Published on March 14th, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
VIDEO TOUR: Cartagena Hotels & Dining
The center of Cartagena, Colombia, is more than just a place to explore historic sites. It’s also home to stylish small hotels set in landmark buildings, as well as a variety of tempting cuisine. Check out my latest video for some great visual samples of what’s in store for you here.
During my recent visit, I stayed at the Charleston Santa Teresa, a beautiful former convent built in the 17th century. It still maintains its historic feel, but also has modern touches like a rooftop pool that offers inspiring views of the city.
Another long-time favorite is the Sofitel Santa Clara, set in a former monastery. And I also checked out some excellent newer properties that offer plenty of amenities amid unique, very historic settings.
In 2009, Colombian designer Silvia Tcherassi put her name on a stylish new boutique hotel. It’s also home to a trendy open-air restaurant that’s open to the public, and has a wonderful small pool. Other noteworthy small properties include Hotel Cartagena de Indias, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which has an excellent rooftop deck, Casa Pestagua, which exudes Old World charm; and Delirio, a trendy but less expensive alternative.
When it comes time to refuel, there are plenty of excellent choices. Plaza de Armas is a cozy restaurant and wine bar that specializes in local variations on Italian cuisine and seafood, and hosts live Cuban music on weekends. The front area is a comfy lounge where wine is the name of the game, but we took a table in the back, where brick arches soar overhead. I savored a plate of large prawns exquisitely wrapped with bacon and sprinkled with chopped olives, and I also enjoyed the Garrapiñado, a chilled, sugary nougat with glazed caramel.
The small, contemporary restaurant called Mila serves a variety of spirits, as well as mouthwatering fruit beverages like frozen grape juice. I loved the carimañolas — fried cassava stuffed with feta cheese — and the desserts are equally as tempting.
You can also sample fresh seafood at Juan del Mar and As de Copas, a casually elegant eatery with a large wine list and several Italian-influenced dishes.
And for a truly Colombian experience, be sure to try a corn-based arepa or a giant hot dog, filled with mozzarella cheese, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, potato sticks and a squirt of pineapple juice.
And don’t feel bad about eating so much — you’ll need plenty of energy to further explore all that Cartagena has to offer.
To see my additional coverage of Cartagena (including detailed hotel and restaurant reviews, coverage of Cartagena’s International Music Festival and even coverage of the torture devices at the Inquisition Museum), check out my earlier articles and videos here on LatinFlyerBlog.com, and also visit LatinFlyerBlog.com. Don’t forget to share your own favorites and recommendations!