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Hotel Review: Cannúa

To review Cannúa feels different from other hotels this Guide has reviewed because it’s not just a hotel. It really is a complete experience. You live there. Maybe only for a few days, hopefully for a week, but I really came to feel a sense of belonging and familiarity I don’t usually have at a hotel. The vegetable gardens, the dining room, the balconies looking out over the valley, the personal time you spend with staff learning about cocoa or sustainable architecture or hiking in the mountains. And those bungalows floating on the mountainside! 

If you’re thinking about staying at Cannúa, for a romantic getaway or a change of scenery as a digital nomad, may the details below help your adventure decisions.

There are affiliate links in this article for booking a stay at Cannúa because I would definitely book a stay there again.

Contents

Where is this Rivendell and how do you get there?

I typically stick the location at the end of a hotel review, but Cannúa’s location is integral to the experience of staying there. I also have a recommendation for how you get there if you’re coming from Medellin.

Cannúa is located around 9km outside of the town of Maranilla. It’s just under an hour drive from Medellin’s airport, José María Córdova International.

The ecolodge sits on a forested mountainside that the team behind Cannúa has rewilded. From its perch, the buildings look out over the Rio Negro valley, a countryside of green rolling hills and dells and rustic farm houses.

From the mountainside, looking out over the roof of Cannúa’s main building.

Looking up from some of the kitchen gardens in front of the main building. The rooms on the left with the balconies are the “Superior” and “Deluxe” rooms. The main entrance and the dining room are the glassed-in areas to the right.

A leafy, shaded path through the gardens to one of the private cabañas.

Location & Hours

Location: Cl. 39c ## 73 – 29, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín Google Maps Link

Getting there from Medellin: Cannúa can arrange transportation from the airport or the city of Medellin. I opted for the hotel to arrange a driver from Sabaneta, and I’m glad I did. Getting to the lodge requires navigating some tricky roads. A random Uber driver might not have had the vehicle or the patience for being surprised with that drive.

What's it mean to build a hotel using permaculture design principles?

Before you do any of the other experiences at Cannúa, as soon as you can after arriving, I strongly recommend taking the permaculture tour. You’ll find it so useful and fascinating to understand how this experience was designed, from the bricks made on site out of the soil under your feet, to the layout of the buildings around how water naturally flows down the mountain, to the arrangement of the gardens and how plants are paired together, and to how the hotel fits into the community, recognizing that you can’t have ecological sustainability without building human connection and community sustainability.

One anecdote I loved from the session was learning about how the team behind the hotel spent a year observing the mountain, getting started on rewilding it, and building connections in the community, before they even started designing it. The design had to fit what the mountain and the community could sustain.

The ethics and principles of permaculture that have informed the design, construction, and operation of the hotel.

A path through some of the gardens at Cannúa reflects permaculture principles in action. On the edge of the garden path, you can see a row of purple lettuce. That row is specifically for the bugs and rabbits to eat. The gardens employ natural insect and animal management techniques. That ensures the restaurant is amazing and the local ecosystem is thriving, too.

Can you work as a digital nomad at Cannúa?

Big YES on this one. You’ll have no problem taking video calls or livestreaming at Cannúa. I did both, from my private cabaña and from the balconies surrounding the dining room. You can see a speedtest I did there from my cabaña. Solid double-digit upload and download.

There was a storm one day that knocked out internet for a few hours, right when I had some client calls to do. But the front desk had a second internet connection, just for situations like this, so they invited me down to the main building to use their connection and that worked perfectly.

As a backup, I always have my portable WIFI with me, which was also getting a solid signal at the hotel. If you need a portable WIFI, check out the DuoTurbo here: Review: GlocalMe DuoTurbo Portable WIFI 

Internet speed test from Cannua Ecolodge. 48 mb/s download and 28 mb/s upload

Even when I wasn’t on calls, working from the restaurant balconies after breakfast was the most idyllic office you can image. I’d order a French press full of fresh local coffee and camp out writing until lunchtime.

What do you do for fun there?

You can use Cannúa as a base from which to cover some of Antioquia’s most famous attractions, like Peñol Rock and the colorful zocalos of Guatapé. There’s also rum, coffee, and chocolate tastings, the permaculture tour I mentioned earlier, a visit to Maranilla’s famous guitar workshops, a Loma Linda flower farm tour with lunch, a ceramics workshop tour in the town of El Carmen, a river tubing and turtle rescue experience, and there’s a set of hikes for wild orchid and bird lovers. In general, Colombia is one of the best places in the world for birding, with the most bird species in the world. Cannúa has logged 90 different bird species on the site so far. 

