Whether you’re looking to catch some z’s before a 3:00 am wake-up call for the Colca Canyon hike or you’ll be calling Arequipa home for a while, Selina Arequipa is obviously a contender among the accommodation options you’re considering.
I spent a month at Selina Arequipa and will help you understand the ins and outs of it based on my experience so that you can decide if this hostel is the right fit for you.
As full disclosure, Arequipa Selina didn’t give me anything for writing this review. In fact, they don’t even know about this blog or that I intended to write this post.
Accessibility Note: If you’re a wheelchair user, check out our guide on Accessibility in Arequipa.
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My Selina Background
To offer you some context for the basis of my opinions, I’m a Selina junkie. From Portugal to Mexico, I’ve stayed at many Selinas, drawn to them because of the remote work crowd they bring in due to their coworking spaces.
Selina Fun Facts
Selina is a new but rapidly developing boutique hostel chain. It began in Panama, focusing its initial development in Latin America. Selina has since made great strides in expanding to other parts of the globe, helped along by the $60 million they received in investments in 2020 during the heart of the pandemic.
In fact, whereas many hostels and hotels suffered from a lack of travelers, Selina’s model was made for the pandemic without them even knowing it at the time. With so many people now able to work remotely and with the world opening back up, Selina is becoming a recognized name for travelers seeking a coliving experience (living and working in the same place).
What Does Google Think?
Google rates Selina as a 3-star hotel. That’s the Selina dream right there, given that the company’s goal is to create a boutique hostel experience.
And to be honest, I think a 3-star label for Selina Arequipa is accurate.
Yes, there are dorm rooms at Arequipa (I stayed in one myself). But Selina also offers several beautiful private room categories.
They also have more amenities than most 3-star hotels, and their property has an Andean resort-like feel. It’s a great base for exploring the many things to do in Arequipa.
Selina Arequipa’s Location
Selina Arequipa sits towards the top of a gently inclining hill, about a 10-minute walk from the Plaza de Armas.
Although there were moments when I wished it were closer to the plaza, overall I loved that it’s removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
Furthermore, Selina is a straight shot to Arequipa’s infamous Yanahuara viewpoint, helping you get there quicker (less than 30 minutes) compared to if you were walking there from the plaza.
When I was thinking about writing this Selina Arequipa review, describing the hotel setup was one of the first things that struck me as needing to be addressed.
The hostel has two entrances with two parallel roads separating them.
Jerusalén Street is the main road. It’s on a cobblestone, one-way street that connects Selina with downtown Arequipa. You’ll need to ring the doorbell at the door and a Selina staff member will unlock the door.
When you step inside, you’ll be greeted by the outdoor workout center to your left, a sidewalk leading to the kitchen to your right, and stairs straight ahead.
Listen carefully, because people get understandably confused at this part since Selina doesn’t have clear signs pointing to the lobby.
You’ll need to walk straight ahead and go up those stairs. You’ll then encounter a hallway that leads out into a narrow brick street (the other street that connects with Selina). Walk through the hallway and across the street.
If you arrive during the day, the door to the second part of Selina will be open. Pass through the door, and the lobby will be to your immediate left.
The narrow brick street is the other road that leads to Selina Arequipa. They were remodeling the street during my stay, so was unclear if it’s always a pedestrian street or if people staying there will be able to take a taxi to the entrance.
In either case, it’s not a main street, but it does help you avoid the awkward entrance at Jerusalén Street, especially if you have wheeled suitcases since you’ll need to drag them up the stairs.
The two-entrance street set-up aside, Selina has beautiful outdoor communal areas. The lobby connects to the main part of the hostel, which is complete with a pool, treehouse, bar, and tons of space for sunbathing or reading on a bench.
Many of the rooms border this outdoor communal area. But some dorms and private rooms sit across the brick street in what was a former Spanish-style home. I happened to stay across the street and enjoyed the quieter atmosphere.
Rooms at Selina Arequipa
One of my favorite parts about Selina Arequipa is that it offers a wide range of room types, accommodating many different budgets. Below are the options you’ll have to choose from.
Selina Arequipa offers the following types of dorm rooms:
- 4 beds
- 6 beds
- 8 beds
- 10 beds
- 12 beds
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Selina Arequipa’s dorm set-up is among the best you’ve ever had. Each bed comes with a privacy curtain, a personal lamp, outlets both by your pillow and in the locker.
Speaking of lockers, there’s a wooden box that sits at the far end of your bed. I ended up enjoying the location since I could have quick access to my laptop and personal belongings without getting out of bed, but it can feel a little clunky, especially if you’re used to shoving your entire backpack into a larger locker.
The dorm rooms don’t come with towels. But if you didn’t bring your own, you can rent one for a non-refundable 10 soles at the front desk.
Another fairly unique aspect of Selina’s dorms compared to many hotels is that you’ll have a bathroom and shower right in your room.
If you don’t love the thought of sharing a room with strangers, Selina offers the following private rooms. All these rooms come with towels included.
The Micro: Selina compares their Micro rooms to a ship or train cabin. But compared to Selina Micro rooms that I’ve seen in other destinations, their Arequipa rooms are more spacious (relatively speaking). You’ll have a small luggage rack and a bathroom near (but not inside) your room that you’ll share with up to four people.
The Standard: A double bed for two people, a private bathroom, and a desk.
The Twins: Same as The Standard except you’ll have two beds.
Standard Triple: Perfect for three traveling friends. You’ll have one bunk bed and one single twin-size bed. It’s equipped with an en-suite bathroom.
