La Passion Cartagena is Classic Cartagena with the Warmth of Home
Girl Roamer Liyana found that the La Passion Cartagena offers luxury with all of the warmth and comfort of home
My motto is, while in a country take advantage of side trips to other destinations to see the country or the region. This time I was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and set my sights on a luxury getaway to Cartagena, Colombia.
I soon realized that my concept of a side trip was skewed by a lack of little research. Whoops! The plane ride from Rio to Cartagena is usually seven hours. However, our flight got extended to 10 hours hopping from airport to airport actually flying from Salvador da Bahia to Sao Paolo to Panama City to Cartagena. Not a quick plane ride over to Cartagena as I originally thought. Little did I know that Cartagena is pretty much on the exact opposite side of Brazil from Rio. I guess something about knowing you’re flying over land gives you this fake illusion that the trip is supposed to be short.
Looking for luxury in Cartagena, I tapped two friends on Instagram: Hajar @HajarAli, who specializes in luxury travel, and her friend @Ocohane, who writes for Conde Nast Traveler. I found La Passion Hotel (Carrera 5 # 5-81; 011-57-5-664-8605; ; LaPassionHotel.com) with their help via social media (gotta love it!).
I knew nothing about Cartagena or Colombia for that matter before arriving at La Passion Hotel, a nondescript building with a small sign designating the hotel and with two gates with a small doorway in between, located in the heart of the old town Cartagena.
I was a bit confused at first, but behind the second gate was the reception area of La Passion, flanked by a beautiful old staircase and a gorgeous inner courtyard. There was an old world charm to the hotel; even though it was restored, the architect still honored the bones of the building that was built in 1820, originally in the Spanish colonia style, but it later took on an early Republican construction and is now a balanced hybrid of the two architectural styles, according to Colombia.Travel. This is why I love, love, love! staying at boutique hotels or bed and breakfasts … for that unique experience.
The 10-room hotel is run by the owner and his three staff members that included the receptionist, the chef upstairs and the chambermaid.
As the morning waned on and we were refreshed by the pool and a shower in the small room that we were allowed to freshen up in, we were finally given the keys to our suite, No. 4, a standard room, which is the hotel’s classic level accommodation.
My eyes seriously bulged when I walked in. It was incredibly long, lots of space, with very tasteful decorations that also really felt cozy and homey, yet reflected the soul of the building and Cartagena. It’s hard to describe what it was exactly that transported me back to days that have long gone by. Perhaps it was the distressed travel trunks that served as a TV console or the presence of an old dressing table. Maybe it was the wooden headboard or the recessed open closest space or the open wooden beams in the ceiling. Whatever it was, it was cool (I almost had a feeling of being in a wine cellar) which was perfect for Cartagena heat. It was also a place that I found myself longing to go back to after walking around the city for a bit.
The room also featured a king size bed, air conditioning and a fan, an open air bathtub and shower, and free Wi-Fi. The only concern I had with my stay there was the shower. The shower and bathtub are open air meaning you won’t necessarily stay warm even if you took a warm shower.
Once you’re in the walled city of Cartagena, most everything is within easy walking distance. That being said though, it’s always beneficial to be in the middle of a city itself in general.
La Passion is about four or five blocks from any one of the main square areas and about two blocks from Plaza Santo Domingo, where you can find one of sculptures by Botero and a few terrace restaurants to park yourself at and people watch.
It was already hot when we arrived at 6 a.m. OK. Not really. It was 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) and sunny. After freshening up and changing in a small room that the staff allowed us to use, we decided to head straight up to the roof to check out its pool.
The open air pool is very cozy with wonderful lounging chairs. You can select lying out in the direct sun or being partially shaded lying under the trees, if you choose the right lounge chair. The water was crisp, and clear, and you can swim with the view of church steeples and the bustle of old town Cartagena with its bars, restaurants and shops below.
The hotel also features a small breakfast terrace area next to the pool for you to have your complimentary daily breakfast. You can also opt to have breakfast in your room, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Don’t be lazy, go outside and upstairs and enjoy!
The owner and his three staff members, that included the receptionist, the chef upstairs and the chambermaid, immediately made us feel welcome. During the rest of our stay in the 10-room hotel they were always seen at any one time.
Due to our early arrival, they weren’t ready to check us in, so as I mentioned before, they allowed us to freshen up in a smaller room, something that we much, much appreciated. It’s these small things that make you feel so much more than just a paying guest.
The staff was also attentive to detail without us knowing it. I never complained about my water pressure and temperature issues with the shower, which was far too low and the water was never actually hot for the first couple of days. But miraculously, after the second day, it must have been fixed as the water pressure became good allowing us to enjoy a very nice hot shower during the rest of our stay.
The marker of a good hotel is the fact that I found myself wanting to just go back and spend time in my room most of the time, which means all in all I really did enjoy my stay at La Passion.
It felt, cozy, like home, but also wonderfully decadent. I loved walking out of the room and feeling like I had stepped back in time and walking up to the roof to enjoy the city skyline. I loved that it was a boutique hotel, with so few rooms and so few people.
If you are planning a trip to Cartagena, Colombia, I definitely recommend staying at the La Passion.
La Passion Hotel, Carrera 5 # 5-81, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia. 011-57-5-664-8605. . LaPassionHotel.com
RATING: 4 = black
(5 best – 0 worst: color code: 5 = midnight blue; 4 = black; 3 = Aqua; 2 = orange; 1 = gold; and 0 = green)
TYPE OF LODGING: Boutique hotel
CHECK OUT: $$ = $100 – $175
(Lowest price for a single night in a standard room during high-season)
SWEET DREAMS: The authentic historic interior design of Cartagena, Colombia with its cozy and warm feeling of home that made me want to actually spend most of my time at the hotel rather than exploring the city.
WORTH THE SLEEP?: zzz = Like being at home
VIBE: Warm welcoming and tasteful from the decor to the owner and the staff. It is home away from home.
SCENE: No one blinked an eye when we came wandering in after a 10 hour flight and slipped into our swim suits to hang out by the pool. I’m sure we looked travel worn until we spruced up into our fashionable selves. The people of Cartagena are conservatively, yet well dressed. Most of the local women were in long jeans balanced by a lower cut top, and you would never find any of the local men in a pair of shorts. Regardless of the heat, or time of day, both genders are usually found in something that covers them from the waist to the ankles, though with varying sleeve and neckline for the ladies, and a t-shirt or shirt for the men.
LOCATION: In the heart of old town Cartagena, most everything is within easy walking distance. The squares are about four or five blocks from the hotel and the Plaza Santo Domingo, where you can find one of sculptures by Botero and a few terrace restaurants to park yourself at and people watch, is about two blocks.
ROOM: It was incredibly long, lots of space, with very tasteful decorations that also really felt cozy and homey, yet reflected the soul of the building and Cartagena.
BATHROOM: The shower and bathtub are open air meaning you won’t necessarily stay warm even if you took a warm shower. There is a separate toilet cubicle which is private (with a door to close) but the industrial looking tub itself is located in the open space at the end of the room. If you only wanted a shower though, you would still find yourself standing in the middle of the tub hoping the water doesn’t turn cold the minute it comes out.
AMENITIES: The room also featured a king size bed, air conditioning and a fan, an open air bathtub and shower, and free Wi-Fi.
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