Is Via Via a hostel or is it a cafe? This place seems to try to appeal to both clienteles and in many ways is successful, offering low-cost, reasonable lodging and an excellent ambiance in the bar area.
At five minutes' walk from the cathedral, Via Via is well located and surrounded by an abundance of restaurants. This being said, Leon is easily negotiated by foot -- finding the perfect spot in the city shouldn't be your main priority. The building itself is to the back of the cafe. Although the cafe/bar itself is pretty lively, this sound does not filter through into the sleeping areas, meaning that a good night's sleep will not be disrupted by noise.
Rooms and Bathrooms
Rooms are a mixture of private and six-bed dorms, all with en suite showers and toilets. Singles (as opposed to bunk beds) are crammed in to the rooms, and the lack of space between the beds creates a cramped environment when filled with large backpacks. Security is also a question mark. The lockers are adequate for a day bag, but large backpacks are left out at your own risk. This wouldn't be such an issue if there were locks on the doors to the dorms, or the hostel wasn't built in a cafe within which movement is neither restricted nor monitored. The bathrooms are pretty standard. Water pressure in the showers is good, but as with most of Nicaragua, the shower is cold.
It isn't really clear where the cafe stops and the hostel begins -- this can make it a challenge to meet people. Whereas in other hostels you feel comfortable sitting down with an unfamiliar group, you run the risk of being the odd guy who randomly joins a couple at their table during their wedding anniversary! There is no communal area as such and we did not see any cooking facilities during our time there.
Via Via seems to have an identity crisis and, although spotlessly clean and set in a beautiful space, it is more like a cafe with rooms available than a hostel. The core things a traveler requires appear somewhat lacking. This is no more evident than when you want information from "reception," which is basically the bar. With locals barking orders for beers to the bar staff/reception staff, it is difficult to gain any adequate information, and staff are probably overburdened with drinks orders/bringing out food/checking people in/giving tourist information. Set against a context of excellent competition from other hostels in the city, we would recommend you come for the party, but spend the night elsewhere.
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
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