You can check out the most recent set of experiences on Cannúa’s website here: cannua.com/around-cannua/

I did the chocolate tasting, the permaculture lesson, and a short version of the hike up the pre-Hispanic trail. With all of the experiences, it was just me and the staff expert on that particular topic. It was like hanging out with a friend and geeking out on chocolate and nature and sustainable design. There was a level of personality and personalization in the experiences that I’ve rarely experienced at a hotel.

Hiking up the pre-Hispanic trail on the mountain behind Cannúa will take you through dense forest full of endemic species of plants and mushrooms, set to a soundtrack of tropical bird songs. 

A variety of chocolate and pure cacao preparations, arranged for the tasting exam at the end of Cannúa’s cacao education class. (Your Guide did pass the exam, but even failing a chocolate tasting exam is a delicious success.)

The Piedra Peñol, a massive ball of granite towering over the lakes near Guatapé. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations around Medellin and it’s a short drive (or longish hike) from Cannúa. Climbing the rock and then taking a walking tour around the painted streets of Guatapé is a classic Antioquia day-trip.

Meals at Cannúa

It’s the best food I ate in Colombia. I ate every meal during my stay in the restaurant. I tried nearly everything on the menu. The restaurant deserves its own detailed post overflowing in edible flower petals from the garden, which you can now find here: How is the food at Cannúa?

But your breakfast is included in your room rate, so I’ll just cover that here, because the breakfast is pretty damn pretty and spectacular.

Don't sleep through breakfast

Even if you stay at Cannúa for a week, there’s enough variation in the breakfast that you won’t get bored of it. It’s also the kind of breakfast I’d happily eat every day. I miss waking up to the warm bread balls. I’d jump into a pit full of them and eat my way out.

The standard breakfast comes with a bowl of fresh bread along with a slate tray of just the right amount of homemade butters, cheeses, and jams. There’s coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. And a plate of seasonal local fruit sprinkled with sugared lime zest (the way you’ll want all of your fruit after this). Then there’s a main breakfast dish with eggs–scrambled with cheese, baked in a pomodoro sauce, as an omelet… however you’d like them. There might be other variations depending on what’s happening in the kitchen. One day we had whole wheat pancakes filled strawberries, accompanied by bowls of pure melted chocolate. When my bowl ran low on the first pancake, they brought me a second bowl of chocolate.

And of course, everything is sprinkled with edible flowers from the Cannúa’s gardens. I hear the pansies are good for thinking. 

It tastes even better than it looks, so leave time to savor breakfast. Grab a table on the balcony. Have more coffee. Say yes to the second bowl of chocolate. Watch the sun rise on the valley. 

The private cabañas at Cannúa

I stayed in one of the private cabañas. They’re like spaceships floating through cloud forest, hovering over the valley. 

The walk back each night after dinner, the walk down each morning to breakfast, through the gardens and the trees, was an opportunity to walk slowly and mindfully. The permaculture principles come through in how they arranged the bungalows on the property and how they designed the room interiors.

I was doing a lot of writing and calls with clients while I was using the cabaña. On some days, that was five or six hours of video calls and livestreams. The desk, bed, and bathroom setup were comfortable for that amount of time in the room, especially with the wall of green forest in front of the desk. There was enough space to do a workout or to meditate. 

The cabaña costs around $137 USD per night, and that includes the incredible breakfast.

The rooms attached to the main hotel building start at around $92 USD per night, including breakfast. If you’re not spending lots of time in the room like I was, those rooms are an excellent deal.

Click here to check out Cannúa room options and availability.

The cabañas are made with the same sustainable and eco-friendly materials and finishes as all of the buildings around the hotel. It’s been my most commented-on Zoom background of the year. And when I wasn’t on a call, it was so peaceful to stand on the balcony and enjoy tea. That was also the perfect place to setup my meditation bench.

If you’re looking for a sustainably designed, special experience resting in nature, Cannúa really defines what an amazing hospitality experience can be. I now measure other hotels by this standard of design, environmental impact, and service. I hope you get the chance to visit on your adventures.

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