Cartagena is a destination that should be on every traveller’s bucket list. Framed by a gorgeous bay, it is one of the Americas most beautiful, well-preserved cities. Situated on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Cartagena brings together the charm of colonial architecture, an electric nightlife, luxuriant landscapes, jaw-dropping beaches, and a melting pot of flavours.
Lying within an impressive 13km of centuries-old colonial stone walls is Cartagena’s Heritage Old Town, which is a maze of cobbled alleys, bougainvillea-covered balconies, and pastel-hued buildings that tower over leafy plazas.
Visitors to Cartagena are sure to be enchanted by its bewitching ambiance and rich history. They will also be wowed by the city’s high standard of hotels, which range from colonial boutiques to soaring seafront resorts. From my many trips to Northern Colombia, I have handpicked my favourite cool and unusual hotels in Cartagena, Colombia (in no particular order)…
1. Sophia Hotel – a cool, Instaworthy and vibrant boutique hotel located on the landmark Aduana Square
Full of enchantment and glamour, this peaceful boutique hotel brings a new luxury concept to the Plaza de la Aduana area. It is housed in an elegant Republican building and finds its magic in the small details.
Art and hospitality are combined beautifully here, and the interior aesthetic is both sophisticated and modern. There is an alluring, award-winning terrace with a swimming pool and sun loungers, where you can take advantage of the bar service in an impressive backdrop of the city.
The 15 rooms each boast their own personality, and are adorned with vibrant colours and smooth textures.
- To book, check prices or availability for Sophia Hotel
2. Amarla Boutique Hotel Cartagena – a serene, unique and beautiful boutique hotel that has been rated one of the best places to stay in Cartagena
I thought Amarla felt more like a family house rather than a hotel. Each of the 7 suites and rooms symbolizes a different native bird, and reflects the beauty of Colombia using original art, ornaments, and furniture created by local artisans.
Set in a gracefully restored colonial home, this chic hotel is conveniently located in the centre of the Old Town, surrounded by narrow streets that are lined with European-style architecture from a bygone era.
When I wasn’t soaking up the tranquillity from the outdoor garden pool, I was strolling around the surrounding streets and visiting the local gems that the staff recommended to me.
- To book, check prices or availability for Amarla Boutique Hotel Cartagena
3. Hotel Casa Lola Deluxe Gallery – a trendy and very Instagrammable property which has been regarded as an artistic gem
Casa Lola showcases true Colombian realism, and each corner contains a unique story. This artistic jewel is set in the beating heart of the old city, in the Getsemaní neighbourhood.
It is made up of two buildings – One is a typical colonial house from the 17th century, and the other is a stunning republican construction from the late 19th century.
The original architecture of both buildings is combined with precious antiques, modern art, and ethnic objects which give them a cosy and elegant feel. My stay here was characterized by exquisite gastronomy, pampering spa sessions, and relaxing moments in the ambient outdoor pool area.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Casa Lola Deluxe Gallery
4. Hotel Boutique Casona del Colegio – a stunning and very hip boutique hotel located in the historic centre of beautiful Cartagena
Inspired by natural beauty and carved by the best craftsmen, Casona del Colegio is a stunning showcase of sustainable design, and is bathed in exquisite works of art.
Set in the historic centre, the hotel captures the immense ecological diversity of Colombia, proudly implementing materials and textures from all over the country. The guestrooms were designed to stimulate the 5 senses through unique design work, fresh aromas, and silky soft fabrics.
The on-site spa is one of the best I have ever experienced in Cartagena, and the wellness rituals on offer are first-class. Next to the pool, there is a vibrant bar where your favourite concoctions can be mixed up, and the whole experience is topped off by the delicious Costa restaurant, which serves up traditional flavours with a modern touch.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Boutique Casona del Colegio
5. Casa La Merced by Mustique – an elegant, chic and stylish upscale hotel that features marbled floors and modern décor with a Caribbean vibe
Casa La Merced is nestled within the fortified quarter of Old Cartagena, surrounded by many of the city’s historic gems. The property evokes a certain mystique through its charming fusion of old and new, where boutique-style furniture and rattan lampshades hang from traditional vaulted ceilings.
I thought the communal spaces were eye-catching and intimate, especially the glorious garden pool, which overlooks the gorgeous coastline.
