Since visiting Cartagena a few weeks ago, the question that I get asked most often is where we stayed while we were there, and rightly so. If you’re just starting out your search, it can be pretty daunting – there are a slew of hotels and inns within the walled city and right outside of the city. Then on top of that, there are a number of islands that you can also conveniently visit and stay at while you’re there. The opportunities are endless, so I’m here to make things a little easier.
Below, I’ve rounded up my recommendations on where to stay in and around the walled city of Cartagena, Colombia.
Hotel Boutique Las Carretas – Centrally located within the walled city of Cartagena, the Hotel Boutique Las Carretas is where we started out our trip. For only around $100 per night ($50 per person), with breakfast included, it was the perfect mid-level option for two 20-something travelers. We really enjoyed sipping afternoon drinks on the rooftop and Zach especially enjoyed taking a frequent dip in their rooftop pool.
Our only complaint with this hotel was with the room itself. Unfortunately, we ended up in a room with no real windows so forcing ourselves to wake up each morning in the dark was a real struggle. We had contemplated switching rooms but had read reviews that another couple with the same room had been switched and ended up with a very loud street facing room. So, we decided to suck it up and in the end, it wasn’t as bad as we had thought.
Despite our room issues, the location was extremely convenient, the price was great and the breakfast served each morning was extremely filling. I recommend this spot if you’re looking for somewhere to stay within the walled city.
Hotel Playa Manglares Isla Baru – After spending a few days in the city, I knew that we would be ready for a complete change of pace. I came across the Hotel Playa Manglares Isla Baru on Pinterest and was intrigued by the concept.
An eco-friendly resort located on Isla Baru, Hotel Playa Manlgares is only about an hour ride from the walled city and offers guests a unique and rustic beach experience. At $174 per night, it’s on the pricier side, but we decided it was worth the splurge.
At the Hotel Playa Manglares you can expect one thing: relaxation. With limited electricity and no other hotels close by, you’re really one with nature here. We spent our days lounging on the private beach, taking naps in the hammocks and playing never-ending games of UNO.
After that, we’d enjoy an outdoor shower and head to the communal dinner. If you were eating at the resort (breakfast was included, while every other meal was available for an extra cost), everyone ate at one long table together. I experienced this concept for the first time when I stayed in Tuscany years ago, and was excited to see that they did the same thing here. It was so interesting to have so many people from all over the world, all ending up at the same place. Although it might seem like an awkward concept at first, it really allows you to get out of your comfort zone and interact with new people while on vacation.
One other thing to note about the Hotel Playa Manglares is that they don’t have a regular bar like most other resorts in the area. Instead, they have an “honesty bar” which is essentially a fridge that they keep beer in with the intention that everyone writes down what they took on a notepad. There were other drinks available for purchase, like wine and cocktails, but we rarely found anyone to take our order so most of the time we stuck with beer (not a problem for us). Had I had known about the bar situation earlier, we would have come prepared with alcohol so that’s one thing to keep in mind if you’re thinking about staying here!
Overall, despite the heat (the rooms are open air so there are no air conditioners), and constant worrying that bugs were going to sneak through the mosquito nets at night, this was a relaxing and much-needed break from reality. I’ll be doing a larger post on this resort later on so keep an eye out for that!
Casa Pizarro Hotel Boutique – Coming back to Cartagena after a night in Isla Baru, we knew that we wanted to try a new area given that we had stayed in the walled city the first time around. Based on recommendations that I had read on Pinterest, we went with Getsemani, which is deemed Cartagena’s “coolest new neighborhood.”
Located just outside of the walled city, Getsemani is home to the infamous Cafe Havana, and definitely offers a very different vibe than the walled city. From what we experienced, it’s much more of a travelers area; with rows and rows of hostels, restaurants and bars offering cheaper prices than those that we had experienced around our first hotel. The whole area was very lively no matter what the day.
The Casa Pizarro Hotel Boutique was around $85 per night and was conveniently located within walking distance of everything – restaurants, bars and the walled city. On top of that, the breakfast included in the price was the best that we had while on our trip. We also really enjoyed the traditional Colombian pool located right off of the lobby.
Our only complaint here was the noise. Given that Getsemani is a more lively area, with a younger crowd, there were people going in and out of the lobby all night so it could get a bit loud.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay here and would highly recommend this spot if you’re looking for a cheaper option that allows you to avoid the craziness of the walled city.
Other Hotels I’d Recommend:
Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena – If you’re looking to splurge on your stay, I highly recommend the Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena. We stopped in their bar for drinks quite a few times and were so impressed by both the service and the grandness of the space. Housed in a former convent, the hotel perfectly blends colonial architecture and French luxury, aka it’s absolutely beautiful. So, if you’re looking to bring a little luxury into your stay in Cartagena, this is the spot to do it.
Townhouse Boutique Hotel & Rooftop – We got a peek inside this hotel when we headed to their rooftop for afternoon drinks. For around $165, Townhouse Boutique Hotel was on the higher end of our budget but luckily, the rooftop bar was well within our means. By far one of the more trendier hotels in Cartagena, this place reminds me of something that you’d find in Brooklyn, NY.14