Published on January 19th, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
Six Great New Boutique Hotels in Cartagena, Colombia
The Centro Histórico (Historic Center) in Cartagena, Colombia, has for years been a prime place for hoteliers to introduce ever-more-luxurious small hotels set in landmark-status, Colonial-era buildings. Larger properties like the Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa and the Sofitel Santa Clara (set in a former convent and monastery, respectively) may be the grande dames of the hotel scene in the city center, but during my recent visit I found six noteworthy newer properties that offer plenty of amenities amid unique, very historic settings.
Hotel Cartagena de Indias
Opened in late 2009 in an impressively repurposed former office building, the Hotel Cartagena de Indias is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and is owned by one of the co-owners of Avianca, the largest airline in Colombia. The hotel offers a good central location and sleek style, with large works of photography and other contemporary decorative elements. The rooftop pool deck offers excellent views. About $310 and up.
www.hotelcartagenadeindias.com or www.slh.com
In 2009, Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi turned her stylish gaze from clothing to hospitality, and the result is gorgeous. Rough brick arches frame cool white walls at this seven-room hotel, which has a small swimming pool, a mostly open-air restaurant, and a spa, all set around a small courtyard. Upstairs, the rooms feature unique touches like gold dusted walls and comforters strewn with Tcherassi’s designer label. Custom-designed bathrobes, Egyptian cottons and amenities designed by the owner round out the offerings. About $300 and up.
Of all the newer properties I toured, this 11-room hotel feels the most like an authentic mansion; kind of like staying at the home of your extremely wealthy old friend. The large guest rooms are laden with antiques and have old-fashioned (but indulgent) marble bathrooms, and public areas include a decent-size swimming pool, spa, restaurant and a wine cellar that doubles as a private dining room. About $290 and up, including a 10-minute welcome massage and breakfast.
The first time I walked past this eye-catching place, I thought it was a high-end retail store, thanks to the giant chandelier dangling over a bright orange throw rug in the minimalist lobby area. The best value in the trendy category, Delirio opened in 2008 with plenty of amenities, a comparably reasonable price point, and design-conscious rooms in clean white, expertly accented with large photographic murals and orange throw rugs. Rooms have free Wifi, minibars and rainforest showers. The rooftop terrace is a pleasant place to relax, and the hotel has its own fleet of eco-cycles — ecologically friendly, Segway-style vehicles for exploring the city. About $142.50 and up.
This beautiful den of perfectionist luxury exudes a contemporary style that enhances rather than threatens the traditional architecture, with dramatic lighting, dark wood furniture and flooring. A member of the Preferred Boutique consortium, Anandá opened in 2009 and sports a large rooftop terrace with Bali day beds and a large Jacuzzi, and on the ground floor there is a swimming pool, bar and restaurant. Accommodations include free Wifi and breakfast.
One of the best new choices for cheaper accommodations with decent amenities, Hotel L’Petit was opened in late 2009 by the man who owns Studio 54, one of the city’s most popular gay bars, as well as Bar L’Petit, the new bar on the hotel’s first floor. Primarily targeted at gay travelers, it is nevertheless straight-friendly (“we just had a straight couple from Venezuela stay with us for a week, and they had a wonderful time,” says the receptionist). Rooms have basic décor but are clean, newly furnished and have flat-screen plasma TVs, free wireless Internet access and private baths. Plus, you’ll get a complimentary welcome cocktail at the bar downstairs. About $110 and up.
No Website yet; tel. +57-5-6643643.