Ask a concierge: Bogota

Tips for business travel to Colombia’s high-altitude capital.

Grand Hyatt Bogota concierge Geraldin Gordillo Cardozo guides visitors on the best things to see, do and eat in this metropolis in the mountains. Here she offers advice for business travelers.

What’s the most important thing for business travelers to pack?

An electrical adapter, cellphone charger and enough cash to get by if shops and restaurants don’t take credit cards. The temperature in Bogota can change 20 degrees in a day, with highs of 28°C (82°F), so pack accordingly. Pack an umbrella, and carry it with you. Rain comes without warning.

What are your top restaurant recommendations for a business lunch or dinner?

Our city’s gastronomical variety suits all tastes. Visit Casa Vieja or La Puerta Falsa for local cuisine and cultural legacy. In Bogota’s upscale G Zone district, El Cielo offers modern aesthetics and meals and Criterion by Rausch lives up to its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Colombia. Our hotel’s Ushin is a great place to meet clients for an Asian-inspired meal, signature cocktails and an amazing view.

What’s something that surprises visitors about your city?

The pace of change. Bogota is so much more advanced than it was just 10 years ago. We have a dynamic business center, a young and diverse population and beautiful outdoor spaces. The differences even surprise locals like me.

If business travelers only have a short time for leisure, what must they see in Bogota?

The Museo del Oro’s large collection of pre-colonial jewelry helps visitors understand Colombia’s ancient culture. On Plaza de Bolívar you’ll see the president’s home, the congressional building and Catedral Primada, a cultural landmark.

If you have a few hours, hike or ride up Cerro de Monserrate for views of the city. You can dine at one of many traditional restaurants at the top. If you can spare a day, visit La Mina de Sal de Zipaquirá, a former salt mine that encloses a church built entirely from salt. You can get there by car or train in a few hours.

What’s the best option for outdoor exercise?

Parque Simon Bolivar near the city center covers nearly 1,000 acres. Hiking and biking trails lead you through wooded areas and around a lake. In addition, Bogota is crisscrossed by bike paths, so rent a bike and get going.​

Concierge Geraldin Gordillo Cardozo’s top tips for getting business right in Bogota:

  1. A firm handshake with direct eye contact is the customary form of greeting. Men should wait for women to extend a hand first. Friends and relatives will often greet each other with a kiss and a hug. Greetings are lengthy with inquiries about health, travel and acquaintances. Quick greetings are considered disrespectful.
  2. Be flexible about time. A business lunch hour may last several hours. An invitation to dinner at 6 p.m. may mean you eat the meal at 9. Being late for a social occasion isn’t regarded as a sign of disrespect. All of your business meetings, social events and daily transactions will take longer than you expect.
  3. Bogota is a city of traffic jams. Expect any journey to take at least an hour, and plan meetings accordingly.

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