s nightly activities.
These range from board games to wine nights – although I’ll admit I never saw the evenings getting particularly busy; given the hostel is at the heart of Miraflores, it’s easy enough to head out for dinner and drinks close by.
Upstairs on the first floor, a big kitchen, again with another iconic Jade Rivera piece of artwork filling the back wall, was the main hub of activity early most evenings and a great place for meeting other travellers.
Despite its size, with only one two-ring hob and a smattering of saucepans, plates and cutlery, it didn’t have the widest selection of facilities given the capacity of the hostel (which I can guess is somewhere around 300 in the main tower block alone).
However, with the hostel’s proximity to numerous inexpensive and delicious restaurants, this isn’t a huge problem for those happy to spend money dining out.
Next door to the kitchen is a small library with cosy modern furniture for chilling out with a good book and – you’ve guessed it – decorated with a number of other mural.
Across the corridor is the cinema room, with a bank of sofas so big you can comfortable stretch completely out on them. Unsurprisingly, it always seemed to have someone in it, regardless of the time of day.
There’s also a yoga deck that is available to guests and non-guests alike for paid classes.
The front desk is manned 24/7 and while they don’t give out maps of Miraflores with recommendations (something I wish they did as this always helps answer those nitty-gritty questions about supermarkets, laundry services and ATMs), desk staff were happy to offer suggestions of places to go for dinner.
That said, I wish they had been more forthcoming with this information, particularly as there are bars literally down the side of the hostel that I didn’t realise were there!
Selina’s location: the best area to stay in Lima
At two blocks southwest of Parque Miraflores, right in the heart of the Miraflores neighbourhood, it’s located in one of the best areas to stay in Lima.
The city has long held a negative reputation for crime and safety and while – in my experience having travelled here a number of times over the past four years – this has got significantly better, Miraflores remains one of the most recommendable districts in which to stay on a trip to Lima. (Read our guide to the 10 safest South America countries for more information on staying safe in South America.
It’s also, alongside neighbouring Barranco, the epicentre of bars, restaurants and cultural events, so bedding down here makes sense if you want to enjoy the city at night.
Handily, there’s a supermarket, Vivanda right on the corner of the street, although Metro, two block northwest, is cheaper (it has a second floor that you can’t see from the street full of fruit, veg and prepared meals).
Local tip: head to a supermarket for freshly-prepared ceviche from their fish counter (although aim to do this for lunch as they’ve sold out by evening).
The atmosphere and vibe at Selina Lima
I’ll be honest: I’m not sure I’ve stayed somewhere that is more unashamedly hipster than Selina Lima.
That’s certainly not a criticism. It’s more a statement of fact and probably a huge draw for a lot of travellers looking to swap the standard, disappointing backpacker digs for something a little bit more swish without blowing the travel budget.
Because of this, during my stay I saw mostly younger travellers in their 20s or 30s, with plenty of solo travellers, couples and a handful of small groups.
I met a couple in their 50s in the lift who were not impressed by the fact that Selina was a hostel, not a hotel, so it’s essential to come here aware that this is a mixture of the two and that the vibe is youthful, with the spaces built to encourage interaction between guests – like any good hostel should.
Those looking for a more detached hotel experience will find the facilities here superb too, although you may want to book one of the private apartments that are located in a separate building two doors up the street as it’s quieter there.
I did notice during my stay that there was noise on the corridor at night from other guests returning late back from clubbing.
It definitely wasn’t the most social hostel I’ve stayed in, perhaps because of the sheer number of different breakout spaces and also the fact that I was staying in a private room rather than a dorm.
But the fact that there is plenty of space to meet or get away from other travellers, depending on your mood, is definitely a plus.
A digital nomad’s dream: the co-working space
Before staying at Selina Lima, I wasn’t aware of the company’s digital nomad credentials. They’ve been lauded in the media as the “hotel for digital nomads”, nurturing a brand identity as not only a hostel-cum-hotel but also as a more immersive lifestyle experience with a focus on helping travellers to connect with each other and the world at large.
Their co-working space in Lima is situated on the 12th floor of their second tower (the location of their apartments) and has linger-worthy views across the Limeño skyline and front row seats for the sunset that you can watch directly from your desk in their open-plan office area.
The WiFi here and in the hostel itself was excellent and a series of smaller, glass-fronted meeting rooms and tiny, one-person booths help create an environment conducive to work. Prices start from $14 USD per day.
Prices for staying at Selina Lima
The cheapest private accommodation, with a queen-sized bed and shared bathroom starts at $61 USD, while those with private bathrooms cost from $80 USD, with the top-end “Unique” rooms with private balconies costing from $118 USD per night.
Dormitories start at $12 USD per person in a 12-person dorm. Find up-to-date prices for these types of rooms on Booking.com.
One-bedroom apartments with kitchens begin at $95 USD. Find up-to-date prices for the apartments on Booking.com.
Note that room prices don’t include breakfast.
My stay at Selina Lima was covered by the hostel, however my opinions – as ever – are my own.
Wednesday 19th of August 2020
“Modern” “trendy” “avocado toast” “poor WiFi which means you can’t check emails” if all you want to do is duplicate your American life and have a watered-down experience everywhere you go, don’t call it traveling.
Saturday 21st of November 2020
Interestingly enough I'm not an American (which actually means North and South America, but let's not split hairs).