Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena
What We Love
- Fernando Botero’s giant bronze nude nestled in the lush vegetation of the colonial patio
- An expansive swimming pool that makes it difficult to leave the hotel
- Strawberries and champagne in the hot tub, with a view of the sun sinking into the Caribbean
What To Know
- Classic rooms are not very big, but connecting rooms can be arranged for families
- Cartagena’s beaches are disappointing. For the idyllic Caribbean beach experience you will need to rent a yacht and head to the Rosario Islands
- Bathrooms in the classic rooms are for pint-size guests; for a good soak you will need a suite
- Free WiFi
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Contemporary colonial chic. Saintly Spanish 17th-century architecture has been given a stylish refit, modern designer touches and a gilded flourish from Colombia’s greatest artists. From Olga de Amaral’s shimmering tapestry painted in gold leaf at the entrance, Fernando Botero’s flirtatious, chubby bronze on the patio, and elegant designer linen threads by Lina Cantillo for the attentive staff, this is a hotel that prides itself on attention to detail from top to toe.
Bed and Bath
Most of the hotel’s 139 guestrooms and suites flank the swimming pool, which dominates the 20th-century Republican wing of the property. Superior rooms on upper levels, nestled under the whitewashed eaves, offer extra headroom and views of the Caribbean. Suites embellished with art by Colombian artists Ana Mercedes Hoyos and Fernando Botero have helped this colonial gem become Sofitel’s fourth Legend property.
The modern-day call to prayer in this former convent means sundowners and Cuban Son in El Coro Lounge Bar, a faux library big on local art exhibitions and killer cocktails. The “librarians” shake a mean mojito into the mix before guests move on to the hotel’s maximalist fine dining restaurant, 1621, which borrows the nocturnal charm of the hotel’s spectacular colonial courtyard for romantic trysts. Reward yourself after a day exploring the city’s architectural charms, and evenings soaking up the nightlife, with a couple of hours of detox at the hotel’s Turkish hammam.
In the Area
To get the lowdown on Cartagena’s nocturnal attractions, there’s Kendrick’s Gin sundowners at the ultra-friendly upstairs bar, El Balcon. Eat sushi at Tabetai and the crayfish and king prawn risotto at Don Juan. If you’re looking to party with a beautiful crowd, the hip hangout La Movida works wonders on weekends. Loved ones left at home will love you even more if you bring home some green fire — Colombian emeralds — from Lucy Jewelry or the plundered treasure on display at Casa Chiqui. Pamper your cultural whims with a visit to NH Galeria.
How to Get There
We stayed at this beautiful historic property for three nights. My partner got very sick upon arrival (not their fault) and they were very helpful securing medical attention. A shout-out to Luis in the Concierge office who was very helpful to us.
The location is ideal, as you are within the walled city and can go anywhere on foot to dine, shop and site-see. The room was nicely appointed (#121) but housekeeping was lacking. There was a reluctance to keep the room supplied with ample bottled water for some reason. You do have street noise but it's right in the middle of the old town so we didn't mind.
We just spent a week at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara celebrating our anniversary. The hotel is AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL - a lovely oasis to return to following a morning out walking and touring. The main courtyard is like no other, and the ambiance throughout the entire hotel is one of refinement and grace. Prior to our arrival we corresponded with ease with Erick Carrillo who kindly answered many of our questions. Rudy Cuadro, head butler, made several restaurant reservations for us in advance of our stay, which was extremely helpful. His excellent staff, including Edson and Marco, were all attentive and accommodating. We were warmly welcomed upon arrival, and as Accor Club members, were provided with a priority check-in. We completely and thoroughly enjoyed our 7 night stay. Our beautiful room overlooked the pool, and we loved sitting out on our balcony in the morning and evening. The pool is large and there are plenty of chaises available. The pool staff is excellent, and drinks were delicious - the perfect place to relax after touring in the walled city. It was fun to watch the sunset from the hotel's rooftop on a couple of occasions. Be sure to check it out. Also, there's a nice hot tub on the upper level that is quite nice. Dinner in the courtyard was very memorable. Excellent service from the waitstaff and the atmosphere was one we'll always remember. Breakfast was also delicious, and again, so amazing to sit out in the courtyard. Our maid was very sweet and our room was serviced promptly each morning, and we also enjoyed turndown service each evening.
