Selina CoLiving Review: A Deal or A Flop?

Selina is a boutique hostel chain that’s reaping the benefits of timing. Before the pandemic, this hostel company, which originated in Panama, launched onsite cowork spaces at many of their accommodations.

Although they received millions of dollars in funding prior to COVID-19, as someone who worked in Selina coworking spaces before the pandemic, I can vouch for just how empty they were.

Now, the tables have turned.

In 2020, Selina launched their colive program—a long-term accommodation and cowork space package geared towards the influx of remote workers.

During that time, it also raised $50 million in funding to continue its expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean…and that’s not to mention the growth they’re already having in the United States, Europe, and Isreal.

Whether you’re a digital nomad veteran or are just starting your location-independent lifestyle, this review will help you determine if a Selina CoLiving package is the right fit for you.

What’s in it for You, Laura?

Nothing.

Selina had no idea that I would be writing a review of their CoLive package after my 3-month stay with them. I didn’t receive any discounts or perks for writing this post.

To give you some background, I originally split my CoLive package between Playa del Carmen and Isla Mujeres in Mexico (6 weeks in each destination). I changed my reservation during my stay, and I’ll talk about that experience later in this post.

Since there are so many Selina hostels and package types, during my 3-month CoLive stay I chatted with loads of other “CoLivers” who shed light on their experience in Mexico and elsewhere.

Therefore, the information in this post is a combination of my personal experience and the experience of these other people. Hopefully, it will help give you a more well-rounded view of what to expect if you end up booking a Selina CoLiving package.

The cowork space in Puerto Escondido which is part of the Selina coliving package.
Cowork space in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

How Selina CoLive Packages Work

Selina’s CoLive packages are pretty straight forward, with only a few exceptions to their pricing.

With your CoLive booking, you’ll receive the following perks:

  • Accommodation (you have four room categories to choose from)
  • Cowork space
  • Free wellness activities each day
  • Discounts at Selina’s restaurant
  • Free welcome drink
  • Ability to live at 3 different Selinas each month within the same category you book
  • Access to all of the hostel’s amenities (such as pools, libraries, movie rooms, activities centers, communal kitchen, etc.)
  • Unbeatable location for the destination you’re in

Room Categories

We’ll get into how the CoLive destinations and prices are broken down next, but first, it’s important to understand the room categories you have to choose from.

Selina offers four room categories—community room, micro room, standard room, and suite. Let’s take a closer look at what each includes.

Community Room

This is a fancy name for a dorm room. In my case, I had a 4-bedroom dorm for my entire stay. However, Selina placed other CoLive guests in dorms with more beds. I’ll elaborate on this further in the section on consistency.

4-bed dorm at Selina Isla Mujeres.
4-bed dorm room in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

Micro Room

These are private rooms with a shared bathroom. The rooms are typically just large enough to set your suitcase down, although the size varies among different Selina properties.

Standard Room

A more spacious version of a micro room with a private en-suite restroom.

Suite

Beautifully designed, luxurious-feeling rooms. You’ll have an en-suite bathroom, of course, and will receive Selina’s luxury amenities and toiletries.

Of these room categories, one is a steal, one is a fair enough option, and the other two are just flat-out expensive.

Hang tight, because I’ll be covering which is which shortly.

Destination Categories

At the time this article was published, Selina offers the following three categories for their CoLiving packages. I’ll list them from least expensive to most expensive.

  • Latin America
  • Europe & Israel
  • United States

Within the CoLive category you book, you can stay at 3 different Selinas each month, and at the length of your choice within that month.

For example, let’s say you choose a CoLive package in Latin America. You could, for example, opt to spend 8 days in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, 12 days in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, and the remaining 10 days in Paraty, Brazil.

Or, you could spend a night or two in one destination and spread out the rest of your stay among the other two destinations.

You can also choose to take a more laid-back approach like I did; I booked a three-month Selina CoLiving package but divided up that time among only two destinations in Mexico.

Selina CoLive Pricing

Now that you have an idea about how the CoLiving packages work, you must be wondering: how much do they cost?

Below is a chart showing Selina’s CoLive package prices (updated in April 2021).

Room TypeLatin AmericaEurope & IsraelUnited States
Community Room$324$468$648
Micro Room$648$936$1,296
Standard Room$1,080$1,560$2,160
Suite$1,800$3,240$3,600

Note: These prices don’t include taxes. I’ll explain more about the tax situation (read: issue) soon.

When the Prices Differ

Within any given destination group, there are a handful of Selina hostels that come at an extra price.

You can still stay at these more expensive destinations. However, Selina will offer you a custom quote for the number of nights you’ll be staying there.

The Selinas that are more expensive than the standard CoLive package include:

  • Mancora (Peru)
  • Tulum (Mexico)
  • Nosara (Costa Rica)
  • Camden (England)
  • Brighton (England)
  • Santa Teresa North (Costa Rica)
  • Santa Teresa south (Costa Rica)

Which Selina Package Is The Best Deal?

When it comes to Selina’s CoLiving packages, the “Community Room” is a steal (especially if they book you in a 4-bed dorm).

In almost all cases, there’s no way you’d be able to book a place with equivalent amenities and perks as the Community Room package.

You might be able to get a similar Community Room price by booking a shared apartment with a private room directly in the destination you’re visiting. However, you’d be missing out on the networking opportunities of the cowork space, not to mention free yoga and other wellness classes.

An okay CoLive deal is the Micro Room package. In fact, I wouldn’t call this a deal as much as I would a fair price in exchange for what you get.

It’s true—most (not all) Mirco Rooms at Selina are super small. And not having an en-suite bathroom comes with obvious inconveniences.