The rooms are minimalistic by nature, and are accompanied by luxurious marble-clad bathrooms. The plush furnishings and cosy fabrics in the rooms pave the way for a blissful night of requiescence, and you will wake up to a sumptuous homemade breakfast spread.
- To book, check prices or availability for Casa La Merced by Mustique
6. Sofitel Barú Calablanca – a romantic, one-of-a-kind and exclusive Colombian paradise that offers a private beach
This eclectic resort beckons guests to experience the mesmerizing coastal paradise of Barú. Inspiring reconnection and indulgence, this beachfront treasure was designed to seamlessly blend in with the surrounding nature.
Feeling the gentle caressing breezes, soaking up the stunning panoramas, and meandering along the soft white sands provided my partner and I with a truly heart-warming experience here. While celebrating innovation and the French art de vivre, the Sofitel draws inspiration from the local culture and its traditions, with accents of stone and exotic wood paired with a beachfront inspired colour palette.
There are many choices for dining here – My personal favourite was the Casablanca restaurant, where traditional Colombian, Mediterranean, and international dishes are offered as part of an expansive buffet spread.
- To book, check prices or availability for Sofitel Barú Calablanca
7. Hotel Capellán de Getsemaní – a prestigious and high-end hotel housed in a Colonial-era building located in Cartagena’s most dazzling neighborhood
Here we have an enchanting refuge in the heart of the colourful Getsemaní, where every detail invites you to relax in style. The hotel is draped in Spanish colonial and French details, and it is the perfect basecamp for exploring the historic city’s emblematic sights.
You can savour the wealth of Colombian gastronomy in on-site restaurants and bars. The guestrooms are decorated in warm, bright tones, and boast high beamed ceilings, many wooden details, and beautiful chandeliers.
For me, each day here began with a delicious breakfast in the Clero restaurant, and drew to a close before a charming sunset at the terrace of the Abadesa Bar.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Capellán de Getsemaní
8. Ananda Hotel Boutique – Hoteles Cosmos – an upscale quirky-chic hotel that is within walking distance from the amazing Colombian beaches
Ananda Hotel is a dreamy place where time stops still and happiness resides. This colonial boutique hotel sits elegantly in the heart of the historic centre, and its exclusive décor merges the traditional with the modern.
Opulent wooden elements pair beautifully with contemporary pieces in the guestrooms, which come in all shapes and sizes. A replenishing experience awaits in the on-site spa, which invites you to strike that blissful harmony between body and mind.
I thought the Vedana restaurant, surrounded by ancient arches, was the perfect spot for a romantic night of fine dining, and all the flavours of typical Colombian gastronomy were served with a sprinkle of international artistry.
- To book, check prices or availability for Ananda Hotel Boutique – Hoteles Cosmos
9. Hotel Aguamarina Boutique – a romantic petite boutique hotel that blends modern and exotic décor based at Cartagena de Indias
Preserving the memories of the past while stimulating a deep connection with the present, this majestic mansion invites you to a bohemian experience in the heart of Cartagena.
I will never forget the warm welcome I received when entering Hotel Aguamarina, and I was immediately made to feel at home. The designers have packed a lot of hip décor into the property, and each piece tells a unique story. From the peaceful Buddha statue to the flamboyant blue chandeliers to the stone-walled bathrooms, an atmosphere of bygone-era opulence permeates the interiors.
When not relishing the hotel’s unique charm from the rooftop pool, you can tuck into romantic candle-lit dinners, soothe the senses in the spa, or simply take a step outside and be immersed in the city’s illustrious history.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Aguamarina Boutique
10. Movich Hotel Cartagena de Indias – an unpretentious and prime colonial-style hotel based on a charming quaint cobblestone street
Radiating the romantic spirit of the historic centre of Cartagena, Movich is a design-led boutique hotel with colonial airs, and is the only one in the city that belongs to the exclusive Small Luxury Hotels of the World network.
I thought the hallmarks of this modern masterpiece were its first-rate service, its mouth-watering gastronomy, and its jaw-dropping panoramas.
