Cartagena is one of the most vibrant colonial cities in South America and the undisputed queen of Colombia’s northern coast. With exquisite fine dining, hip al fresco cafes and buzzing nightlife, its stunning walled city is an enticing mix of history, romance and old-world luxury. To help plan your trip, here’s our pick of the best boutique hotels in the neighborhood – bookable with Culture Trip.
The Anandá Hotel Boutique by Cosmos sits inside a romantic 16th-century colonial mansion and has a divine swimming pool, a rooftop hot tub and a treatment room. Suites have original features such as low wood-beamed ceilings, wooden floors and Juliet balconies overlooking the interior garden. Relax on a poolside daybed before walking to the Getsemaní district for dinner at the delicious Celele Restaurant.
This buzzy spot captures the hearts of the twentysomething crowd with its fancy yet fun design, rooftop bar and positive party attitude. Tropical designs by local artists in the 11 airy and comfy suites set a new style benchmark. Sink a cocktail next to the splash pool before dinner at Interno in the old town – a restaurant inside the women’s San Diego prison. Afterward, head back to Townhouse for drinks at Members Only, the in-house speakeasy.
With a spa, a spacious rooftop swimming pool and four restaurants, the Bastión Luxury Hotel ticks plenty of boxes for a stylish and relaxing stay. Neutral hues set the tone for well-appointed suites; after a restful night, borrow a hotel bike to pedal around the old town and beyond. Sip a cocktail on the roof terrace as the sun sets before dining at the excellent in-house El Gobernador Restaurant.
Retaining plenty of its 17th-century colonial architectural charm, Casa del Coliseo is a privileged stone’s throw from the must-visit Plaza de Bolívar. With 12 well-illuminated and tastefully decorated suites, it makes for an intimate stay. Beat the midday heat in the rooftop swimming pool while enjoying the cityscape. Tea in the common area is also a lovely way to cool down.
With just seven chic suites in a colonial mansion, the Amarla Boutique Hotel ensures privacy, tranquility and personalized service. Colombian wildlife and botanicals form the design palette, while communal spaces are home to an abundance of tropical foliage. Enjoy the à la carte breakfast and fantastic coffee in the open-air gallery before climbing the winding staircase to the rooftop for a swim, cooling breezes and marvelous vistas of the old city.
This colonial accommodation is well placed in the old town, just a block from Plaza del Reloj and award-winning cocktail bar Alquímico. Well-appointed rooms at Hotel Boutique Las Carretas include lovely little balconies, while standard category suites also offer charming city views. Cool off with a dip in the rooftop splash pool before sunset cocktails overlooking the ocean at nearby Café del Mar.
Hotel Quadrifolio sits inside a beautifully preserved 17th-century colonial mansion in the heart of Cartagena’s walled city. Each bright, stylishly designed room features high wood-beamed ceilings, huge arched windows with wood shutters and lush garden views, along with handmade furniture, local artwork and fresh flowers. However, the pièce de résistance is the rooftop terrace. Here, you can soak in a hydromassage tub or relax on a sun lounger as you take in views of the city and the Caribbean Sea.
Just a few steps from the Palace of the Inquisition, the Gold Museum and Bolívar Park, the Sophia Hotel has one of the best locations in Cartagena’s old city. This great positioning also means some epic views from the ultra-cool terrace, with its stunning swimming pool, hip chill-out area and poolside bar. The modern rooms come with rain showers, wicker lounging chairs and huge panoramic windows.
Designed by fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi, the Nacar Hotel Cartagena is one of the most striking boutique hotels in the city. Think high ceilings, rich wood floors, beautiful vertical gardens made from more than 3,000 local plants and exposed red and white brick throughout. Each room has a unique flair, but expect freestanding soaking tubs, large walk-in rainfall showers and glitzy, luxury bedding. If this weren’t enough, the hotel also has an outdoor pool, two restaurants and a rooftop terrace.
Hotel Casa La Fe’s quaint rooms are centered around a beautiful, jungle-like courtyard, where a fresh à la carte breakfast and premium Colombian coffee are served each morning. Highlights include a rooftop plunge pool, a lookout point with panoramic views of the old town, classically designed rooms featuring tiled floors and handcrafted furniture, and free-to-use bikes to explore the city.
Considered by many to be the top boutique hotel in Cartagena, Casa San Agustín is as luxurious as it gets. Resembling a lavish palace more than a hotel, common spaces – including a solarium, a colonial-style library and several meeting rooms – are filled with crystal chandeliers, beautiful tapestry hanging from the walls and lush green plants. The rooms are no different, with marble-floored bathrooms, huge walk-in rain showers, four-poster canopy beds in some spaces and iPads. The chic swimming pool (partly covered by Cartagena’s former aqueduct), on-site spa and atmospheric Alma Restaurant are spectacular too.
Inside a 17th-century former mansion just around the corner from Plaza de Bolívar, the adults-only Alfiz Hotel Boutique combines history and colonial charm with modern touches, such as a jacuzzi sundeck, an open-air swimming pool and concierge service. Its eight themed rooms, with antique artefacts, paintings and luxurious furnishings, tell the story of Cartagena’s fascinating history, from being ransacked by pirates and ruled by Spanish conquistadors to the rise of independence and the birth of the Republic.
Visited by the likes of John Lennon and Robert de Niro, El Marqués has captivated the attention of the rich and famous since the 1970s. Retaining 16th-century colonial features, such as thick stone archways and walls, wood-beamed ceilings and beautiful wooden floors, the atmospheric common spaces here look as they would have more than 400 years ago. You can relax in the beautiful courtyard swimming pool before having dinner at Bohemia, the on-site restaurant serving Colombian-European fusion dishes.
In the ultra-cool, artsy Getsemaní neighborhood, part of Cartagena’s outer walled city, the 10-room Casa Lola Deluxe Gallery offers colonial luxury but with a much-welcomed dose of quirky character. From the outside, it’s a pretty yet traditional colonial house, but inside, it oozes modern, experimental and bold design. Highlights include a multilevel roof terrace with pools that wind through the hotel, lush tropical gardens and stunning views across the city. Prices, which include an American breakfast, are very reasonable too.
Sorrel Moseley-Williams contributed additional reporting to this article.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.