A Micro room like this is one of the Selina coliving package options.
Micro Room in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

However, overall the Micro Rooms are priced fairly for their destinations, and what they lack with in-room amenities they more than make up for with the benefits you receive from Selina’s cowork and social activities.

When it comes to the Standard and Suite Selina CoLiving packages, the only reasons you should book these is if money isn’t an issue, you want a comfy private space, and you’re seeking the networking and social life that Selina offers.

Selina knows that their Standard and Suite CoLive packages are expensive, and they don’t care—there’s a market for them, so don’t expect to see those prices drop anytime soon.

Travel Tip: Two people can share the Mirco, Standard, and Suite rooms. If you’re traveling with a partner or friend, you can split the room cost. If the second person also needs to use the cowork space, they can pay an extra fee.

The Consistency Conundrum

Although I only stayed at two Selinas with my CoLive package, I’ve stayed at a lot of Selinas. Furthermore, I chatted with dozens of other coliving guests who shed light on their experience at Selinas across the globe.

So, what’s the consensus?

Consistency is a huge issue at Selina.

My CoLive package didn’t have the same terms as other CoLiving guests I met. In my case, it worked in my favor—my Community Room had four beds instead of six or more. And there weren’t any price discrepancies, except for taxes, which I’ll get to next.

I can’t help but think that a combination of how far in advance you book your stay and the availability at any given Selina at that time influences just how many beds your room will have if you book a Community Room CoLive package.

Another consistency issue is cowork availability.

It’s a frustrating problem to encounter since one of the biggest perks of booking a Selina CoLiving package is access to a comfortable working space.

No doubt, the pandemic has produced more digital nomad customers than Selina ever expected to have at a time. However, based on my experience and talking with others, they haven’t done anything to cap their CoLive bookings.

That means, in theory, that a Selina hostel may have 100% digital nomads in their rooms all wanting to use the cowork space which, as a rough estimate, has the capacity to hold no more than 10% of their guests at any given time.

Yikes!

The cowork in Isla Mujeres, which is part of the Selina colive package.
Cowork space on an early Sunday morning in Isla Mujeres, Mexcio. Yes, that’s the ocean in the background!

Although I haven’t personally experienced this, I heard from some CoLive guests who said that Selina warned them at the time of their booking that a spot in the cowork isn’t guaranteed. Um…excuse me?

Depending on the CoLive package you book, you’re getting a good deal. However, you’re still paying more with this package than you would by booking a room without a package attached to it (assuming you book in advance and not at the last minute when Selina raises their prices).

I wasn’t warned by Selina at the time of my booking about cowork space issues, but I experienced it in full force during my CoLive stay on Isla Mujeres.

It was a stressful situation, having to arrive by 7:00am in order to get a seat. And because of availability issues, the staff decided to make a rule that you can’t leave your spot for more than 30 minutes or else they’ll clear out your desk and put everything into lost and found.

Ouch…

I delve more into the nuances of this situation in my Selina Isla Mujeres Review in case you’re interested in learning more about what cowork issues you could encounter.

And now, let’s look at a final CoLive consistency issue—taxes.

Taxes

As you’re getting ready to book your CoLive package, you’ll receive a massive block of text with Selina’s terms and conditions.

My advice to you?

Read it!

The price that Selina shows on its website doesn’t include taxes. But here’s the kicker: the price they confirm to you via email and charge to your credit card also doesn’t include taxes.

If you’re confused, know that you’re not alone. Nearly every time I passed by Selina’s front desk at check-in time I could hear their poor staff having to explain to flustered guests about how the terms and conditions state you have to pay taxes in person.

You may think this is frustrating enough, but it doesn’t end there.

Selina doesn’t confirm how much tax you’ll be required to pay.

Since I read the terms and conditions, I asked the woman who booked my reservation how much tax I’d have to pay in person. She told me it would be anywhere from $1 – $2. That’s per night, by the way, which she didn’t specify.

Apparently, this is a local tax that you have to pay at “some” Selinas.

I’ve yet to encounter a Selina where I don’t have to pay tax in person. That said, I’ve mostly stayed in Mexico, so if you’ve had a different experience elsewhere, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Changing Your Selina CoLive Reservation

Rooftop bar in Lisbon, Portugal.
Rooftop bar at Selina in Lisbon, Portugal.

Since negativity weighs on the soul, let’s jump to a more positive note.

An advantage of the Selina CoLive package is that you’re allowed to alter your reservation once per month.

I ended up taking advantage of this when I decided to change my reservation from Isla Mujeres back to Playa del Carmen after spending one too many 5:00 am wake-up calls to get a seat in the cowork space. It’s true—not all Selinas have quite as bad of a cowork availability issue, and Playa del Carmen is (mostly) one of them.

I was pleased by how easy it was to change my Selina CoLive package.

If you find yourself wanting to extend your stay or shorten it to travel to a different destination within your CoLiving package, I recommend doing so through Selina’s app. You can do so by hitting the “chat” button in the bottom right-hand corner.

They say that they usually reply in under one hour. I found it to be closer to two hours, which I was pleased about given my late evening request.

Is Booking a Selina CoLive Package Worth It?

After going off on a rant about taxes and cowork availability, you might be wondering: is it worth it to book a CoLiving package at Selina?

In my opinion, it’s worth it if you book a Community room package, and it might be worth it if you book a Micro room package.

Otherwise, if you want a private space, I recommend using that money to stay at an apartment (or even a house, for some of those prices) near Selina. That way, you can still travel to Selina each day and pay separately for the cowork space to do your networking.

I hope this Selina CoLiving review has been useful as you’re working on deciding whether or not a CoLive package is the right fit for you.

If you have questions about Selina CoLiving, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help—I’m sure you’re not the only one, so other readers will benefit from it too!

Alternatively, if you have experience with a Selina CoLive package, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

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