The Alyzia restaurant is accompanied by a spectacular pool terrace with 360º views of the entire cityscape, and there are many floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the property that also allow epic vistas to gleam. Further on-site offerings include a spa, a gym, a meeting room, and the opportunity to book once-in-a-lifetime Caribbean excursions.
- To book, check prices or availability for Movich Hotel Cartagena de Indias
11. Hotel InterContinental Cartagena, an IHG Hotel – a cool, modern and upscale beachfront hotel that boasts a spacious roof-top terrace and a bar
A privileged waterfront location sets the scene for a mesmerising stay in this gorgeous hotel, where an ultra-modern design meets a warm-hearted welcome from the locals.
Set in one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in the city, a short stroll will land you at the beautiful bay of Castillogrande. The on-site restaurant pairs exquisite cocktails with live music and everything from tapas to gourmet sandwiches, resulting in an unparalleled culinary experience.
My room came with beautiful sea views, and was dressed in smooth wooden hues which oozed comfort and elegance. I spent a lot of my time hanging out by the majestic outdoor pool, and sitting on a cosy sun lounger while sipping a crafted beverage.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel InterContinental Cartagena, an IHG Hotel
12. Hotel Casa Don Luis by Faranda Boutique, a member of Radisson Individuals – a charming and gorgeous place to stay in Cartagena that is near amazing white-sand beaches
Centred around a graceful internal courtyard, this hotel is one of my personal favourites in Cartagena. Nestled within the city’s fortified centre, this boutique gem pairs contemporary comforts with a colonial design.
The historic style is reflected by the magnificent staircase, high ceilings, and traditional terrace, while a whole host of modern amenities offer a sense of modern luxury.
After an action-packed day out exploring the city, you are invited to recharge in the hotel’s spa, or overlook the city’s gleaming rooftops from the outdoor pool. The restaurant serves some of the best Italian cuisine in the city, in a warm and inviting environment.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Casa Don Luis by Faranda Boutique, a member of Radisson Individuals
13. Hotel Boutique Casa Del Arzobispado – an oasis of intimacy boutique hotel that blends both colonial and innovative architecture
Colonial art, religious pieces, traditional fabrics, and unique objects mark the style of this lavish boutique hotel. A distinctive bohemian aesthetic is the result of the many artists who have graced the property with their creative treasures over the centuries.
The living rooms, terrace, and dining rooms express an opulent character that paves the way for the artisan décor and bespoke furnishings to flourish.
Beautiful art-adorned corridors lead you to the interior patio, a place centred around a gorgeous sun-drenched swimming pool. Furnished with wood and coral, each room has been designed with relaxation in mind, and is topped with crisp Egyptian cottons, a HD Television, a sofa, and a minibar.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Boutique Casa Del Arzobispado
14. GHL Arsenal Hotel – a cool, trendy and chic hotel set opposite the convention centre, ideal for Millennials and Gen Zs
Arsenal Hotel is ready to take guests on a journey of discovery, where they will become familiar with Cartagena’s mouth-watering cuisine, epic landmarks, and beautiful traditions.
The property offers an outdoor pool with a privileged view of the city, which was the source of countless moments of bliss during our vacation. The rooms are decorated in a modern style with plenty of natural light, plush linens, and hand-crafted décor, paying homage to the artistic flair of the locals.
On the first floor, the rustic and cosy atmosphere of the Arsenal Restaurant provides the perfect setting to savour a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- To book, check prices or availability for GHL Arsenal Hotel
15. Casa La Cartujita – a cool and down-to-earth hotel that mixes mid-century modernism decor with antique 16th-century colonial architecture
Here we have a one-of-a-kind luxury boutique hotel, featuring seven beautifully crafted accommodations. The majestic moulded wooden doors of the hotel’s elegant façade invite you into an old-world oasis.
Inside, this historic home expresses a visual juxtaposition of modern splendour and colonial allure and is brimming with unparalleled charm and glamour.
The hotel used to serve as a monastery for Carthusian monks during the Spanish Colonial era, and it has certainly maintained its tranquil atmosphere. My room was decked out with colourful artwork, intimate boutique-style décor, and patterned tapestries. It also had a quaint balcony spot which was perfect for people-watching!
