Best Boutique Hotels in Cartagena

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Marvelously restored 17th-century Colombian mansions and crisp, modern hotels are among our favorite boutique properties in Cartagena, Colombia -- a town where boutique hotels are as common as bougainvillea-wrapped balconies, open-air cafes, and narrow cobblestone streets. See all of our picks for the top boutique hotels in Cartagena.

  1. Hotel Quadrifolio is a beautifully restored boutique hotel that feels like an upscale residence. (The mustard yellow exterior blends in perfectly with its brightly colored neighbors, so it’s easy to mistake the hotel for a private home.) The atmosphere around Hotel Quadrifolio is much like that of a private residence, too. It’s quiet and relaxed, and occasionally filled with hearty laughter and boisterous conversations. A delicious free breakfast is served at a communal table each morning, which allows the small number of guests to get to know one another and share travel tips (there are only eight rooms, each one individually decorated with high-tech extras like pre-loaded iPods, Smart TVs with Netflix, and free Wi-Fi). Quadrifolio is one of few boutique hotels in Cartagena’s walled city that allows children of any age.  

  2. In a town with boutique hotels around every corner, the four-pearl Hotel Casa San Agustin outshines most of its competitors. The hotel’s 30 rooms and richly decorated communal spaces evoke the building’s 17th-century grandeur, and there is locally made artisanal furniture and custom artwork throughout. A stunning interior courtyard with a mosaic tile pool and a gorgeous rooftop with city views are real highlights, but the property’s best amenity is its acclaimed on-site restaurant, Alma. The fine-dining restaurant and its upscale bar are widely considered some of Cartagena’s best, and reservations are nearly impossible to come by -- which is perhaps why its so-so breakfast buffet is a real letdown, even though it’s free. 

  3. Bastion Luxury Hotel is situated on one of those brightly colored, bougainvillea-lined streets that evokes the very essence of Cartagena’s historic walled city. Call us romantic, but there’s something about standing in the Bastion’s imposing entryway and gazing out into the bustling street that feels magical. Inside, a narrow passageway leads through wrought-iron gates to a stunning open-air courtyard. With 51 rooms, Bastion is one of the larger upscale hotels in the walled city, and has top-notch features such as a rooftop pool, an acclaimed on-site restaurant, a small spa, and a fitness center. Rooms feature gorgeous colonial-inspired decor with luxe amenities like Smart TVs, iPod docks, and Nespresso machines. 

  4. An upscale boutique hotel that feels like a private residence, Casa del Coliseo is a gorgeous 17th-century mansion completely restored with 21st-century luxuries. The entire hotel was decorated by highly regarded Colombian designer, Juan Carlos Arcila-Duque, and living and dining rooms are especially spectacular. Vaulted wood-beam ceilings and imposing chandeliers are lavishly complemented by exposed brick walls, wingback chairs, and hanging black and white photos of the old city. Massive French doors lead to gorgeous balconies that overlook Cartagena’s bustling streets. Aesthetically, Casa del Coliseo is near perfect, but structurally, the Old World quarters may cause problems for some guests. The entire building is composed of winding narrow hallways and lots of stairs, which may be an issue for people with limited mobility, as there aren’t any elevators or ground-floor rooms. Breakfast and Wi-Fi are both free.

  5. Walking through the gigantic entry doors of Casa del Arzobispado -- which has a superb location, arguably the best, in the center of Cartagena’s walled city -- feels like taking a step back in time. Massive wrought-iron gates, cobblestone floors, and gilded mirrors with tiny cherubs line the entry hall -- which looks more like the entrance to a 17th-century monastery than a boutique hotel. Upon arrival, guests are greeted at the gates by staff members, who lead them through the entryway to the gorgeous interior courtyard. The courtyard is one of our favorites in Cartagena. Ivy-covered archways and the second-story balcony surround the gorgeous mosaic tile pool, which feels like a tranquil oasis in a bustling city like Cartagena. Rooms here are not as upscale or richly appointed as some competitors’ rooms, but each is individually decorated, and feature a mix of antique and modern fixtures. Vaulted wood-beam ceilings give all 10 rooms a dramatic flair, and emphasize their spaciousness, while gilded headboards and ornately carved furniture reflect the hotel’s 17th-century grandeur.

  6. Walking into the lobby at the trendy, 36-room San Lazaro Art Lifestyle Hotel feels like a breath of fresh air. In a city with a lot of colonial architecture and decor, it’s refreshing to see some midcentury modern vibes. Fresh modern decor fills the bright, open spaces of this upper-middle-range property, where local artwork hangs in the hallways and glass walls offer stunning vistas of Castillo San Felipe across the street. Top-notch amenities include an on-site restaurant and a sleek rooftop pool, as well as an auditorium that serves as a multipurpose room for local functions. The one glaring issue here is the hotel’s location in a developing area outside the walled city. The historic walled city is about a 20-minute walk from the hotel, but we’d recommend taking a taxi at night. 

  7. Zalmedina Hotel is a budget-friendly boutique in Cartagena’s lively Bocagrande neighborhood. Its 50 stylish rooms are equipped with amenities like flat-screen TVs and mini-fridges, but bathrooms are tiny, and some rooms are subject to lots of street noise at night. Zalmedina’s location — one block from the beach and within walking distance of tons of shops, bars, and restaurants — attracts all types of travelers, from families with children, to backpackers, to couples. There are two on-site conference rooms, and the hotel draws many business travelers. With perks like free breakfast and Wi-Fi, many guests can overlook the hotel’s minor wear and tear. 

  8. The mid-range Hotel Cabrero Mar, located in a residential neighborhood outside the walled city, is a stylish 14-room property offering great bang for the buck. Rooms, many of which have balconies, feature modern decor and include such amenities as smart TVs, well-stocked minibars, and sleek bathrooms with rainfall walk-in showers. The hotel’s two apartments have full kitchens and separate living spaces -- a good choice for families, groups, and guests on extended stays. Though it doesn’t have a pool, Cabrero Mar has an eighth-floor terrace with a large hot tub and awesome ocean views. Freebies include daily breakfast and fast Wi-Fi, along with 24-hour reception. The hotel is located one block from the beach and is a five-minute drive from both the airport and the historic walled city. There aren’t many shops or restaurants within walking distance, and the neighborhood may feel too residential for some.

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