There are several chain party hostels in South America that are popular for their parties: Kokopelli, Pariwana, and then there’s Loki, the best and the most dangerous hostel you’ll ever sleep in—IF you ever get to sleep! Hidden behind the approachable smiles of the staff and beautiful hammocks is a trap waiting for backpackers to dive in. Never will you ever be in a hostel where you’re enjoying and at the same time telling yourself, “I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE.” But before you know it, you’ve stayed there for more than three nights, to a week, and then another week, and then too long you’ve lost track of your tab. (I would know, it happened to me.)
While party hostels are not for everyone, quite frankly I enjoyed my time in Loki, especially the one in Cusco. Sure, the one in Mancora has a swimming pool and they have great weather all year long. But besides surfing, you don’t really get to go outside the hostel. The backpackers are stuck there where parties start at 9 in the evening and end at 1AM. By 2 in the morning, the whole town is basically dead except for the sound of the Pacific waves coming from the beach.
In Loki Cusco, I had fun both being inside and outside the hostel. Having a bar AND a restaurant in the hostel is very convenient especially in a town elevated at 11,200ft. For days that you don’t want to leave the hostel because you dread the high altitude sickness that too much walking is gonna cause you, there is always a back-up plan that is Loki restaurant. Oftentimes you don’t want to leave because backpackers are already having fun playing giant beer pong that you feel like there’s just no reason to do so.
But besides the great vibe the hostel gives, Cusco itself has a lot to offer besides being the jump-off point of Machu Picchu. The size of the city is perfect; it’s not going to give you a headache like the capital city, Lima, nor will it bore you to death. Although Cusco gets an overwhelming number of tourists every year, it’s not all artesenale shops and travel agencies and expensive Peruvian restaurants. If you go a little farther away from the city center, you’ll find public markets and cheap eateries (or what we call karenderia) with lunch menu that go as low as 4 soles (1.25USD). And hidden along the tiny cobble streets are Israeli and Hindi restaurants that have all-you-can-eat buffet for 15 soles (5USD). Cusco is also a hit among us backpackers who love people-watching. Most of their second-storey cafes have verandas that overlook clean public parks. From schoolchildren to lost tourists to vendors selling cheap local cigarettes, you will see all kinds of people by the time you finish your coffee.
Like everyone else, I began to develop a love-hate relationship with the hostel, wasting half of the day deciding whether I should stay or not. I once checked out from Loki and then was convinced by my friends to stay so I checked in again on the very same day. I ended up staying there for two weeks and a half. Too long (probably). But I’m not sorry.
I’ve had some of my best party nights in Loki Cusco. I have to say, the barkeepers are pretty good at making everyone drunk! They even bring out patriotism in backpackers through the Blood Bomb World Cup. Blood Bomb is made with Red Bull, vodka and grenadine—a shitty, yet effective shot for anyone who wants to be drunk and awake at the same time. Whenever Blood Bomb Friday comes, backpackers go a little crazy on and buy dozens of Blood Bombs during Happy Hour (that actually feels more like Happy DAY because it starts at 3PM and runs for hours) when they’re able to buy two shots for the price of one—all to raise the ranking of their beloved country. In the three Loki’s that I’ve stayed—Mancora, Lima, and Cusco—I was consistently the first Filipina to take the shot for my homeland. Putting the Philippines on the Blood Bomb map is the only source of pride I have left after staying at Loki. (We’re still at the bottom of the list, but at least we’re ON the list now.) By around 2AM, Loki closes their bar and all the backpackers go for an exodus to the next closest awesome club in town, which in Cusco, is nowhere else but Temple Bar.
They say when you stay at Loki, there are 5 lies you’re doomed to make:
1. I’m not going out tonight.
2. Ok, I’m going out but I’m not drinking.
3. Ok, I’m drinking but I’m going home early.
4. Ok, I’m getting smashed but I’m leaving tomorrow.
5. I LOVE YOU?!
You know you’ve stayed too long in Loki when (1) you’ve made all five lies (as for me, I’ve made 4 out of 5 lies because when I said “I love you,” it was the truth #ouch); and (2) you own two Loki shirts by the end of your stay: one for checking in at three of their several branches and one for somehow winning a drinking game. By the time I got my second shirt, I knew it was time to leave.