- To book, check prices or availability for Casa La Cartujita
16. Nacar Hotel Cartagena, Curio Collection by Hilton – a contemporary, bright and historical colonial mansion where guests can benefit from a spa and a wellness center
Housed in a restored historic landmark, Nacar offers an authentic, colonial ambiance steeped in modern refinement. Less than one kilometre away you will reach the Walled City, Torre del Reloj, and Plana Santo Domingo.
A graceful touch here was the copious amount of snacks and beverages on offer which I could enjoy by the pool, and I thought the terrace bar offered some of the most majestic views in the whole city.
The rooms are bright and spacious, and are furnished with a whole host of luxury décor which made me feel pampered in elegance throughout my entire stay.
- To book, check prices or availability for Nacar Hotel Cartagena, Curio Collection by Hilton
17. Ermita Cartagena, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel – a polished and lavish hotel that features beautifully designed rooms that overlook the Caribbean Sea
Here we have the first Marriott property in Cartagena, steeped in a charismatic design unbound by the rules of a typical urban hotel.
This charming boutique occupies a lovely heritage building, and inside you will find richly designed rooms & suites, a 24-hour fitness centre, and an award-winning restaurant. Something I loved about Ermita was that one step out the property lands you within a maze of eclectic streets lined with bars, eateries, and nightlife options.
This is certainly one of the best places to stay if you’re wanting to immerse yourself into Colombia’s coastal panache and vibrant way of life.
- To book, check prices or availability for Ermita Cartagena, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
18. Casa de Alba Hotel Boutique – an exceptional unassuming hotel that is the perfect gateway for a romantic break
A magical haven nestled in the jewel of the Caribbean, Casa de Alba bridges the gap between history and elegance, and is set in a 16th-century colonial mansion.
It invites you to step into a tailor-made hospitality experience in the heart of Cartagena, where the charm of traditional Spanish architecture and the vibrant dynamism of the city fuel together.
The property is equipped with stunning marble floors and furnished with French décor, and the central courtyard pool is surrounded by palm trees. I really enjoyed ordering sumptuous meals from the two restaurants, and having them delivered to the beautiful central balcony area where a communal dining experience is promoted.
- To book, check prices or availability for Casa de Alba Hotel Boutique
19. Casa Logos Hotel Boutique – a casual adult-only hotel set in Cartagena’s old town that provides a peaceful and cozy stay
With two hundred years of history, Casa Logos beckons guests to live and breathe Cartagena’s storied past in a pleasant, comfortable, and charismatic sanctuary.
A colonial flair merges with modern touches and a Mediterranean feel here, with a prevailing family atmosphere setting a graceful tone. A colourful rooftop terrace invites you to surrender to the Caribbean way of life, with cosy loungers and shaded cabanas enhancing the sense of luxury.
The colourful splashes of quirky art shine elegantly against the smooth interior canvas, while patterned tapestries, potted plants and traditional wooden décor bring an air of chic glamour.
- To book, check prices or availability for Casa Logos Hotel Boutique
20. Casa Bustamante Hotel Boutique – a traditional Colombian guesthouse that is embraced by gorgeous palm trees set in a restored colonial residence
Casa Bustamante was everything I ever wished for from a hospitality experience in Cartagena, and at an extremely affordable price point!
The colonial architecture has been not just exquisitely preserved, but brought to life by artsy touches that emanate glamour, sophistication, and elegance. My room was a peaceful cocoon equipped with a cable TV and a minibar, and brought an air of functionality to my stay.
The homemade breakfast is exemplary, and provided me with the perfect fuel for an action-packed day of urban exploring. On-site you will also find a wooden terrace, where comfy chairs and soaring trees surround a shimmering turquoise pool.
- To book, check prices or availability for Casa Bustamante Hotel Boutique
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Born and raised in Brazil, Gaby has always had a taste for the intriguing, the off-beat and the far flung. After travelling around most of South America, living in Spain and Italy and then moving to England, her feet have stayed continually twitchy. Studying for a degree in Spanish translation and then learning five more languages only poured more fuel onto her travelling ardor.
Gaby likes nothing better than discovering new destinations and meeting the locals, tasting the cuisine and hearing about the local stories. Her other indulgences include French cinema, boxing, photography, colourful manicures and soaking up the rays on a sun-infused beach. She counts Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Barcelona, Lisbon and Cornwall as her most favourite places in the world.