Family Room: This private four-person room comes with either one bunk bed and two twin-size beds or one bunk bed and one queen-size bed. You get to choose the style, subject to availability. You’ll have a private bathroom.
The Suite: A spacious and beautifully designed room with a private bathroom, closet, and Selina’s premium in-room amenities. It can hold up to two people.
The Loft: Perfect for the long-term or luxury traveler. The Loft can hold up to two guests and is equipped with Selina’s luxury amenities, a sofa, and closet. You can also host events there for up to 15 people.
A Note on Selina Pricing
Selina operates on a flexible pricing schedule. The following factors determine the price of your room:
- How far in advance you book. The farther ahead you book, the cheaper your room will cost.
- The number of nights you stay. The longer you stay, the cheaper the price per night will be.
- Refundable vs. non-refundable rate. The non-refundable rate is cheaper than the refundable rate.
- Whether you book with or without breakfast.
- Whether they’re running any promotions. Promotions happen often, so keep your eye out for them.
- Whether you’re traveling during a holiday or special event.
At the end of the day, you’re more likely to get a good deal on your room (and encounter availability) if you aim to make your reservation as soon as you know your travel dates. It’s pretty amazing to speak with fellow travelers and learn just how much they paid for their last-minute stay!
Here’s what you’ll get to enjoy by staying at Selina Arequipa:
- Swimming pool
- Free WiFi
- Free daily social activities
- Cowork (for an extra fee)
- Wellness area
- Large kitchen
- Movie room
- Lots of outdoor common areas
It wouldn’t be right to write this Arequipa Selina review without mentioning its restaurant. Selina offers a massive menu ranging from traditional Arequipan dishes to vegan and international food.
The setting is also beautiful—choose to eat at the bar or at one of the many tables and bean bags that are woven around the pool and yard.
If you eat a veggie-based diet and can pull yourself away from Selina’s delicious food, check out my five favorite vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Arequipa. Spending a month there gave me a lot of time to taste-test the options.
Selina Arequipa Cowork
Selina’s cowork is the reason why I chose to stay with them compared to Arequipa’s other accommodation options. It didn’t disappoint in terms of the cowork itself—the facility is tastefully decorated and has a combination of private glass rooms and a long table for traditional cowork sharing.
It also has a phone booth and a small kitchen complete with a fridge and microwave.
The WiFi worked beautifully during my one-month stay. That said, my laptop often chose to connect to Selina’s “Guest” WiFi network instead of the “Cowork” network. Eventually, I stopped trying to switch it back to the “Cowork” option since “Guest” worked just fine.
As has been the case with every Selina cowork I’ve ever been to, the phone booth and private rooms aren’t very soundproof. So, if you need a quiet environment to work, you may have trouble doing so, depending on who’s in the cowork on any given day.
Speaking of who’s there, many days I was alone for much or all of the day. However, there would be waves when many people would be there, almost making it too close quarters given the cowork’s small size.
What I found most disappointing, which isn’t a reflection of Selina, is that the people at the cowork came and went quickly. It was an unexpected difference from my experience in other countries, such as Mexico, where remote workers would plop there for weeks or months on end.
Needless to say, I didn’t find it to be a great place for networking. However, Selina Arequipa’s cowork facility is beautiful, and aside from some loud music radiating in from the bar in the afternoons, it was an enjoyable experience.
Important: The cowork space isn’t included with your room price unless you purchase a colive package. You’ll need to book and pay for this separately.
Are you thinking about purchasing a colive package? If so, make sure to check out my Selina Coliving Review. I’ll show you when Selina’s coliving is a deal and when it’ll drain your money.
When the staff at Selina first assigned me to my room in the smaller section of the hostel across the street, I was skeptical about safety. The door to the side street remained open during the day, meaning that anyone could walk into the hostel since there wasn’t a staff member monitoring it.
However, they kept that door locked at night. Arequipa as a whole is also a very safe city, so I felt comfortable walking around outside of the hostel both day and night.
If you’re in a dorm room, I recommend keeping your belongings locked at all times when you’re not with them. The dorm room doors don’t lock automatically, so you’re at the mercy of your roommates keeping it locked (which, in my experience, didn’t happen often).
I never had an issue with, nor heard of, an issue with theft. This is just merely standard safety precautions that are smart to follow at any hostel, anywhere in the world.
Selina Arequipa gets an A+ from me for its cleanliness.
They cleaned my dorm room from top to bottom daily and changed my sheets whenever I requested it. All common areas were also extremely clean. I was especially impressed by how clean they kept the kitchen.
Selina Arequipa Review: The Good
- Friendly staff
- Beautiful, resort-like facility
- Within walking distance to tourist attractions
- Dorm room beds have a privacy curtain
- Lots of food selection at the restaurant
- Frequent, unique events for socializing
- Quiet environment if you stay accross the brick street in the smaller portion of the hostel
Selina Arequipa Review: The Not So Good
- No female-only dorm option
- Lack of bathrooms (especially those with showers) for anyone who doesn’t have a bathroom in their dorm
- It can get very loud at night for rooms near the pool
Is Staying at Selina Arequipa Worth It?
Overall, I was very happy with my stay at Selina Arequipa. The staff was so friendly and helpful, the hostel was within walking distance to all of the main attractions in downtown, and I was impressed by how spacious my dorm room was.
Whether you end up staying at Selina Arequipa after reading this review or decide to stay elsewhere, the next step is to plan what to do once you’re there. If you’re thinking about taking a tour, check out my Ruta del Sillar tour review for details on what to expect.
P.S.- Do you love animals? Fundación HOPE is an animal shelter in Arequipa that cares for over 100 dogs and cats. Discover how to volunteer or donate here.