Cartagena lays claim to the best hotels in Colombia, including some fabulous converted mansions, replete with shady courtyards and gifted bar staff. Casa San Agustin is definitely our port of call when we hit the city.
Location, location: Built by the Spanish in 1533, Cartagena is a Caribbean port city of swaying hips, bustling squares and faded colonial grandeur. Its narrow cobbled streets are studded with churches, monasteries and colourful 18th Century townhouses groaning with bougainvillea. Horse drawn carriages rattle through the streets, men huddle around chessboards in parks and palenqueras in flowing skirts pedal fruit from bowls balanced on their heads.
Top Pick: Echoing Cartagena’s fresh style and colourful Caribbean sensibility, Casa San Agustin is cool and refined. Located within Cartagena’s walled Old Town, its art and architecture evoke the city’s rich history as 17th Century Spanish stronghold.
Get there quick: There are direct flights to Bogota with Avianca from London. It is then an easy 90-minute flight north to Cartagena. Those coming from Miami or Madrid can fly direct, without passing through the Colombian Capital. The hotel is a short twenty minute drive from the airport.
Best for: Culture vultures and honeymooners.
Room service: The hotel offers thirty breezy guest rooms and six spacious suites with palm-shaded patios. Be sure to go for the Suites with private pools!
Family fun: Under-11s stay free and babysitting can be arranged with 12 hours notice.
Join up: Rooms can be configured into two or three bedroom suites, ideal for friends and family travelling together.
Cocktail hour: Head to the courtyard for a lively evening in. Resident mixologists put a twist on South American classics: don’t miss the Humo Dulce, a fiery concoction of tequila, mango and sriracha!
Eat your heart out: Colombia’s mouth-watering seafood and exotic ingredients inspire the contemporary coastal cuisine of Alma, the hotel’s exquisite restaurant. Head straight for the courtyard and enjoy freshly caught mariscos in a Colombian-style bouillabaisse!
Out and about: Casa San Agustin is within walking distance of many of the city’s historic sites, such as the Monastery of La Popa and the Plaza Bolivar, formerly the Palacio de la Inquiscion. The best way to experience Cartagena is to wander leisurely, savouring architectural details, street life and local snacks along the way.
Best time to visit: Cartagena is a year round destination with a hot and humid tropical climate. Rain can fall at any time, however the ‘drier’ season is typically the best time to visit (December to March).