Pasto is an Andean city of about 400,000 in southern Colombia. One of its nicknames is the Surprise City. For me, one of the biggest surprises was to find such a gorgeous, cutting-edge hotel as the V1501.

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Industrial look of the hotel with metal ceiling beams

The first thing visitors notice is the enormous bright beaded tapestry that hangs behind the reception desk, with its indigenous meets modern geometric designs. Blue, red and green basket chairs provide a fun place for guests to hang out in the lobby. An enormous green living wall keeps the air fresh.

Related: The páramo ecosystem in Colombia’s Chingaza National Park

A bright-colored backsplash at the hotel's reception area

Visitors always ask about the hotel’s name. It comes from the geological code given to Galeras, the local — and, yes, active — volcano. In fact, it’s one of South America’s most active volcanoes. The million-year-old volcano last erupted in 2014.

A woman standing beside a branch and leaves inside the hotel

The owners are very proud of Colombian culture, especially that of the department of Nariño, where Pasto is situated. “The idea is based on the culture of the past,” said Juanita Chaves, part of the family that runs the hotel. What’s more, her cousin Ana Maria Chaves designed the hotel. Felipe Gomez, a Pasto local, was the architect.

Individual plates on a wall that together make the Colombian spectacled bear

In a seating area on the second floor, a whole wall is covered with colored plates. It’s only when you step back that you see they form the face of the Colombian spectacled bear, which is listed as threatened. In the busy upstairs café, young people also socialize under the neon outlines of huge fish. “We got inspired by the nature from our region,” Ana Maria Chaves explains.

An eating area and bar with a neon fish as lighting on the ceiling

The hotel then reuses rainwater from its gardens and has a local focus. Additionally, almost all the workers are from the area, and the hotel’s brightly colored lampshades are made by a local artisan.

A quilt-like tile pattern on the floor of the eating area

Meanwhile, guestrooms use neutral whites, grays and wood tones set off with bright art pieces and yellow ceilings. There’s also judicious use of wallpaper commemorating top local sites reminiscent of vintage travel posters. Rugs in the same pattern as the beaded lobby tapestry make the bright geometric shapes a recurring theme throughout the hotel.

Hotel V1501 just opened last December. It’s one of a few new, vibrant and creative businesses I got to visit in Pasto that show a lively and youthful direction for a traditional Andean city.

+ V1501 Hotel

Images via Teresa Bergen