The hotel is in the perfect location for sightseeing. We walked all over the walled city many, many times, and enjoyed lots of fabulous restaurants, toured museums, visited the fort, etc. A fabulous vacation!
Thank you so very much to the staff at the Santa Clara for making our stay so wonderful. It was truly legendary. We hope to return again someday.
No matter how nice and all is perfect if you can’t sleep at night cause of the people talking in the street, the horns of cars , the beep beep beep of a truck backing up.....your no 5 stars no more and you can’t charge so much money for a room I’m never coming to sleep here again .....
This Sofitel is a hotel of two halves. It occupies a large site once devoted to devotion - ie, a monastery and convent, and also a hospital. When Sofitel bought the site they also bought a ruin. One half was so far gone it was demolished and a modern wing was built within the rebuilt outer wall and surrounding a large swimming pool. The other wing is the historic wing, built around a devastatingly beautiful, richly planted courtyard, though this building is more of a recreation than a restoration. Together, it’s quite an ensemble and lots of tourists flock in to gawp or to have lunch.
Our travel agent had booked us into one of the cheapest rooms, in the modern wing, in a dark corner overlooking the pool and without a balcony. The room was quite smart in its way but far too small for us. They showed us another room, on the ground floor with a terrace directly on to the pool. The room was again too small and we reckoned the location would be exposed and noisy. Then we checked out a junior suite on the fifth floor in the old wing - dark room, terrible view. After inspecting these three rooms and a after bit of hagglement we finally decided on duplex suite C-38. The main reason for doing this was to have a room which opened out onto the fabulous cloister and interior courtyard garden. Lazing around up there, on the third floor, reading a book or writing this review, was simply dreamy.
Our room was quite a piece of work, I can tell you. Great in parts, simply a nightmare in others. The good bits were the downstairs sitting area, which was extremely spacious, the downstairs loo which functioned properly, and the comfy bed upstairs. There was also an outdoor terrace with a deeply unpleasant metal grid for flooring. This was because part of the terrace was an enormous heating vent for something below, possibly a kitchen. We showed this to the duty manager who acknowledged a problem and gave us a further discount. Oh yes, you could see the Caribbean from this terrace.
Whoever designed the upstairs bathroom needs to be locked up. Surely no one from Sofitel has ever tried to use this bathroom because, if they had, they would have had it torn out. To begin with, hot water took 5 minutes to arrive. The taps in the basin produced a feeble spray which didn’t allow you to wash your face or shave or clean your teeth properly. To access the shower you had to squeeze past and through the lavatory. You couldn’t shut the door to the lavatory unless you were sitting on the loo or standing in the shower waiting for the hot water to arrive. It was a total disaster of a bathroom.
Don’t get me started on the power sockets or the lighting - 24 light switches, none of them talking to each other. There were aspects of this room that drove me nuts. And when you are paying these room rates - our room was officially about $800 a night - you want a room that’s easy to use. This one most definitely wasn’t.
The courtyard is the focal point of the hotel and we had three breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners there. Nothing in the town offered anything remotely comparable in terms of sheer beauty. And the food was always good, sometimes excellent. This being a French-owned hotel, they take their food seriously and give it a Colombian twist.
Our three-night stay was hugely enjoyable, not least because of the ongoing saga of our room. They are some pretty boutique places in Cartagena - notably Casa Pestagua - but nothing remotely rivals that courtyard at the Sofitel, the memory of which will stay with us forever.
By the way, the Sofitel’s wifi works a treat. They do, however, block all visits to the TripAdvisor website.
Beautiful historic property on the coast and right in the Old Town. The only real resort contained in the old town. Gorgeous pool with top notch pool service and a cool breeze off the coast.
Walk to all the best restaurants in town. Rooms on the upper floors are the best and better yet are the suites. Beautiful views of the pool and ocean from your terrace.