A colonial masterpiece steeped in history
123 Rooms / 20 Suites
Not many hotels in the world can claim to be literary muse to one of the world’s most celebrated writers, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, but then again, Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena isn’t just any hotel.
As the only Sofitel in Latin America knighted with the prestigious “Legend” status by the company, the property has been applauded for connecting wholeheartedly with local history and customs, while also setting the benchmark for an unrivaled approach to high-end hospitality.
You only have to walk into the sweeping entrance, with its original 16th-century beams, museum-worthy art pieces and jaw-dropping courtyard, to know you’re in the presence of greatness. This rings particularly true if you’re fortunate enough to reserve one of the suites that pays homage to Colombia’s internationally renowned artists Fernando Botero and Olga de Amaral.
Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, which once served as a convent, occupies an illustrious spot on Plaza San Diego, Cartagena’s picture-perfect square that’s packed with entertainment options. But it’s not that you will ever need to leave Sofitel’s sumptuous confines to have a good time, seeing as how the hotel’s central eatery, Restaurante 1621, and the lounge bar, El Coro, are some of the hottest hangouts in the city.
Our Inspector’s Highlights
• Marvel at the religious relics echoing in the hotel’s sidelines. The original confession pews in the ground-floor patio and authentic crypts in the chapel (now used for private events) are aesthetic heirlooms of another era.
• Enjoy live music and fabulous cocktails in Sofitel’s bar, El Coro, a space frequented by both well-heeled locals as well as out-of-towners.
• The Cartagena hotel provides impeccable customer service you simply won’t find many other places. Sofitel Santa Clara is the only luxury hotel in the city with butler service as well as reputable concierge assistance.
• Love Gabriel Garcia Márquez? Then you must visit the onsite crypt, which served as a muse for his masterpiece, Of Love and Other Demons.
What to Know
• If you’re planning a trip to Cartagena during high season (December to March), make sure you book in advance. Sofitel Santa Clara is annually one of the first hotels to run out of availability.
• The luxury hotel is the main hub for Cartagena’s cultural events such as the Hay Festival (January) and International Film Festival of Cartagena (March). You’ll be shoulder-to-shoulder with celebrities, but it can get quite noisy and chaotic.
• Sofitel Santa Clara Cartagena boasts the largest swimming pool in the historical center. Just make sure you check out the incredible uninterrupted sea views from the second floor terrace in between sunbathing sessions.
• The historical structure lends itself beautifully to the room’s design. High-ceilings, alcoves and Colombian artisanal furnishings interweave native colorful character with this traditionally classic French hotel brand.
• The Fernando Botero Presidential Suite is by far the most impressive room on the property. Decorated by the famed artist’s daughter, Lina Botero, it holds an original Botero painting, intimate photographs and a personal book collection.
• One thing to keep in mind when considering the other units: You get a little more space to kick up when you upgrade from the Classic (345 square feet) to Superior class (366 square feet) of room.
• The 17th-century wall encircling Cartagena’s historical center is within walking distance from the hotel.
• Las Bóvedas (meaning “the vaults” in English) is the place to go when you’re looking for souvenirs. It’s not your typical tourist shop setting, though. Tucked under 47 arches, the place was used to hold prisoners during civil wars of the independence-era period in the 1700s.
• Sofitel Santa Clara is perched in the middle of Plaza San Diego, a culinary hub of the city. Hit La Tumbamuertos Burger Bar for a casual bite and to watch the world go by on the terrace. At night, Cuba 1940s has live salsa and potent mojitos to get you in the groove.
• The arts and science school across the street from the hotel used to be a male convent. It’s now a university and cultural center that often hosts concerts and fairs open to the public.