HOTEL BOUTIQUE CASA PESTAGUA – It’s the immense scale that hits you upon entering this high-ceilinged palacio, one of three originally owned by the 18th-century Count of Pestagua. With louvered window shutters, a muted palette, and heat-resistant corolina stone flooring, the 11 rooms are designed for Cartagena’s steamy climate. We love the generous breakfast of tropical fruit, stuffed yuca fritters, and arepas served in the palm-filled courtyard.
CHARLESTON SANTA TERESA CARTAGENA – While most hotels in the old town open onto narrow streets, the Charleston commands uninterrupted views over the 16th-century ramparts to the Caribbean Sea, with an open-air bar that spills out onto a large plaza. A new restaurant run by chef Harry Sasson, owner of Bogota’s Club Colombia and Harry’s Bar, opened in November and has already become a local hot spot.
SOFITEL LEGEND SANTA CLARA – The restored Santa Clara is carved from the shell of a 17th-century convent in the quiet neighborhood of San Diego. You’ll still find a chapel nave and confessional windows, along with an elaborate wrought-iron entrance gate and a crypt inside the perennially packed bar. Upstairs, there’s an easy tropical feel in both the suites of the Colonial wing and the 106 minimalist rooms in the contemporary wing.
CASA SAN AGUSTIN – Hidden among the houses of the old town, the 30-room Casa San Agustin was created by merging three smaller properties. An L-shaped pool passes pleasingly through the cutout wall of a former aqueduct, and rooms are tucked into a maze of alcoves, turrets, and mezzanines. Each is furnished with tables made of Congolese wenge wood and has a bathroom with intricate Mexican tiling. Room to book: 102, with a private plunge pool.