Cartagena as a travel destination has one note, and it plays it well — a historic walled city on the Caribbean coast, hot year-round. The city’s beaches aren’t worth noting, and unless you take a water-taxi to an island off the coast (Isla Rosario is recommended) or, better yet, book a yacht for a private experience on the water, don’t expect to waste away the day in the sun. Life’s better inside the walls.
Before nightfall, the best thing to do is lounge around, waiting out the wilting weather on a balcony or indoors. This can be done at a cafe, bar, or, best yet, from a proper hotel. Casa La Cartujita, located in the San Diego neighborhood of Cartagena, offers perfectly located balconies for observing, an inner courtyard for sun reprieve, and spacious rooms for a mid-day nap.
Casa La Cartujita is a family home converted into guest rooms, and the lodging experience lands between the quaintness of a B&B and the efficiency of a hotel, and while there are larger hotel options in Carta — the Sofitel is the main choice for affluent Americans — to stay in the bigger boxes tosses away the local charm. This is a small, old town. Its appointments should be as such.
Each guest room is unique (the back rooms are more private, while the front have balconies opening to the street) and feature marble bathrooms and L’Occitane soaps. The included breakfast comes with the traditional Colombian fare of arepas, sausages, fresh fruit and juices and it is served in the common area, indoors or in the courtyard. The front-desk operates as a personal concierge, coordinating restaurant or excursion reservations or ensuring you’re well-stocked in sunscreen. On the roof, there’s a grill and hot tub, and the Casa’s central location puts restaurants and bars in easy walking distance.
With stone floors, marble bathrooms and white plaster walls, the place has the feel of a spa, along with the requisite trickling water fountains and open shared areas. The tranquility found indoors contrasts with the bustling city outside, and that juxtaposition, for travelers looking for both action and respite, is delivered just right.