Click here for the best places to stay in Cartagena

If Cartagena is on your bucket list and you've been planning your trip for a while go straight to our guru's list of hotel recommendations. If not here are some of her charms, and some of the best places to stay in Cartagena to enjoy them!

Cartagena de Indias feels like it belongs to a different era. Once an important (read rich) port on the silver and gold trade route, this city was wealthy and fortified, the impressive remnants of which are why it's:

  • UNESCO world heritage listed,
  • why it has so many visitors,
  • and why it's beauty is so 'fairytale'.

This is not the Columbia where danger is easily encountered, in Cartagena the most dangerous things are probably the horse drawn carriages which carry tourists around the narrow streets of the pristine Old Town. In fact while it feels like an exotic destination, Cartagena is also a good place to go if you want to relax - one of the best things to do here is stroll the sea wall of an evening, followed by some mojitos in a cafe/ bar and some people watching.

This may make it sound small though - it's not, it's the fifth largest city in Colombia.

The Fortifications

Because of the rich trading, Cartagena is also the Caribbean port most associated with pirates. So it makes sense that Cartagena's famous fortifications are slightly set off from today's city - focussed around the bay. The best of the forts are the Castillo de San Felipe of Barajas, the Battery of San Ángel in Tierrabomba, the Castillo Fuerte of San Fernando and the Battery of San José in Bocachica. These were all major artillery sites as well, set up to return fire - against Sir Francis Drake at one point

The Old Town

The other highlight of Cartagena is the walled Old Town - everything you'd expect a Spanish Colonial settlement to look like. This is one of the best places to stay in Cartagena if you're 'hanging the expense' and want to really be in the beautiful heart of things. Despite being ravaged numerous times (Drake destroyed about a quarter of it before ransoming it back to the Spanish for about $200million), this area is full of beautiful buildings. Some of the places worth visiting are the cathedral and the Palace of the Inquisition.

San Diego

Built for the middle classes, San Diego is where you'll find many of Cartagena's most beautiful old colonial homes. Some of which have been converted into boutique hotels, which makes it one of the best places to stay in Cartagena. These hotels don't always have a lot of rooms but the charm of staying in this area is worth the effort.

Best places to stay in Cartagena

For central location

  • If you want to stay in the heart of town, a good option is Casa Pestagua. Right by Santo Domingo Square, this palace of a hotel was built for an 18th Century Count, and it's often referred to as 'the most beautiful house in Cartagena'. It also has gorgeous views over the walled city. And a luxurious spa, with hot-tubs-with-a-view.
  • La Passion is also in a great central location. This beautiful 18th century palace has been converted into an eight bedroomed hotel with stylish rooms and fabulous roof top swimming pool and cocktail bar.
  • Quadrifolio offers sophisticated accommodation bang in the centre of the Old Town. The byword here is understated elegance, plus there's a lovely pool, spa and restaurant.
  • The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara is one of the best places to stay in Cartagena to experience San Diego. It's got a grandiose beauty that fits in with the carefully restored houses the area is best known for. It used to be a convent, but with four bars and the largest pool in the walled city it's anything but staid now.

For luxury

  • Tcherassi Hotel and Spa is one of the trendiest addresses in town. Come here for sleek interiors, contemporary art and an award winning restaurant.
  • Casa San Agustin is easliy one of the best places to stay in Cartagena if luxury is your thing. The large rooms and suites feature four poster beds and marble bathrooms as standard. Plus there's a coutyard pool and much, much more.

Still not sure which to book? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Cartagena, or feel free to call or email one of our gurus for advice

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The best hotels in Cartagena

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  • Bantu Boutique Hotel


    Elegant 5* hotel in 18th century building. Characterful rooms have exposed bricks, traditional mosaic tiles and light marble bathrooms. Outdoor pool on roof terrace, inner plant-filled courtyard, solarium, hot tub and massages. Caribbean and Colombian fare in romantic restaurant. An authentic stay.

    26 rooms from $146
    Writing a novel  -  Take inspiration from this 18th century building and old city, read upon the roof terrace lounge or the bricked courtyard
    Great walks  -  Through the cobbled Old Town
    Sights nearby  -  Santo Toribio Church
    Barefoot Luxury  -  For total relaxation.
  • La Passion

    Cartagena (Bolivar)

    A beautiful 18th century palace with traditional facades and classical suites to match. Chequered stone floors, romantic balconies, four poster beds, pastel walls, gilt mirrors and winding staircases. Stunning roof top swimming pool and cocktail bar. Very ethereal.

    8 rooms from $167
    Romantic Break
    Sights nearby  -  Situated in the heart of the historical centre of Cartagena
    Restrictions on children  -  Over 14s welcome.
    Swimming Pool  -  Rooftop Pool
    Recommended by  -  Tablet, CN Traveller
  • Sofitel Legend Santa Clara

    Cartagena (Barrio San Diego)

    A Former convent in the heart of Cartagena with four bars and the biggest swimming pool in the city. Fun, fun, fun - the original occupants would not approve...

    122 rooms from $283
    Sights nearby  -  lots or just walk around the walled city
    Diving  -  Snorkelling and Scuba diving centre
    Swimming Pool  -  Large Outdoor Pool
    Spa  -  Hammam
    Recommended by  -  Tablet, Fodors, Kiwi Collection
  • Casablanca B&B


    Contemporary B&B in colonial house. Elegant rooms are awash with white furnishings, antique furniture and granite bathrooms; some with open air showers. Two outdoor pool, rooftop bar with superb views and shady courtyard. Spa treatments available. Chic and romantic with lots of personable touches.

    11 rooms from $260
    Romantic Break  -  Rooftop pool with chic white loungers, palm tree shaded courtyard, enormous white beds and cobbled city outside to explore
    Great walks  -  Walk the narrow streets and discover the corners and squares of the old quarter
    Sights nearby  -  The palace of the Inquisition
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
  • Quadrifolio


    A romantic manor house in the old town of Cartagena. Traditional understated elegance throughout suites. Stone floors, wooden furnishings, all the mod cons. Lovely pool, spa and restaurant. Calm, simple, sophisticated.

    8 rooms from $267
    Romantic Break
    Sights nearby  -  Located in the historical centre of Cartagena
    Swimming Pool  -  Indoor/outdoor
    Recommended by  -  Tablet
  • Casa San Agustin

    Cartagena (Bolivar)

    Romantic and grand traditional Cartagenese house in the old town. White washed colonial buildings have frescoed ceilings, hand painted tiles, and coral stone walls. Enormous rooms and suites have high ceilings, four poster beds, and marble bathrooms. Lovely courtyard pool, restaurant and terraces.

    30 rooms from $414
    Romantic Break
    Private Hot Tub  -  If you book the Del Virrey Suite
  • Casa Pestagua


    An absolute gem of laid-back style in a historic location with enormous bedrooms and bathrooms and a fabulous spa offering exotic luxurious treatments.

    11 rooms from $395
    Hot Tub  -  On the rooftop with amazing views over the city
    Swimming Pool  -  Large Outdoor Pool
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Recommended by  -  Tablet
  • Tcherassi Hotel & Spa

    Cartagena (Calle 38)

    One of the trendiest hotels in Cartagena. Sleek interior design makes use of original elements in contemporary formats. White washed archways framed by modern art, contemporary furnishings against exposed stone work etc. Award-winning restaurant, pool, and fresh suites.

    7 rooms from $735
    City Style
    Sights nearby  -  Situated in the heart of the old Town
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor Pools
    Recommended by  -  Tablet, Kiwi Collection, CN Traveller
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