Cartagena –or Cartagena de Indias to give it its correct name– lies on Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast. Its attractiveness as a tourist destination is well established, with a thriving visitor industry that has been catering to primarily American and Latin American tourists since the 1950’s. However, it still remains mercifully less tacky and crowded than many other Latin American resort towns, perhaps reflecting the history of upmarket tourists dating back to American oil men of the 1950’s who fell in love with the place. With its long history, stunning examples of Spanish colonial-era architecture, the vibrant local culture and great beaches, a little escape to Cartagena will do you the world of good in so many ways.
In keeping with the historic feel of the port city, try the Hotel LM. With only seven rooms and suites, this hotel is also located in the historic centre on the Calle de la Mantilla. As with most streets in the Old City, it has a legend attached to it, in this case one of a heartless Don Juan and his suicidal lover. Rather than ruin the story, let the Hotel LM fill you in on the tragic romance as it seems to be a legend of which they are particularly fond.
Patricia Mejia’s design for the building has all of the romance of the famous tale without any of the bloodshed and tears. Keeping all the best features of this elegant historic building, she has introduced everything from Turkish carpets to Spanish pop art. The cohesive whole has a vibrant comfort to it that reanimates the best features of this beautiful old building with a new contemporary spirit. The stylish lounge, with its wooden shutters and elegant windows, for example, gives a wonderful feel for what Cartagena must have been like in the 18th century.
All the guest rooms and suites are equipped with mod cons such as satellite TV, air conditioning, iPod docking stations, ceiling fans and WiFi and open onto a traditional courtyard patio.
One of the most attractive features is a glamourous terrace with views of the domes of the Cathedral de Santa Catalina over the tiles of the noble Old City. There’s also a swimming pool set into the patio and the rooftop terrace features a Jacuzzi and canopied massage area where you can indulge in an unwinding treatment.
The outdoor theme continues to the onsite food options where barbecue is something of a specialty and even the kitchen opens to the sunny outdoors. Another nice personal touch about the way that the hotel is run is that Chef Javier Diaz and his sous chef don’t have any fixed menu. What you choose to eat is more through a process of conversation. Javier can make his suggestions or see if you’re in the mood for one of his specialties or, instead, guests are invited to ask him to put together something for which they have a particular craving.
Hotel LM also has options for guests to take to some sumptuously appointed yachts and pleasure boats, including those suited to overnight accommodation, ideal for cruising to one of the many small islands in the area.