Published on January 13th, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
Convent Life: Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa, Cartagena Colombia
Soon after arriving in Colombia, I checked into a nunnery. Of course, it hadn’t actually served its original role in a number of years. I was invited to stay as a guest at the Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa during Cartagena’s fourth annual International Music Festival, and I must say it’s quite an impressive place. Set in a former convent built in the 17th century, this interesting architectural gem has been luxuriously transformed into one of the highest-profile (and most expensive) hotels within the walls of Cartagena’s Centro Histórico (the historic city center).
Beautifully detailed, the property features conservative decor, including an altar-like reception desk and peaceful lobby courtyard.
The hotel has a gym, spa services, meeting space and even a chapel that’s used for private events (including some of the concerts I’ve been attending as part of the festival). More impressive is the rooftop terrace, which offers excellent views of the city, and also features what is a rather large pool and sundeck, considering the small scale of most buildings in this neighborhood.
The restaurant, which operates on the rooftop deck and on the lobby level, serves a variety of international cuisine, and is best enjoyed after dark, when tables are placed on the square in front of the hotel and mealtime is enhanced by candlelight, live music, and the clip-clopping of horse-drawn carriages.
My standard guestroom is not large by any means (I assume nuns didn’t require luxurious expanses of personal space), but it’s outfitted with an extremely comfortable bed with an amazingly fluffy comforter (which I appreciate especially on the first night, when I set the powerful air conditioner way too high). The blackout shades do a good job of blocking out the sun, as well as the view of the Caribbean Sea.
The attractive bathroom has a stand-up shower with an interesting floor treatment made of super-smooth pebbles (which feels great below my feet every morning).
The downside: The extra amenities are extremely high-priced. In-room wireless Internet access costs an astonishing $25 a day, and a 1-liter bottle of water in the room will set you back more than $7. Considering that standard rooms go for more than $200 (and closer to $400 during the high season), this property isn’t for the weak-walleted. But for a dash of exquisite luxury in the historic heart of Cartagena, it’s quite a worthwhile splurge.
Tel. (57 5) 6649494